Why Music Matters: Navajo Musician Clarence Clearwater ‒ Music Heals

Clarence Clearwater performs his musical interpretation of traditional Navajo songs on the Grand Canyon railroad. He shared this story with us about how music has given him an option to express himself in ways other people, such as his grandfather, did not have.


Listen to the story:

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Here’s some background: In the 1920s the federal government grew concerned that large numbers of Navajo livestock were overgrazing and causing soil erosion. In 1933, a man called John Collier became head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The next year he initiated a program to reduce the number of animals owned by Navajo people through sales and slaughter.

To read more about these policies and their effect, check out Dine: a history of the Navajos.

Music used in this piece: “...for a little while” and “Dance Easy – Skip Dance” by Clarence Clearwater.

Check out the other stories in the Why Music Matters story series.

Produced by Anna Boiko-Weyrauch, AIR’s Live Interactive Resident for Fall 2010. Editorial oversight by Kevin Cole. Engineering help by Matt Ogaz. Live Interactive is a collaboration of KEXP and AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio with financial support from AIR members worldwide, Recovery.gov, and the National Endowment for the Arts which believe a great nation deserves great art.

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