Josh Garrett-Davis, “Indian Jukebox: Commercial Records of Native American Music, 1894–1950”
February 22, 2017
The first commercial records of American Indian music were released in 1895 by the Berliner Gramophone Company. Half a century later, Native entrepreneurs founded two record labels, Tom Tom and American Indian Soundchiefs, claiming a kind of acetate sovereignty. Tracing an Indigenous discography across this period illuminates the relationships among ethnography, colonialism, capitalism, and cultural sovereignty as modern Native people built their place in the twentieth century.
Josh Garrett-Davis is an assistant curator at the Autry Museum of the American West. He is a Ph.D. candidate in U.S. history at Princeton University, finishing a dissertation titled, “Resounding Voices: American Indians and Audio Technology, 1890–1970.”