Waila! Making the People Happy

Tohono O’odham tribal members playing accordions and saxophones in the southern Arizona desert is more reminiscent of old world polka than a present-day tribal favorite among the O’odham Nations.

Daniel Golding, the filmmaker behind Waila! Making the People Happy, grew up in Arizona listening to such melodies—a historical blend of European instruments infused with modern-day electric keyboards and guitars. The music the O’odham call waila is derived from the Spanish word for dance, baila.

Central European immigrants brought polka music to America in the mid-19th century, but the people of the O'odham Indian Nations in Arizona's Sonora desert have made the mixture of accordians, saxophones and percussion all their own. Taken from the word "baila," which means "dance" in Spanish, Akimel and Tohono people have created "waila."

Daniel Golding graduated Cum Laude from San Francisco State University receiving a BA in Film Production and a minor in American Indian Studies.

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