Lakota Music Project Heads to Washington D.C.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- A group of musicians is bridging the gap between cultures. They are a part of the Lakota Music Project, which is made up of members of the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra along with Lakota and Dakota Musicians. They combine the sounds of Lakota and European-based classical music. Emmanuel Blackbear is a singer with the group.

“The main thing is that we are all human beings. It doesn’t matter if race, color, you know whatever you are. We are all human beings so since I’ve been a part of the project that’s the part that kind of grabbed me,” said Blackbear. 

Ten years ago, the group began touring across South Dakota.

“On six reservations, in several different cities. We’ve played it for the governor during legislative session in Pierre,” said Delta David Gier, Music Director for South Dakota Symphony Orchestra. 

Now they’re headed to Washington D.C. for six days.

Gier says that’s thanks to a musicologist named Joseph Horowitz.

“He’s always believed that the Lakota Music Project needed a bigger platform,” said Gier. 

Horowitz invited them to perform in a festival at the National Cathedral. The group was also able to secure a performance at the Smithsonian of the American Indian while they’re in D.C.

The musicians feel honored to represent South Dakota on a more national scale and introduce folks to a different kind of musical experience.

“It is a new sound. It’s a totally different experience to listen to these things blended and we built it so carefully that I think both sides of the equation are represented equally rather than diminishing what the other side does,” said Gier. 

Through their music, they hope to teach people an important life lesson.

“The native and non-native music together and we can also work together as people,” said Blackbear. 

The Lakota Music Project heads to Washington D.C. October 16th and will be there through October 21st. This will be the group’s first time performing outside of South Dakota. 


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