6 works that honor Native American Heritage Day

Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate is an American Indian classical composer and pianist. Courtesy of the artist

November 15, 2022

Native American Heritage Day started in 2008 to honor the contributions that Native Americans gave to the United States. While the history of the holiday and the general spirit of Thanksgiving has been tumultuous to our indigenous populations, their traditions should be honored. While these pieces represent only a fraction of the indigenous people’s heritages, celebrate the rich tapestry of cultures with six compositions from Native American composers.

Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate ‘Ihollo’ ('Love)

Tate is a classical composer and a member of the Chickasaw Nation. He has had works commissioned by many major orchestras, including the Minnesota Orchestra, San Francisco Orchestra and National Symphony. 

Brent Michael Davids ‘Zuni Sunrise Song’ 

Davids is a composer and flutist from the Mohican Nation Stockbridge–Munsee Band. He has composed music for the National Symphony Orchestra, Zeitgeist and the Kronos Quartet. He also has created film music. 

Raven Chacon ‘American Ledger no. 1’

American Ledger no. 1
This is the performance score for 'American Ledger no. 1.'
Raven Chacon

As a Navajo composer of experimental noise music, Chacon has participated in art installations, solo and collective works representing Native Americans around the world. 

Dawn Avery ‘Hohonkweta'ka:ionse’

Avery is a Mohawk composer that blends many broad musical styles and genres in her works. By interweaving traditional and contemporary Native American music with classical, she has been invited to work on award-winning films, art installations and large-scale multimedia projects such as 50 Shades of Red

Dennison Wheelock ‘The Carlisle Indian School March’

Oneida composer Dennison Wheelock was a bandmaster and cornetist who eventually became an American Indian rights attorney. Before that, he led the Carlisle Indian Band, U.S. Indian Band and was nominated to be the U.S. Marine Band bandmaster after John Philip Sousa.

Thomas Sleeper Symphony No. 1: Mvt. 1

Thomas Sleeper is an accomplished Cherokee conductor and composer. His works lead toward the avant-garde and can take on a mysterious aura. Starting his career as the associate conductor of the Dallas Civic Symphony, he later began to compose symphonies, operas and chamber music. 


Dawn Avery (official site)

Raven Chacon (official site)

Brent Michael Davids (official site)

Thomas Sleeper (official site)

Jerod Impichchaachaaha' Tate (official site)