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Odd S. Halseth Collection of Native American Social Songs and Interviews

Identifier: MU-22

Scope and Content

The Odd S. Halseth Collection of Native American Social Songs and Interviews consists of 278 field recordings made in 1950 and 1965. The recordings consist of social songs, dances, violin and vocal presentations, and oral history interviews and commentaries about Native American customs, social life, ceremonies, and rituals. In some cases Halseth discussed the songs and dances within the recordings, interviewed the people, or taped commentaries on their meaning made by the presenters. Native groups included in the recordings are: Acoma, Apache, Caddo, Cochiti, Comanche, Hopi, Jemez, Kiowa, Mohawk, Navajo, Omaha, Pima (Akimel O’odham), San Juan (Ohkay Owingeh), Seneca, Seri, Shoshone, Taos, Tarahumara, and Zuni.

Recordings include a Gahan ceremony of the Apache Mountain Spirits, Matachines dances, a song of traveling to California for trading, a Taos clown dance, a song from Cochiti composed in 1944 for those in World War II, Koshare and Christmas Buffalo songs. Also included are lullabies, war, death, and burial songs, as well as songs relating to riding, hunting, tracking, animals, harvest, piñon, and peyote. There is also a recording of the building, corn meal, and fire blessing songs performed at the Navajo Edsido hogan at Pueblo Grande in 1950. The artist was Pop Chalf and the Medicine Man was Chee Carol, both of Chinlee.

Interviews in the collection include Juan Gachupin at Jemez Pueblo in 1965, translated by Joe R. Gachupin. Juan Gachupin tells of his family, schooling, trips to Bernalillo and Albuquerque, early warfare, dances, matachines, festivals at Pecos and Santo Domingo, kiva bosses, hunting, and running. In addition, he discusses witches, the use of sewing machines, diet, plants and food, work and enjoyment, farming and grazing, ditch digging, use of manure in pottery making, early trade items, and trading at the Musselman Store. Halseth also interviewed Segomi, a Navajo, at Bosque Redondo, in 1950. The translator was Robert Tall Salt. These recording include songs by Alice Carroll and children. Several are about the Navajos’ experiences in the Long Walk and at Bosque Redondo and Fort Sumner. Other interviews and song recordings were done in Arizona with Sam and Ed Lee of Chinlee, the Chinle Team, Deerwater of Lukachukai, and Luke, from Navajo Mountain. Other performers named include David Lightning, a Hopi vocalist; Jose Juan Morena, a Seri violinist; and Elenterio Suina and Ofraso Sueena, both vocalists from Cochiti.

Material in Navajo, Towa (Jemez), Hopi, Keres (Cochiti), and English

Cassette numbers 1-10 contain material recorded in 1965 and cassettes 11-16 contain material recorded in 1950. No transcripts are available.

Forms part of John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music.


  • 1950-1965

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publications or distribution.

Biography / History

Odd Sigurd Halseth (1893-1966) lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and was an anthropologist, museum director, educator, author, art critic and lecturer. He earned his Masters in Science from the University of Southern California.

Halseth was born in Moss, Norway, in 1893. As a young man, he studied electrical engineering and anthropology in Germany. He left home and went to sea, in time becoming a marine engineer. He served both Norway and the United States during World War I. While training for warfare in San Diego, he met Dr. Edgar L. Hewett. After the war Halseth went to California and worked for Hewett as curator of art at the San Diego Museum, (1922-1923). In 1923 he went to New Mexico and joined the staff of the School of American Research in Santa Fe. He also worked for the Museum of New Mexico as curator of the Puye archaeological site. In 1927, Halseth became director of the newly established Arizona Museum in Phoenix. In 1929, he was put in charge of the Phoenix Pueblo Grande Ruin, which sat amidst a large Hohokam culture site. Realizing its educational potential, he built and founded the open air Pueblo Grande Museum. He prepared the displays, wrote educational booklets, and provided classroom instruction at the site. Halseth served as the Phoenix City Archaeologist and Superintendent of the city’s Division of Archaeology until his retirement in 1960.

Halseth was a fellow of the American Anthropological Association; a member of the Society of American Archaeology and an honorary member of the Arizona Art Guild. He was judge and chairman of the Gallup Ceremonial Indian Arts and Crafts Exhibitions from 1927-1956. Halseth wrote several publications on Arizona archaeology, including Prehistoric Irrigation in the Salt River Valley (1936); Hohokam Pottery Designs (1941); Arizona’s 1500 Years of Irrigation History (1947) and A Brief Sketch of Pueblo Grande, a Municipal Prehistoric Monument (1950). He co-authored Adobe Ovens, Fireplaces and Interiors (1938) with Elizabeth Hart, and an article with E. Boyd on the Laguna santero with an accompanying report on repair work at the Zia Mission, in El Palacio, 1977. Halseth contributed articles to International Studio; Design; Arizona Highways; Arizona Woman; San Diego Union (art notes); Arizona Republic (art notes); and numerous museum publications. He lectured on primitive art, Indian arts and crafts, and ecclesiastical art in the New World. He also did a radio series, "Forward Arizona."

Sources: El Palacio, Hunress, Diana. "Odd Halseth, One Man’s Pueblo," v. 83, no. 3, Fall 1977 People in History : an Index to U.S. and Canadian Biographies in History Journals and Dissertations, Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO,1998 Who Was Who in American Art, Madison, Conn : Sound View Press,1999


1 box (17 audiotapes, 16 CDs (ca. 24 hrs.)


This collection consists of 278 sound recordings made in 1950 and 1965. It contains social songs, dances, violin and vocal presentations, oral history interviews and commentaries about Native American customs, social life, ceremonies and rituals.

Related Material

Duplicate tapes from 1950 are held by the Archives of Traditional Music, Indiana University Library, Bloomington and the Music Library, World Music Archives, Wesleyan University.

Manuel Archuleta Collection of Pueblo Indian, Navajo and Hopi Music Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Odd S. Halseth Collection Hayden Library, Arizona State University Odd S. Halseth-Pueblo Grande Photograph Collection Hayden Library. Arizona State University McClintock-Halseth collection Arizona Historical Foundation James B. Wright Collection of Southwestern Native American and Hispanic Music, Interviews and Literary ProgramsCenter for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Paul Tosa Collection of Jemez Pueblo Music Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Sally Noe collection of Gallup oral histories and Southwest Native American music Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Separated Material

Archival tapes in B3.


Note: CD 1 - Recording is of poor quality.

Processing Information

Cassettes were reformatted to CDs in June 2011.

Processing Information

Index compiled by Adrian Trevino.
Finding Aid of the Odd S. Halseth Collection of Native American Social Songs and Interviews, 1950-1965
Monique Durham
© 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131