Mahkato Wacipi

Mahkato Wacipi

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Each year, Dakotah and Lakotah Native American nations gather to remember the hanging of the 38 in 1862, an episode of the U.S.-Dakotah war that ended with the quasi-genocide of this nation. The annual cultural event is organized by the Mahkato Mdewakanton Association, who in 2001 allowed producer Daniel P. Zielske to record the performances for the first time ever. The resulting two-CD set, Mahkato Wacipi, was released later that year. A big powwow with many drummers, singers, and dancers (including Mazakute, the Prairie Island Singers, and the Lower Sioux Drum) is not an easy thing to record. People move around and the music always manages to reach a new, unsuspected peak of intensity. Thus sound quality is not fantastic, but decent enough to immerse oneself into the moment. Stories told in English by Colin Wesaw and Bain Wilson bring a nice change of pace from the repetitive, incantatory songs. Native American music, especially these kind of remembrance songs involving only drums and chants, is something of an acquired taste. These pieces can appear simplistic -- and on some level they are. Their richness resides in the shifting rhythms and in the intensity of the playing, the collective catharsis they allude to. Over two hours of it can be difficult to stomach, but that does not make Mahkato Wacipi any less of an important document.

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