All About: Hidden Heritage

Hidden Heritage on The Cowboy Channel

Host of “Hidden Heritage,” Paul LaRoche, shares inspiring and uplifting stories that come from his personal journey into Native America. As founder of the award-winning contemporary Native American group, Brulé and AIRO (American Indian Rock Opera), Paul and his family have traveled across the heartland performing their unique blend of music for 12 years.

Show topics for “Hidden Heritage” are gathered from their own experiences as they reconnected with Paul’s blood family from the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and met indigenous people from all walks of life. The episodes cover a variety of themes - some with humor, some with important historical elements, and some with musical components - whether told from the simple setting of their backyard fire pit or the grandness of America’s majestic Mount Rushmore National Monument.


Meet Paul LaRoche, founder of the band Brulé. Paul was adopted at birth by a Caucasian couple and grew up in Worthington, Minnesota. He first learned to play the accordion, then switched to piano and organ. By high school, Paul played in a rock band that performed all around Minnesota and Iowa. He went on to perform in many more bands but dropped out in 1989 to work in engineering.

In 1993, after the death of both adoptive parents, Paul discovered his heritage as a member of the Lower Brulé Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. He, his wife, and two children chose to move from Minneapolis to the Lower Brulé Sioux Indian Reservation in central South Dakota to be with his biological family. Paul started composing and performing again, but with a new purpose.

“I am a product, I guess you would say, of two cultures, because of the way my life has gone,” LaRoche explains. “And rather than choose sides, I’ve tried to claim ownership of both. And really, it’s been my desire to want to bring those two worlds, or those two families, those two communities, a little closer together.”

Watch “Postcards: Brulé,” a 15-minute documentary about Paul LaRoche that aired before one of his concerts in Worthington:


Paul LaRoche grew up as part of a white middle-class family in the small community of Worthington in southwest Minnesota. He was adopted at birth, and his talent for music was evident at an early age. Paul knew about his adoption but his true heritage was sadly kept a secret from him for unknown reasons.

After both of his adoptive parents had died in the same year, it left Paul with more questions than answers and left him feeling a little lost some days. Thankfully Kathy, Paul’s wife, discovered his adoption papers and began a search for his family. After several years of hopeful searching, then grieving hope, and finally getting to the path of healing, a break in the search for his family came. In 1993 when Paul discovered his biological Lakota family his homecoming was a happy one and he was reunited with a brother (Shane), sister (Nicole), aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

The amount of love and support Paul received from his family and friends in his new life made his music career all the more monumental. Armed with the new knowledge of his heritage, Paul re-entered the world of music in the relatively new genre of contemporary/New Age Native American music. Mixing the traditional sounds of Native America with the music he grew up with—rock, pop, and jazz. Paul cut his first CD, “We The People,” and the band Brulé was born.


Brulé & AIRO is a contemporary Native American new-age/worldbeat music group based in South Dakota. They have sold over a million albums worldwide, won a number of awards, and have made media appearances on “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” on ABC, CNN WorldBeat, QVC, and others. They maintain a schedule of well over 100 performances a year including full stage productions with traditional dancers, an annual holiday tour, performances at Milwaukee’s Indian Summer Festival, Indian Art Markets in Denver, Arlington (Tx.), and Overland Park, Kansas, Harbor Fest in Virginia Beach, the world-renowned Ordway Theater in St. Paul, Foxwoods Casino, and many additional outdoor festivals and events. They have released 22 CDs over their 21-year existence.


First American’s in the Arts Awards:

  • Won: Best Outstanding Performance (1999) for One Nation

Native American Music Awards (NAMA/NAMMYS):

  • Nominated: Songwriter of the Year (2000) for Paul LaRoche & Robby Bee One Nation
  • Nominated: Duo or Group of the Year (2000) for Brulé One Nation
  • Nominated: Best Pop/Rock Recording (2000) for Brulé One Nation
  • Nominated: Flutist of the Year (2001) for Nicole Passion Spirit
  • Won: Group of the Year (2002) for Brulé Star People
  • Won: Best Instrumental CD (2002) for Brulé Star People
  • Nominated: Record of the Year (2002) for Brulé Star People
  • Nominated: Songwriter of the Year (2002) for Paul LaRoche Star People
  • Nominated: Best Female Artist (2003) for Nicole Night Tree
  • Won: Best Instrumental CD (2003) for Nicole Night Tree
  • Nominated: Best Producer (2003) for Paul LaRoche Night Tree
  • Nominated: Record of the Year (2003) for Nicole Night Tree
  • Nominated: Best Instrumental CD (2006) for Brulé The Collection
  • Won: Best Compilation CD (2006) for Brulé The Collection
  • Nominated: Song of the Year (2006) for Brulé Stomp Dance from The Collection
  • Nominated: Best Instrumental CD (2006) for AIRO Tatanka
  • Won: Duo or Group of the Year (2006) for AIRO Tatanka
  • Nominated: Artist of the Year (2007) for Paul LaRoche Kinship
  • Won: Duo or Group of the Year (2007) for Brulé & AIRO Silent Star Night
  • Nominated: Best Instrumental CD (2007) for Brulé & AIRO Silent Star Night
  • Won: Best New Age CD (2007) for Brulé Kinship
  • Nominated: Record of the Year (2007) for Brulé & AIRO Silent Star Night

Aboriginal People’s Choice Awards:

  • Nominated: Best Instrumental CD (2007) for Brulé & AIRO Silent Star Night
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