Collage with images of three Native American men that George Herzog recorded in 1928 at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Three informants for the Herzog Yanktonai-Dakota Collection - (from left to right) Two Shields, No Heart, and Jerome Standing Soldier - State Historical Society of North Dakota, Detail from 1952-06242, 1952-5001, and 1952-3007.


Location: Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, North Dakota
Dates: 1928
Format:  Phonograph cylinder
Accession Number: 54-110-F

George Herzog  (1901-1983) made this collection of 195 wax cylinder recordings in 1928 at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Fort Yates, North Dakota. At the time the Standing Rock recordings were made, Herzog was a recent émigré and a twenty-seven-year-old doctoral student in anthropology at Columbia University working on his Ph.D under the guidance of Franz Boas. This particular research trip was sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History. Herzog subsequently worked with the native Yanktonai scholar and fellow Boas student, Ella Deloria, on the translation of the song texts. 

Herzog’s collection of wax cylinder recordings from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation is one of 25 historically and culturally significant recordings added to the National Recording Registry for 2017. The Standing Rock collection consists of recordings of songs sung by seven middle-aged and elderly men who lived in the Fort Yates area for most of their lives. The singers include Edward Afraid-of-Hawk (born c. 1874), Two Shields (born c. 1873), Joe No Heart (born c. 1846), Jerome Standing Soldier (born c. 1880), Has Tricks (born c. 1867), Fred Luis (born c. 1883), and Watċíbidiza (born c. 1853). Herzog made an effort to record both old and new songs that the men knew and thus documented changes in expressive culture that happened after the Lakota were moved into the reservation system. Originally part of the Great Sioux Reservation established by the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868, the Standing Rock Reservation was created in 1889 when the US Congress reduced the Great Sioux Reservation and divided it into six separate smaller reservations. 

The Lakota language heard on these recordings is today spoken fluently by only 5,000 people, making it a language that linguists consider endangered and at risk of becoming moribund. Early recordings like those in the collection made by George Herzog are valuable to tribal members for both language and cultural revitalization efforts. In addition to the original phonograph cylinders, the ATM holds fieldnotes and transcriptions by George Herzog, along with comments on the song text translations by Ella Deloria.

Herzog went on to teach at Columbia and Yale between 1932 and 1948 and was the first person to teach comparative musicology in the United States. After joining the faculty at Indiana University in 1948, he was responsible for establishing the study of ethnomusicology at IU through his courses in comparative musicology, folk music, and music-centered anthropology.

Sample 1: Song of the Spider in the story about Spider and the Ducks. Sung by Watċíbidiza (75 year old Yanktonai). 1928. United States, North Dakota, Fort Yates, Standing Rock Reservation (SCY 3244)

Sample 2: Song for the kaxómini dance, from the Crow. Sung by Edward Afraid of Hawk (age about 42). 1928. United States, North Dakota, Fort Yates, Standing Rock Reservation. (02:13).  This song was a new song for the Yanktonai at that time, coming from the Crow about three years prior. It was very popular at the time (SCY 3248).