Music Is My Livelihood

Verna’s Story
When my grandfather moved our family from South Dakota to Missouri, it was a piano that separated the horses from the cattle in the stock car of the train. I think that’s symbolic; music has always been a part of my family’s heritage.

Growing up, our house was always full of music. My talented mother could play the piano both by music and “by ear,” and my father played the harmonica. We only had one TV in the house, and would either watch whatever our father watched—which would frequently be Leonard Bernstein—or be sent off to read. My brothers and I learned how to play the piano (with varying degrees of success), so I grew up with an appreciation for all sorts of music, from classical to country to rock ‘n roll.

My family has always been proud of our Native American heritage. My great-grandfather was Oglala Sioux, and my great-grandmother was Northern Cheyenne. I’m enrolled at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation today, so I’m able to track my lineage and embrace my connection with the tribe. Music is an essential part of being Native American. It’s hard to describe, but when you hear Native American music, it’s a soul-touching experience.

We never thought of our relationship with music as “art” per se, but that’s precisely what it was. And it’s our livelihood.

Verna Edinger

About Verna
As Executive Assistant for the Nebraska Arts Council, Verna Edinger provides administrative support to the executive director and the organization. Additionally, she coordinates all travel and meeting arrangements for the agency, analyzes and routes requests for information, compiles materials and mailings, and performs additional administrative duties.

Prior to coming to the Nebraska Arts council, Verna served in administrative and leadership roles at the Hartford Financial Services. Verna attended Tarkio College, a liberal arts college in Tarkio, Missouri.  In her spare time, she enjoys the outdoors, spending time with family, and needlework.