School of Music


Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)


James Siddons


Onondaga Nation, Iroquois Nation, Native American Music, Haudenosaunee people




The main topic of focus is the resistance by indigenous people to communicate their cultural practices to researchers and those who are not part of their immediate community, especially in a post-COVID-19 world. The topic will be explored through the music and ceremonies of the Haudenosaunee people, also known as the Iroquois, consisting of members of Native American heritage that are still in existence today and recognized by the United States federal government as an official tribe. Onondaga Nation is one of the few remaining self-governing sovereign Native American nations in the United States. The music of the Onondaga people operates in both public and private functions, with the latter being hidden from those who do not identify as Haudenosaunee. Although researchers in the early twentieth century studied these private ceremonies, this information is no longer available for consumption in person. Initially, it was believed that research would rely heavily on interviews and first-hand accounts collected in the field as well as participation in musical experiences if possible. However, investigation proved that the majority of this work would be discovered through written volumes on the subject, as the Onondaga people have shown they do not regularly speak about or allow interaction with their musical experiences. Additional exploration on the subject is focused on the aversion of participation and partnership with a researcher. Interactions with the Haudenosaunee people would eventually lead to a deeper understanding by other Americans, reducing or eliminating centuries old beliefs of Native American inferiority. However, it is clear that their traditions and practices are kept private despite being disclosed in the past.

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