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The Zotigh Singers

By Steven Franco

Ralph Zotigh, of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, comes from a long line of Native song composers. In 1996, he lent his last name to a new drum group and became known as the Zotigh Singers. Their unique sounds blend southern plains powwow songs with southwestern tribal sounds and influences. 

Dennis W. Zotigh (Kiowa/Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo/Isante Dakota Indian) is a member of the Kiowa Gourd Clan and San Juan Pueblo Winter Clan and a descendant of Sitting Bear and No Retreat, both principal war chiefs of the Kiowas. Dennis works as a writer and cultural specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. 

In 1997 the Zotigh singers won the most prestigious of all singing competitions at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque New Mexico. From this title they were invited to serve as host drum at the biggest powwows from coast to coast, in Canada and Alaska. The Zotigh singers have produced six CDs on the Indian House, Sweet Grass and Cool Runnings recording labels. These CDs are sold globally in music outlets in world music sections. Two of their CDs have been nominated for Native American Music Awards. Another CD has been nominated for the Aboriginal Peoples Award in Canada. The lead singer, Ralph Zotigh, was asked to join the staff of the Institute of American Indian Arts and teach Native singing. This group has recently relocated to the East Coast providing music for powwows, conventions, symposiums, meetings and banquets. In January of and 2013 and 2017, The Zotigh Singers were the host drum for the Inaugural Powwow and Ball held in Washington D.C.