Episode 4: The Bird Singers of the Southwest

Bird singing is an oral tradition that has been passed down for centuries among the tribes across the American Southwest. These stories are sung by male members of tribes – from young boys to elders – whose only accompaniment is a gourd fashioned into a shaker. But the threat of COVID-19 has forced these traditions online, in isolation. 


Reporter Risa Johnson covered the bird singers and Native American affairs in California as a Report for America corps member. Read her recent dispatch on efforts to increase voter turnout among Native Americans, part of a reporting collaboration with PBS’ American Experience:

The action, and promise, behind Native American representation in the U.S.

In the meantime, catch up on the latest episode: