Native music often brings to mind traditional instruments, existing in the realms of nostalgic new agers. It is part of the legacy that forces the concept of first nations people into the past, and preventng their electric, hip hop, and rock music from entering the mainstream. These musicians most certainly are known to their communities and others beyond, for they are a part of contemporary American culture, but you wouldn’t expect to hear them on an average radio station.
Indigenous music is sorely underrated; their artistic value is worthy in its own right. I wanted to raise awareness by sharing the best native music videos that I knowby best I mean my personal favorites from United States and Canada. Please leave yours in the comments.
1. ‘Sisters’ by A Tribe Called Red ft Northern Voice
A Tribe Called Red is a Canadian electronic group that has reached international
acclaim. Their work incorporates powwow drums and vocals, updating these musical styles into a unique fusion of sound perfect for dancing. ‘Sisters’ feature the female singers of Northern Voice, bringing indigenous women to the forefront in song and images. The three girls starring in this music video showcase cultural pride in the display of their fashion and the Mohawk warrior flag. It is beautiful to see these young women dancing together and having fun.
2. ‘Geronimo’ by The Knocks and Fred Falke
The Knocks are an electronic duo whose collaboration with Fred Falke resulted in ‘Geronimo,’ a music video starring the gorgeous champion hoop dancer Nakotah Larance. It uses montage footage of his environment and world, slices of rez life. His desert performance in regalia left me breathless over the beauty of it all. The hoop dancing is an equal partner with the music. Its focus the Nakotah gives the spotlight only to indigenous representation, following Nelly Furtado’s ‘Big Hoops’ and her usage of talented hoop and shawl dancers as back up.
3. ‘My Stone’ by Frank Waln
Frank Waln is a Lakota rap and hip hop artist recently a part of MTV’s Rebel Music documentary series with Inez Jasper and Natanni Means. They are musical activists expressing the realities of being a native youth with their values and hardship, making commentaries on colonial injustice and environmental damage. ‘My Stone’ is a loving tribute to single indigenous mothers, emphasizing their strength and the fruits of their labors. It is a view of Frank’s community, of home on a reservation and in an urban setting. Cultural pride is a large part of his artistic choices, clearly seen and heard in other work like ‘AbOriginal’
4. ‘Downfall’ by Blackfire
Blackfire was actually the first band that got me into listening to indian music. This is a Navajo band of siblings mixing traditional sounds into punk rock/metal. Their sociopolitical messages on human rights and history are burningly fierce with righteous anger: ‘It Ain’t Over!’. ‘Downfall’ is one of their gentler works. Its poetic lyrics are joined with sweeping shots of the Grand Canyon’s natural beauty and performers in regalia to recall ancestral spirits that live on in our world.
5. ‘Prayer Loop Song’ by Supaman
Supaman is another hip hop artist, a genre that speaks to the struggles that reach from cities to reservation. His activism is a personal, sincere effort, having walked away from a record deal to stay true to himself. Quality rap is a medium to reach mass groups of youth, and Supaman uses it to weave compassionate Christian messages encouraging a positive future. ‘The Prayer’ is the basis for ‘Prayer Loop Song.’ The looping machine absorbs his drumming, flute playing,and beat boxing while Supaman scratches records, raps, and dances in full regalia.
6. Haida Raid 3: ‘Save Our Waters’ by Kinnie Starr ft Ja$e ElNino
The music video was sponsored by Haidawood, a group that seeks to preserve its culture by making stop motion animated movies in the Haida language. Haida Raid is a series of short films using traditional carvings toprotest detriment to the environment by the government. ‘Save Our Water’ is sung by Kinnie Starr, a Canadian aboriginal hip hop/alternative rock singer who has taken a hard political stance on this issue.