Shilombisho Ittayallittook (Worth of the Soul): A Musical Tribute to American Indian Warriors

Jerod Tate


Performance forces:
narrator — orchestra/symphonic wind ensemble — chorus



One of the deepest and purest forms of American patriotism dwells in the American Indian soldier. Today, American Indians can boast the highest ethnic ratio of enlisted servicemen. In fact, one out of every five American Indians is a veteran. As ironic as this may seem, it is a continued testimony of the historic and cultural significance of the Indian warrior. Throughout Indian Country, veterans and servicemen are held in the highest regard and have a distinct place of honor. All pow-wows begin their Grand Entry with veterans carrying their perspective tribal flags, along side the United States flag. This may come as a surprise to some; however, it is a natural act for the Indian warrior who believes he is protecting both his homeland and his currently residing guests. The Indian warrior carries this dual responsibility of protection that outweighs any other, and he is worthy of transcendent honor. Warrior status is not achieved through one act of bravery, it is attained through a lifetime of demonstration. The warrior gladly sacrifices his entire life for the lives of his people. It is clear that the worth of his soul is truly immeasurable and beyond reproach. Shilombisho Ittayallittook is a poetic journey of a young Indian about to step into his hew warrior path. The narrator plays the part of a guide introducing him to different regions of Indian Country. The young person discovers that he is welcomed and supported by a legacy of Indian warriors throughout the continent, and that they each contribute unique powers to the collective voice of all Indian warriors. These varying regions of Indian Country are represented by contemporary orchestrations of social songs from different tribes. The chorus sings in the native Chickasaw language of the composer. Worth of the Soul is dedicated to my father, Honorable Charles Tate. I. Sunrise/Friendship Song (Hopi/Iroquois) II. Crazy Horse (Lakota) III. Stick Game (Paiute) IV. Sway Songs (Navajo) V. Gar Fish Song (Chickasaw) VI. Song for Lori Piestewa (Onieda) VII. Worth of the Soul (Choctaw)