The Bands

SOUSA ON THE REZ: Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum profiles two contemporary Indian community bands: the Iroquois Indian Band from upstate New York and the Fort Mojave Tribal Band based in Needles, California. In addition to these two tribal bands, the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo also host vibrant bands.

In the 1800's and 1900's, dozens of Indian bands existed in the United States. Most Indian boarding schools had their own bands, including the band at the Carlisle Industrial School in Pennsylvania.

School bands were not the only Native groups performing marches and parade music; many tribal communities organized their own community bands that performed for both Native and non-Native audiences.

Professional ensembles toured both the US and abroad – providing employment opportunities for musicians in a time when opportunities for Native people were limited.

As march music became less popular, many of these groups disbanded. Today, four multi-generational community-based tribal bands remain, carrying on the rich tradition of Sousa on the Rez.

iroquois indian bandThe Iroquois Indian Band is a multigenerational community band comprised of musicians of Haudenosaunee descent including those of Tuscarora, Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk and Oneida heritage. The band performs at a host of Iroquois community events including the Tuscarora Picnic which is held annually in July. They also play every year at the New York State Fair in Syracuse. (Photo credit: Indian Country Today Media Network/David Melmer.)




fort mojave bandThe Fort Mojave Tribal Band was founded in 1906 by graduates of an Indian boarding school who took the musical training they received at the school and used it to celebrate their Indian identity and blaze new paths for themselves in a changing world. In 2012, the Fort Mojave Tribal Band continues this tradition and is an integral part of the cultural scene in Southern California.

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zuni pueblo bandThe Zuni Pueblo Band originated on the Zuni Indian Reservation in northwestern New Mexico and consists mostly of members from the Zuni Indian Tribe. They proudly wear the traditional Pueblo style of dress and exquisite Zuni jewelry, most of which is made by Zuni tribal members. In recent years, the Band has had members ranging in age from 8 years old to 80 years old. They perform throughout the Southwest and in 2005, marched at the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C..

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navajo nation bandAs ambassadors to the Navajo Nation, the Navajo Nation Band is an organization that provides quality and family musical entertainment to the general public. The Band has marched in three United States Presidential Inaugural Parades, the Arizona and New Mexico State Fairs Parades and the Fiesta Bowl Parade. An audition is required for membership.

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