Pelah Hoyt: Music historian Joseph Mussulman says music is mentioned about thirty times in the journals. William Clark is particularly pleased when the men sing and dance or are "merry," as Clark puts it. The men brought jews harps along as well as a fiddle.
Joseph Mussulman: Pierre Cruzatte had a fiddle, and he was very popular with the men and very popular among the Indians. Can you imagine? Many of these people had never seen a white person before, to begin with, and then to hear their music. This is magical stuff, because of the place of music in Indian culture generally. They may have picked up Indian instruments along the way, Sergeant Ordway refers to a tambourine.
During the winter stay among Mandans in 1804-1805, at Christmas time, New Year's Day as a matter of fact, Sergeant Ordway remarks that a bunch of the guys go to one of the Mandan villages. They go from house to house, from lodge to lodge, and sing and dance. They take their tambourine with them and the sounding horn.
The sounding horn was just a signaling horn, it was not a trumpet. You couldn't play a tune on it. It was a noise maker, and we know how noise makers go with New Year's, right? Same thing then. But they were...this going from house to house was a southern tradition that was known as "breaking up Christmas"--where rural families would go, day to day, around the neighborhood, maybe a day's travel from one house to another, and celebrate Christmas together that way, with their neighbors.