Oneida Hymn Singers receive highest arts honor

The Oneida Hymn Singers are the recipients of a 2008 National Heritage Fellowship, the highest honor for folk and traditional artists.

The singers, who are members of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, carry on a tradition that began in 1795. They perform more than 100 Christian hymns a cappella in the Oneida language.

"The singers don't look at themselves as entertainers," Gordon McLester, one of group's members, told The Washington Post. "They are sharers of gifts because these songs are gifts."

The singers received their $20,000 award in Washington, D.C., last week and performed at a free concert. Other recipients this year included Horace P. Axtell, a member of the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho.

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Oneida Tribe's Hymns Keeping Heritage Alive (The Washington Post 9/20)