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Louis W. Ballard

Louis W. Ballard (July 8, 1931 – February 9, 2007) was a Native American composer, educator, author, artist, and journalist.

Ballard, who was of Cherokee, Quapaw, French and Scottish heritage, was born in the Native American community of Devil's Promenade, located near Quapaw, in northeast Oklahoma. His Quapaw name was Honganozhe, meaning "Stands With Eagles."

Ballard studied music at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Tulsa, where his composition instructor was Bela Rozsa; he later studied privately with Darius Milhaud, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Carlos Surinach, and Felix Labunski. He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1962, and became an instructor at the Institute of American Indian Arts, teaching there until 1975.

Ballard composed of numerous orchestral, choral, and chamber works, many composed on Native American themes or to texts in Native American languages. In addition, compiled several volumes of Native American songs for classroom use. His best known pieces are "Incident at Wounded Knee" and "Why the Duck Has a Short Tail"[1].

Ballard died February 9, 2007, at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 75 years old, and had battled cancer for about five years before his death.

His music was celebrated with three concerts at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. in 2006, and a memorial concert was held there on November 10, 2007.[1]



Ballard was the recipient of grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts. In February 1997 he received a Lifetime Musical Achievement Award from the First Americans in the Arts in Beverly Hills, California. The College of Santa Fe and William Jewell College awarded him honorary Doctor of Music degrees. In 2004 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.[2]


  • 1971 - Discovering American Indian Music. Directed by Bernard Wilets. Barr Films.


  1. ^ "Louis W. Ballard: Composer Fuses World With Native Sound", by Brenda Norrell, from Indian Country Today, September 2, 2004

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