Music, School of


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Copyright © 2022 Peter Lefferts


This is the fourth of five on-line text files in which I assemble my research notes about boys’ bands and their bandmasters at the US government’s Native American off-reservation inter-tribal boarding schools. It is material that covers a span of about fifty years from the 1880s to the 1930s. I principally have put into some kind of order a mass of data that draws upon online digital newspapers and genealogy databases. What follows here is not a finished, polished document. Everything on offer is still work in progress, inconsistent in formatting and with missing data and the occasional typographical error. I invite queries, amplifications, and corrections, which may be directed to The present document is a first draft of December 2022.

This document presents brief biographical sketches of some of the most important European-American and Native-American bandmasters at the federal government’s major Native American off-reservation inter-tribal boarding schools. They worked at the schools with the biggest and liveliest extra-curricular band programs. The time span here is from the origins of each school’s program into the 1930s or 1940s. The concentration in every case is on the individual bandmaster’s public career. Band histories for eight major schools are provided in a separate document (Project File 3), and some of the bandmasters who are not individually sketched here receive attention there. Repetition between band history and bandmaster biographies is inevitable, as the leading bandmasters mostly circulated between the leading schools; theirs are inextricably intertwined stories.

Exceptions are made here to add brief biographical surveys of Samuel McCowan, not a bandmaster but a major figure in band history who was the superintendent at Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Chilocco; Harold A. Loring, not a bandmaster but the Supervisor of Native Music for the Office of Indian Affairs in 1905-1906 who pushed for the introduction of indigenous music into the boarding schools; William Winneshiek, a Carlisle-trained musician who ran a professional band in the 1930s and whose career intersected with that of James Riley Wheelock; and Lem Wiley, who took over the St. Louis Exposition band.