Where and when did your interest in Native Americans originate?

September 1st, 2008 FAQs

This is discussed more fully in the interview with Joe Horowitz in the site’s media section, but to give a brief response here, as a youngster in Ohio there were many markers and allusions to the original inhabitants of the area.  The name of the state itself, and the river, the name of the town I grew up in – Cuyahoga Falls – and the Cuyahoga River and Valley, the meaning of the word “portage” – Portage County, Portage Path, Portage Lakes, all of which referred to the portage that the Indians made on foot overland, carrying their canoes over their heads, to cut the distance from one point in the crooked river to another – and a monument depicting the portage, an image that I drew over and over again as a school boy.  That’s where it began, as early as these motifs registered in my mind.  The history of Goose Egg Island, in the stretch of the Cuyahoga River that ran past our house, and the band of Seneca that had camped there during the days of Tecumseh, fascinated me.  I used to stay up all night to watch the sunrise over that little island…  Fast forward to the present, and I’m a veteran professor of a social justice course called Native American Music and Belief.  I helped endow a Native American Fund at the Quaker college where it is taught (Haverford), which some of my CD proceeds go to.  It has helped to promote Native American awareness by hosting visitors such as Mary Youngblood, and has contributed to projects such as the preservation of music from one of the Navajo chantway ceremonies.  To find out how to donate to the Native American Fund directly, please feel free to contact me via email through this site for information.