The Kiowa Peyote Meeting Disc 2

Ethnic Folkways Library FE 4601
Recorded and edited by Harry Smith

It is difficult for us to comprehend systems different from those we have become conditioned to, and thus it is that any explanation of Kiowa musical systematics is almost impossible to put in European words. A brief attempt is necessary, however.

Each class of Kiowa songs possesses its own particular type of opening and closing phrases. In addition perhaps a third of the Kiowa songs have what are usually called "words, the rest are what the Kiowa call "plain" --they consist of syllables only. There is no doubt that these syllables have fairly definite sets of emotional connotations. They are symbols in the same way that a white line means "Feather" (and hence "sky" or "up" or "joy") or a red line "ground" (and hence "earth" or "down" or "sadness") in the Kiowa beadwork. From a linguistic standpoint the vowel series of the "plain" songs conform to phonetic patterns more or less coincident with Plains Culture. There are extensions of the most common syllable series down the Mississippi and into the Algonquin North East. More specifically, they are coincident with the distribution of the Plains - vocabulary sign language of which the Kiowa were perhaps the greatest masters.
Nettl gives a dated but still valuable analysis of Plains music. According to that author the Peyote songs are relatively recent and have characteristics that distinguish them from other songs of the same areas. If, and when, George Saloe's main mass of Kiowa songs are issued these differences will be discussed. It is interesting to compare Nettl's statements regarding the music with some of those Winston gave in his description of the 'Tour Songs. " Winston says: "It's not the music, not the Jehovah's staff; it's that thunder that's balled up (in the drum) and the history that goes with it; and the whip what you call a drumstick." - "The songs that you hear don't have no words in them; but still they're the Gods' sounds that are given to the Indians (and) that the white man don't understand." - "The wind that you hear out here, the sound of the reed and of the grass, the sounds of the birds that you hear out here, the sounds of your everyday living, the way that your Father in Heaven made, your Father in Heaven, you know, that!"

When I awoke, after my first uncomfortable night on the floor of the "walk-around" in the jail, I saw by the increasing light on the wall at my feet that most ancient and thoughtful of designs, the circular and interlocked rainbows. Next to it there is an amazingly stylized drawing of a deer by a tree - a type of art which A.S. later explained "came from Siberia." Further to the left there is a scissor-tail bird above an upturned moon lettered "Peyote Altar." As I stared in amazement at this, my first friend D.W. came up and spontaneously gave a description of the Peyote Meeting which, despite the fact that I had read literature on the subject, and had eaten the herb itself frequently, for the first time made clear to me the purpose and ritual of the Native American Church. He also sang a song or two in a very low voice.

Peyote songs are likely the most popular kind of music among the Indians in Anadarko. Surprisingly, they are probably sung more frequently outside the meeting than in. People often divert themselves while driving, or sitting around, by singing them. I also have heard individuals walking alone humming them. Naturally, under these conditions there is no drum and sometimes not even a rattle. At home there is almost always a rattle handy and it is used. Sometimes a paper box is picked up and beaten like a drum, but this act is much more frequent with "49" songs than it is with Peyote songs. Individuals are also much more willing to sing other people's songs out of the Meeting than they are in the Meeting itself, where they try not to duplicate other singers' songs but to sing ones that 'belong" to themselves.

All of the songs in this set of records were sung under conditions that approximate the casual performances outlined above. They were made either in the home of the singer or in my hotel rooms at the Bryan. I had the opportunity of making recordings at an actual ceremony but decided against it; first, because I was anxious to record commentaries on the songs and, second, because I knew that several other persons were jeopardizing their chances of knowledge by making recordings at Meetings. At any rate, probably more can be learned, by the audience these records are intended for, from the descriptions that Winston and Everett gave, than could be gained from excerpts of an actual Meeting. The main discrepancy these records suffer from is a lack of samples of drumming. The specialized peyote drum is of the greatest beauty, and the variety of tones that a good drummer can make, truly astounding. Its throb weaves among the notes of the tune and gives an impressiveness to the "Peyote Meeting" that once heard is never forgotten. But, due to my desire to get casual rather than ceremonial versions of the songs, I present no records with the drum. There are a number of rather inferior examples of drumming on other recordings, and it is hoped that in the future it will be possible to record this instrument in its full beauty.

Although the drum is mentioned more times on the recordings than is the rattle, the latter is the peyote instrument par excellence. I was often told that while it was possible to get along without the drum, the rattle provided the "real" accompaniment to the melodies, in fact was inseparable from the Peyote songs, Like the peyote plant itself the form of the rattle is an object to be commented on artistically. It is made from a species of small necked gourd cut off a little more than halfway up the neck. Into this neck a wooden plug, loosely attached to a handle, is fitted. The plug can be adjusted to give the desired tone as the beads, which are inside, strike the gourd. I made quite a collection of gourds in Anadarko. They are sold in various stages of manufacture in both of the pawn shops there as well as being available from individuals and even found wild. A good shaped gourd is round "like the sky" and is of an even light brown color. One that I got in Miss Tingley's pawn shop was of, to me, a beautiful red color but was said by others to be of an ugly darkness. Another was of a fine shape, but a scarcely perceptible dark stain on one side made it undesirable. Everett said "I wonder why they did that." Other gourds though of fine color and shape were too thick or too thin to give the desired ringing sound when used. In use the rattle is revolved clockwise with various front to back motions to vary the speed of the tone. The possibilities of this instrument are heard to advantage on the recordings of Henry Teimausaddle (side 3 , cut 7).

Sides 3 and 4 are devoted to what is called by me "Intercalation of songs." Between the "Four Songs" that mark the stages of the rite, and that are sung by the leader of the Meeting, a number of songs are sung by other participants. These always are sung in sets of four. When the Opening Song, Midnight Water Song, Morning Water Song, and Quitting Song are sung there are three other songs with them, again to make four. There are several minor variations in the way the sets of three songs that go with the "Four Songs" mentioned above are sung. They may be traditional, like the "Four Songs" themselves, or they may merely be favorite songs of the Leader. Each Leader seems to have his own conception of the way the ceremony is to be conducted and a simple division into "Kiowa Road" and "Peyote Road" sort of meetings sometimes given is far from true; there are all kinds of intermediaries and variations. It is probable that George's account comes closer to what has been referred to as the "Peyote Road" type than does Everett's for example. It is problematical where Ray's stands. I was unable to determine whether the three songs each he sings after the Opening Song, Midnight Water Song and Morning Water Song were bound to those songs by tradition or were only "Favorite Songs." The fact that he sings the Quitting Song without three others, however, seems to indicate that he followed a "Road" close to his brother Everett. George sings a "special" song to go with the Morning Water Song. "It ain't no Water Song, but it's a song that goes with those Morning Songs. (He translates the words "I'm watering the people in the tipi and all over; people.") He also says that three other songs are sung with the Midnight Water, Morning Water, and Quitting Songs and that the Quitting Song is last of its set of four, All of these sound like "Peyote Road" traits.

In the Meeting each person sings four songs (not the "Four Songs") as the drum makes it round and arrives at them. The recordings of Henry, and of Ray and Blossom on side 3 give what the singers considered appropriate sets of four ordinary songs. They are very artistically arrived at, contrasting tempos and ornamentation demonstrate what the singers considered to be an aesthetic series. Henry's four consecutive songs (Side 3, cut 7) are especially interesting, first, because of his unique mastery of the rattle and, second, because of his vocal tone. Everett and several other people remarked that Henry was noted for his high pitched, tensioned, singing voice. These two factors mark him as one of the great musicians of the American plains. Ray says the first three songs of his consecutive series (Side 3, cut 8) have no meaning. The last song derived from a vision he had in the Peyote Meeting before his grandson was born. It was of a stork carrying a baby. Blossom translates the words "I am the life; accept me, take me." On side 4 Ray sings the "Four Songs," the Starting Song, Midnight Song, and Morning Song each with three other songs. It is curious that while George doesn't mention three other songs to go with the Starting Song, Ray does, but the latter leaves out three other songs to go with the Quitting Song.

It will also be noticed that Blossom only begins to sing with Ray after he starts the series of songs he connects with the Morning Water Song (Side 4 cut 5) - "When the woman brings the water in." Blossom's Biblically oriented comments at the end of side 4 are illuminating. The order of creation was Earth, Sky, Waters, Living Creatures, Living Creatures in the Waters. This took seven days. "When he made this earth he made the Peyote." She says to look in the Book of Romans where it says "Seek of this herb." The Peyote is a cure for all ills; "sick in the mind, arthritis, heart, but you have to have faith in the Lord before you have your healing."
(continued on disc 3)

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



Starting Song George Saloe "Well, this song I'm going to sing; it's a Peyote song when they're in the tipi, they smoke, eat the Peyote, and a that's the Starting Song I'm going to sing this time." Kiowa
Midnight Song George Saloe "Next song is a Midnight Song when the fire chief goes after water, brings it in the tipi and they pray for that water and they drink the water, that's a Midnight Song I'm singing now." Kiowa
Morning Song George Saloe "Next one, next song it'll be Morning Song when the woman brings the water in, takes it in the tipi and water them peoples in there, them Peyote mans, and they prays and the woman prays, and (it) be daylight, daybreak, sunup. That Is when they bring the water in. The woman. That's Water Song for morning." Kiowa
Special Morning Song George Saloe Kiowa
Quitting Song George Saloe "Now this is the song that is the end of it. Quitting Song. They untie the drum and they pick up gourd, staff, sage, and they take it outside and it's all over. (Quitting Song) That's a Quitting Song. They always go out and it is all over; the Peyote in the tipi. That's all there is, that's all there is. No more 'til they have another Peyote Meeting, them songs." Kiowa
Intercalation Of Songs George Saloe Kiowa
Four Peyote Songs Henry Teimausaddle Kiowa
Four More Peyote Songs Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Opening Song Ray and Blossom Cozad "When you first starting that meeting, well you sing that song. Sing that song to get that meeting going. They go clockwise; to the right." (EVERETT: (rites before going in) tipi facing east. Prayer before going inside - "Watch me through the night, watch my prayers, watch my songs. Let nothing disturb me or scare me, let me see the sun come up. Go inside. Smoke. Pass peyote around. Drum goes round." WINSTON: "10, 15, 20, 30, 40 years I've heard --- that song that made that spirit come in.") Kiowa
Three Peyote Songs Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Midnight Song Ray and Blossom Cozad "Now! I'm going to sing you that Midnight (Song). We pause a while. When they get through singing that fourth song, they going to take a smoke, we going to pray Almighty, we going to ask him whatever we want. So I'm going to sing now. (EVERETT: Fire Chief goes out and comes in with water. Smoke cigarette. Pray for water he brought in. Pray for my people and family. Everett correlates the directions, rising and setting of the sun, and seasons with his prayer at this point. (Side I cut 2) To the East: "Watch over me. Let me see the sun come up; let me and my people see the day." To the South: "Help me; let me see more summer days." To the West: "My Heavenly Father, let me see the sun go down; let me spend more days." To the North: "Let me see many winter days; put a white blanket over the ground; make my ground rich.") WINSTON: Come to the bullseye, "Get the vis(ion)." Prayer. "When you come down to the bullseye. Zai-yaw is this wind blowing from the East." "They face their tipis to the East 'cause they knew at that time that the biggest portions of the storms and the winds came from the West, the North, and the South; but when they came from the East the white man calls them 'ill winds' but we call them 'Getting right down to the Bullseye, Zay-yaw'." "Things are going good, you have plenty to eat, your family sick gets well." (Second version) "This is --- when they call for the water and when everybody's sound asleep.") Kiowa
Peyote Song Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Peyote Song Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Peyote Song Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Morning Song Ray and Blossom Cozad "Now; this is the Morning Song. We're going to pause again. We've been praying all night long. Now it is daylight coming. We going to pray Almighty; the sun coming, the daylight coming, that we're happy this morning, we're happy this morning, that we're everybody in here happy and feel good, that we're going to pray for Almighty, that, take care of us and let us live long time; we pray for everybody in this world. So I'm singing this Morning Song." (EVERETT: Woman comes in. Brings water. Prayer for family by Water Woman. Smoke. Woman goes out. Start again. WINSTON: "Everybody drinks water in the morning---even the animals--That's when everybody in this world sees the dawn coming and they get up." (Second version) "That's when the woman brings in the water, makes a cigarette and prays for her family as well as her relatives, as well as the people that she likes."---"Even government officials.") Kiowa
Peyote Song Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Peyote Song Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Peyote Song Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Quitting Song Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Description Of The Meeting Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa
Origin Of Peyote Ray and Blossom Cozad Kiowa