Music Maker

5 Students Who are Music Makers

5 Students Who
Michael King

Michael King

  • Michael King
  • Amy Lohrman
  • Kenneth Tan
  • Cherrie Lemon
  • Danielle Yu

Name: Michael King
Major: Earth and atmospheric sciences
Year: Master’s student, scheduled to graduate in 2012
Hometown: Shiprock, New Mexico

Michael King is a full-blooded American Indian whose upbringing has been rich in the traditional songs and dances of his Navajo tribe. Michael is grounded in the teachings and culture of his Navajo heritage and serves as drum keeper for the Native American Educational and Cultural Center.

Keep the beat

“The drum represents a lot of things for different American Indian tribes. When you beat on the drum, it’s the heartbeat of American Indians. It’s actually its own being, so we respect it as another person. The drum connects us to our cultural traditions, ancestors and history.”

Musical influences

“For American Indian people, we are very much a drum culture. A lot of our stories, teachings and language are passed on from one generation to the next through our traditional songs. Traditional singing is very essential to our cultural preservation. Throughout Indian country, each tribe has their own unique traditional songs, which connect them to their homeland and defines them as first people of North America.”

Valuable lessons

“A lot of what I learned about traditional songs came from the male sweat house ceremonies on our reservation. The many aspects of the male sweat house teach us how to be young adults, respect Mother Earth responsibly, learn our language and carry on our traditional songs and ultimately our culture.”

Generation to generation

“My dad is a traditional singer. What I’ve learned as far as how to sing came from him, as well as my uncles and elders. It’s just part of how we are as American Indian people. We have to carry on our culture and a big part of that is our traditional singing.”

Continuing the tradition

“Language and cultural preservation is important. One of the things I want to do when I finish at Purdue is to go back home and continue the male sweat house ceremonies and teach the younger generation these traditional songs and life lessons that are taught during these ceremonies.”

By Kelly Rogers
Published December 1, 2011