Tony Isaacs
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2009 Honorary Member

Tony Isaacs co-founded Indian House Records in 1966 with Ida Lujan Isaacs in Taos, New Mexico. He began making field recordings in 1954, when he recorded Oglala Lakota singers at the Flagstaff Powwow in Arizona. Several thousand field recordings among tribes in the United States and Canada followed over the next twelve years. With over 150 titles available, Indian House has one of the largest catalogues of traditional Indian American music, all of it recorded on location outdoors and none of it mixed with other musical influences in the studio.

Informative liner notes are another hallmark of Isaacs’s recordings; these may explain song form, singing style, associated dances, lyrics and the use of vocables, drumming techniques, and a song’s social significance. He has also written on the history of recording traditional American Indian music. Some of his essays may be found on the Indian House website.

Isaacs graduated from University of California at Los Angeles with a degree in anthropology. Starting in 1962 he spent three summers at the Summer Institute of Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he studied the Kiowa language and began attending and recording Kiowa dances. On one of his Oklahoma sojourns he met Ida Lujan of Taos Pueblo; the two married in 1966 and opened a store named Indian House.

At the 2009 conference in Denver, Colorado, Isaacs treated conference goers to an illustrated lecture on the Plains music of the powwow, supported by live performances.