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Radio Biography Notes

Radio Biography Script

Producer, writer, narrator: Stephen Smith
Associate producer: Kitty Eisele
Technical director: John Scherf
Project manager: Nancy Fushan
Production assistant: Stephanie Curtis
Voice of Frances Densmore: Brenda Wehle
Voice of newsreel: Bob Christiansen

This program was made possible, in part, with funding from the Minnesota Humanities Commission, in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Minnesota State Legislature. Additional funding provided by the Red Wing Shoe Company and by the Prairie Island Tribal Council, on behalf of the Prairie Island Tribal Community.

Minnesota Pubic Radio and the producers are indebted to a number of people who helped with the research and production of this documentary: Nina Archabal of the Minnesota Historical Society; Larry Aitken of the Leech Lake Tribal College; Thomas Vennum Jr. of the Smithsonian Institution; Judith Gray of the Library of Congress and Lorraine Norrgard of Cloquet, Minnesota.

Please note that historical quotations of Densmore and the newsreel announcer are taken from primary sources, but may have been edited or combined for narrative economy. These quotations accurately reflect Densmore's attitudes and feelings, but should not be duplicated as verbatim statements. Please look to the primary sources for exact quotations. All contemporary interviews transcribed here are verbatim.

The abbreviation SFX stands for "sound effect."


1. Wabezic, Friendly Song, (AFS 10,528:A4)and Mrs. Mee, Why Should I Be Jealous? (#10,523:A1) from the Densmore Chippewa cylinder collection, Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. All subsequent cylinder references are to collections in the Archive.

2. Elements of this quotation come from several sources. See France Densmore, Chippewa Music (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1910), 1; "Some Results of Study of Indian Music," (paper prepared for the Academy of Athens, March 22, 1928), 1, Library of Congress, Music Division, Densmore papers, Scrapbook 11 [subsequent references to this manuscript collection will be abbreviated LC]; "How Indians Seek Power Through Dream Music," in Musical America (June 11, 1927) LC Scrapbook 4; "Sioux and Chippewa Music," typed copy of manuscript for a talk given on WCCO Radio, February 2, 1932, LC Scrapbook 18; "The Study of Indian Music," Musical Quarterly (15 April, 1915), 187-197.

3. Larry Aitken, interview with the author, tape recording, Cass Lake, MN, 9 September 1994.

4. Recorded at the Fort Yates Pow Wow, Fort Yates, ND, 6 August 1994.

5. Carl N Degler, In Search of Human Nature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 3-31; Curtis M. Hinsley, The Smithsonian and the American Indian (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press 1981), 77-80; Joseph Jorgensen, The Sun Dance Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972), 18; see also the annual reports from the period of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior.

6. James McLaughlin, report of the United States Indian Agent at Standing Rock Indian Agency, Dakota Territory, in Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to the Secretary of the Interior (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1884), 96-101.

7. Densmore, Teton Sioux Music and Culture, (1918, originally Teton Sioux Music, reprint, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1992), 93-94.

8. Information on Densmore's appearance and manner came from a number of sources, including photos of Densmore and the following tape recorded interviews with the author: Charles Hofmann, St. Petersburg, FL, 14 August, 1994; Monroe Killy, Minneapolis, 31 August, 1994; Charles Biederman, Red Wing, MN, 26 July, 1994; Gladys Holst, Red Wing, 1 September, 1994; also see Charlotte Frisbie, "Frances Theresa Densmore" in Women Anthropologists (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), 54.

9. Thomas Vennum Jr., interview with the author, tape recording, Washington, DC, 3 August, 1994. Vennum is a senior ethnomusicologist with the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies at the Smithsonian Institution.

10. C. C. Andrews, "Narrative of the Third Regiment," in Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars (St. Paul: printed for the state by the Pioneer Press, ca. 1890), 158-162.

11. Inter-tribal dance song, Flandreau Indian School Drum Group, recorded March 1991.

12.Densmore, I Heard an Indian Drum, an undated five-page autobiographical manuscript, Frances Densmore Papers, National Anthropological Archives, Box 2, Item 16. Subsequent references to this collection will be abbreviated NAA.

13. Blair Fairchild, "Some Indian Songs and Dances," from The American Indianists, compact disc, Marco Polo #8-223715.

14. Nina Archabal, "Frances Densmore, Pioneer in the Study of Indian Music," in Women of Minnesota, Selected Biographical Essays (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1977), 94-115. Densmore's study of Indian music was inspired by the writings of Alice C. Fletcher, a pioneer in the field associated with the Peabody Museum.

15. Archabal, interview with the author, tape recording, St. Paul, 19 September, 1994. Archabal is Director of the Minnesota Historical Society.

16. Frances Densmore to W.H. Holmes, 30 March, 1903. Bureau of American Ethnology correspondence, NAA.

17. For a description of BAE anthropology when Densmore began her work, see Hinsley, 262-289. Contacted by telephone in 1994, an Oberlin College official said Densmore did not receive a degree.

18. Holmes to Densmore, 2 April, 1903. Bureau of American Ethnology correspondence, NAA.

19. Densmore, "I Heard an Indian Drum" "Prelude to the Study of Indian Music," The Minnesota Archaeologist (XI, April, 1945), 27-31.

20. "Animal Crackers Lure Indians..." This unidentified newspaper clipping appears to be the type-style of the St. Paul Dispatch. LC Scrapbook 5.

21. Holmes at the BAE sent money to Densmore twice in 1907. The initial $150 Densmore spent on an Edison phonograph machine. See Densmore's scrapbooks in the Library of Congress.

22. Desnmore, "I Heard an Indian Drum," 4.

23. Frisbie, 52.

24. Holy Face Bear, Song of the Famine, (10,578:A3), Densmore Teton Sioux cylinder collection.

25. Densmore, "Lecture on The Sioux Sun Dance for the Anthropological Society of Washington, April, 1913," typescript dated 1944, LC Box 17.

26. Meckawigabau, Moccasin Game Song, (10,551:B3), Densmore Chippewa cylinder collection.

27. Densmore, "I Heard an Indian Drum."

28. "Songs the Indians Taught Her," Minneapolis Sunday Tribune, 23 October, 1949.

29. Densmore to Hofmann, 11-13 November, 1943 and 26 March, 1945. Hofmann personal collection.

30. Charles Hofmann, interview with the author, tape recording, St. Petersburg, FL, 14 August 1994.

31. For Densmore's financial relationship with the Smithsonian and Library of Congress, see Densmore Papers in the NAA and LC Scrapbooks. See also unsorted papers in the Library's Archive of Folk Culture. For an example of the BAE's attitude, see Stirling to Henry Allen Moe, 8 December, 1934, BAE Correspondence (NAA).

32. Densmore to J.W. Fewkes, 24 October 1918, BAE Correspondence.

33. For Frances Densmore's relationship with Margaret see Densmore's to Hofmann, 28 September 1994, Hofmann collection; Densmore to Stirling, 18 July 1931, BAE Correspondence; Densmore to Spivacke, 15 March 1941 and 21 April 1947, Densmore correspondence, Archive of Folk Culture, Library of Congress.

34. Catherine Ullrich, interview with the author, tape recording, 1 September 1994.

35. Death certificate, Goodhue County Recorder's Office, Red Wing, MN.

36. Larry Bullhead, interview with the author, tape recording, McLaughlin, SD, 8 August 1994.

37. See Teton Sioux Music and Culture, 497-501.

38. Wayne Valliere, interview with the author, tape recording, Lac du Flambeau, WI, 23 September, 1994.

39. Sue Ann Defoe, Reva Chapman and Joe Chosa, interview with the author, tape recording, Lac du Flambeau, 22 September, 1994.

40. Wabezic, Friendly Song (10,528:A4), Densmore Chippewa cylinder collection.

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