If you look in to web in order to understand about native americans, the closest of definition that you might get will be on Wikipedia (though some self appointed “educated” people will have issue with that too). The definition states and I quote :
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as intact political communities. The terms used to refer to Native Americans are controversial; according to a 1995 US Census Bureau set of home interviews, most of the respondents with an expressed preference refer to themselves as American Indians or Indians
My introduction to native american culture began via Hollywood movies (irony as Hollywood was accused of stereotyping native americans, the winning speech given on Oscars when Marlon Brando won Oscar for Godfather was a proof of that).1990s was different however,I guess there was a whole range of Native American movies which came in the 1990s. There were some traditional folk background music too which came along. I would however point to brad Pitt starer, The legends of the Fall. It was my first tryst with the native American culture.With the rise of internet and YouTube in particular one could see much more amount of information flowing about their culture, this time it is the native americans who are telling about themselves. The whole propaganda of “civilized” people against them, seems to have given way to the truth.
Their folk songs specially are very beautiful and it is a shame how they were exploited by the “civilized” and “educated” world. Hollywood specially seems to have changed the phenomena of associating native Americans with a barbarian with no culture. The last samurai showed, Tom Cruise’s character of Captain Nathan Algren living a life of guilt for killing innocent native Americans. The king of Japan also questions the captain about the fierce fighting nature of the native Americans, so does the commander of samurais (who was fighting against “modern” ideology of warfare)
I guess however , Twilight brought the culture to more notice in the present day generations ( though detractors might remain there too). Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) played the role of a native American. The commercial success of the movie will certainly generate more interest in the international community about native Americans and their beautiful music.
The fine director of legends of the fall and the Last samurai, Edward Zwick has a sympathetic take on native history, thereby he reflects that it in his films too. (I for one love his movies). I guess the movie spirit on a stallion was also huge drawing point for me towards native American culture. Young children in particular were made aware of 19 century scenario. I think in reality, it comes down to is ridiculing the culture of people who might not match the dominating culture or civilization in terms of fire power or economic might. This reminds me of the magisterial approach of the British about India too, which was narrated in amartya sen’s The argumentative Indian.
However in the movie stallion, I enjoyed a couple of things very much,the wide fields and the spirit of stallion to never give up and in particular the song “here I am” by Brian Adams. (spelled it right I guess, mostly I end up writing brain than brian).The background in the anime film was I think of the fields of Oklahoma (It is just a guess, but it is a possibility that background was of California) .
I think that Disney and other studios must take up projects like this and make more movies with the native american culture and music in the background. With so many TV shows ranking in high popularity, a TV show on native american culture may not be a bad idea too.
Apart from the music on YouTube, the Facebook pages of the native American community is also a good source of information and knowledge.
Though the irony is that not a single president of United States has being from native american ethnicity till date. May be in time to come there might come a day when a native american is president of United states.
Anyway, I have been searching about the native American music over the net with some success. I have found loads of good music and one hopes that the young people who are updating it never stop,since an INDIAN on the east side of the world will watching and waiting !