White Eagle

Bob Dolfi

Several months ago, we were approached by South Dakota Public Broadcasting Company regarding them doing a 30 minute documentary on White Eagle, wherein they would trace his life from his roots to his greatest venues and to his eventual struggle with AIDS.
His story is centered on his first hearing Mario Lanza sing at the young age of five and immediately knowing that he was destined to become a singer. "When I was five years old, I saw Mario Lanza on television. When he sang there was magic. I couldn't express it then, but I knew that I wanted to do for others what Mario Lanza did for me. From that moment on, singing was all I ever dreamed of doing."
We supplied them with some pictures of Mario that were used in their documentary and Damon and I are very happy we did. The video was masterfully done and is a very touching story. It was so touching that we decided to run this story in our newsletter for all to see.
For those who would remember, White Eagle sang in Philadelphia at the church. Simply titled: "White Eagle: How Sweet the Sound," the documentary depicts this heartwarming story through the many facets of his life. White Eagle returned to his family home in Mission, South Dakota, in the winter of 1994 when he developed AIDS-related dementia.
He died in July, 1995 at the young age of 43. He became a hero to his people, a legend if you will, to those who dared to dream that they, too, might one day rise and fulfill their dreams. White Eagle said, "An event is only an event. It is neither good nor bad. It's how you respond to that event that matters."
If I were able to, and tried to write every story that was given to us for our Lanza Legend, as to how and why people started singing, I would need a staff of 50 writers to help. I chose to write this brief story because it is very heartwarming and expresses his love on first hearing Mario's voice. I am willing to wager that there are many, many men out there that felt that very same way when they, too, heard Mario for the first time...I being one. The difference between White Eagle and me is he did something about it! I wish I could define Mario's voice - I wish I were able to just write what this voice did to so many millions of people. I wish, I wish, and I wish.
In addition to a very successful premiere showing and broadcast on the S.D. network, "White Eagle: How Sweet the Sound" has been picked up for distribution by both the Native American Public Telecommunications Association of Lincoln, Nebraska and the Central Educational Network (an association of Midwestern public television stations) and is being made available to all interested Public television stations NATIONWIDE. It is also being considered for a number of video festivals and awards competitions.
Along with this honor, goes our Mario right into the schools, churches, classrooms, and, via television, homes. Again, I wish to let it be known had we just ignored a simple request for a picture, a question answered, or had we been too busy to respond, this would never have been - and this is why we here at the Lanza Legend answer any and all requests.
White Eagle Moore was born the son of a traveling evangelist, his roots set in one of the nation's poorest and most isolated regions. However meager their financial circumstances, the Moore family was strong in faith and in the traditional Lakota cultural and spiritual values. It was from this foundation that White Eagle grew to overcome significant personal and professional obstacles to become a respected figure in the world of opera and a role model for Native American youth.
White Eagle performed more than 4,000 concerts and was heard by over five million people in both America and Canada. His credits speak well of him including such special performances as: January 1989 - sang the finale at the Inaugural Gala for President George Bush, accompanied by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir; July, 1991- again sang for President George Bush and others gathered at the golden anniversary of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
It is important to tell this story of White Eagle because his story is unique in the history of Native Americans. Yes, White Eagle died at an early age, but his spirit is still alive in all the classrooms, in all the churches, and in all the homes of his native land. He died of AIDS but it did not kill his spirit.
White Eagle dealt with AIDS in a traditional way - he battled it by practicing the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in relationship to the disease.
In the closing of his life, he would say to those who needed words of wisdom: "Existence is a circle. Death sweeps the person back from where he came. Death is not an end."
- Bob Dolfi