Old Time Music

Flying Indian

In our last CD, Come Back Boys and Feed the Horses, we recorded a “Flying Indian” tune from Carroll County, Virginia. I was unable to trace the tune. Shortly after the release I received an e-mail with links to newspaper articles from the late 1800s with accounts of US Cavalry being chased by the “Flying Indians” and vice versa. Sadly my computer crashed and I lost those references. This tune is entirely different, earlier, and found in Knauff’s Virginia Reels (1839). In the early 1820s the American circus tradition was seeking to move away from its British origins. Consequently the pantomime of scenic riding was introduced. This involved a rider on horseback dressed up in some fancy garb and riding back and forth in front of an audience. In 1825 Samuel Tatnal did “Indian Hunter.” Others performed “Indian Chief” and “Flying Indian.” They depicted Indians on the hunt or the warpath, dancing, shooting bow and arrow, battle scenes and more. These “Indian” scenes depicted Eastern native people – Shawnee, Mohicans, Seminoles. This scenic riding died out in the 1870s and was replaced by Whirlwind riding and acrobatics on horseback. Chris fiddle; adae.
A New Beginning - painting