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Indigenous Osage singers perform 'Wahzhazhe' at the Oscars, a song considered illegal until 1978

Indigenous people of America couldn't perform the Oscar-nominated 'Wahzhazhe' until 1978. The Osage singers proudly performed the same at the Oscars.

Indigenous Osage singers perform 'Wahzhazhe' at the Oscars, a song considered illegal until 1978
Cover Image Source: Scott George and The Osage Singers perform 'Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)' from "Killers of the Flower Moon" during the 96th Annual Academy Awards, March 10, 2024, Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Every cultural group is entitled to a right to practice their traditions, religion and more as it is. However, with discrimination and stereotypes, many cultures have to leave out traditions for the sake of abiding by the law. Thankfully, things are changing for the better. Mitu reported that the sacred "Wahzhazhe" which was not allowed to be performed till 1978, was recently sung by Osage singers at the Oscars.

Image Source: Scott George and The Osage Singers perform 'Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)' from
Image Source: Scott George and The Osage Singers perform 'Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)' from "Killers of the Flower Moon" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

 "Wahzhazhe" was nominated for an Oscars after being a part of the film, “Killers of the Moon,” featuring an Osage member, Lily Gladstone. The actor and a few others performed the track at the Oscars and it was a sentimental moment for every Osage member. @quote_the_rave shared the performance on Twitter with a caption explaining why the song held such importance.

Image Source: Scott George and The Osage Singers perform 'Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)' from
Image Source: Scott George and The Osage Singers perform 'Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)' from "Killers of the Flower Moon" onstage during the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“Why does this mean so much? This was illegal in the United States until 1978 with the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act,” the caption read. Right enough, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act passed in 1978 declared freedom to practice and worship through ceremonial and traditional rites and was aimed at preserving the traditional culture of the native tribes. "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" was nominated for the original song and the performance added to the recognition, celebration and pride of the Osage tribe.



 

Scott Geroge, Osage member and composer of the piece, told The Hollywood Reporter, “Our music is probably thousands of years old. For it to be recognized maybe for the first time, it’s overwhelming in that sense.” The director has been rendering the traditional song for quite a few years and understands the invaluable significance it holds to the tribe. Christopher Côté, language consultant and Osage member, translated "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" as “All the Osage stand up, God made this.” Adding more about the involvement of the song in the movie, George mentioned that it was requested by the director Martin Scorcese.



 

However, George was uncertain about how he could capture or record a ceremonial piece since cameras weren't allowed. He then decided to make a new song inspired by the tribe. “Our intention was… after the movie’s over, we could use it to honor our own people whenever something comes up.” George further mentioned how he had always adored the native form of music and wished to impart it to the world. He said, “I’ve been singing for over 40 years. All my life, I’ve always tried to introduce people to it. If somebody were to give it a little time to get used to it, they might come to understand it a little bit better.”



 

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