Sometimes people give me the most unusual gifts. I was sitting in my classroom today when an acquaintance unexpectedly gave me a vinyl record from 1972 titled Oklahoma Chants for the Classroom, compiled by Louis W. Ballard. I wasn't quite sure how to respond, so I simply thanked the individual and accepted the gift.
My daughter got a record player for Christmas, so I had an easy way to play the record. As it turns out, the album was an instructional recording for school children. After each song, a narrator gave additional information about each tribal culture represented on the record. He also provided translations and musical transcriptions for every song. Ballard was a Cherokee-Quapaw composer with a passion for Native American music. The music seemed authentic, even if the presentation was somewhat outdated.
The Kiowa Church Hymn impressed me as it proclaimed in the Kiowa language:
Thank you Son of God. God's help is real.
As I listed to the record, I found myself singing along and remembering our visit to St. Louis last summer. We met some of our long lost relatives for the first time and discovered that they have a strong Kiowa connection. Now we are all connected as family.