top answer: 1. What are some of the traditions that are still practiced by some North American Indian tribes to


1. What are some of the traditions that are still practiced by some North American Indian tribes today and why is it important to keep them alive?

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2. In what ways is Native American music traditional and contemporary? How can the concept of non:wa be applied?

3. What is something you learned from this travel tour that you never knew before? Are there any stereotypes or misconceptions that came up? Have they been dispelled?

Where are we going?

In this chapter, we will visit several Native Nations and communities on Turtle Island (North America). These sovereign nations each have their own culture, so our visits will be as if we are traveling through international borders across the continent. As in all of our cultural visits, we can only visit a few areas in the United States and are unable to visit the Indigenous people of South and Central America. Since many people are unaware that the First Nations people of Turtle Island are living cultures, I will concentrate largely on Native contemporary music. The importance of keeping culture alive and bringing back culture means that both traditional and contemporary arts are practiced and we will look at what that means in several communities.


On the globe search link below, first seek the general area of the Powhatan Confederacy by putting “Chincoteague (Virginia)” in the search bar and zoom in to find the general area. On this part of the globe, can you find some of the many towns that have Native American names, as well as some English names given by the first colonial settlers in the Americas? Next, look up “Carnegie, Oklahoma” for the location of part of the Kiowa Nation. The Mohawk Nation lives on reserves across Canada, reclaimed land in New York and in off-reserve communities. To find them search in Canada for “Oshweken” where the Six Nations Reserve along the Grand River is located; search “St. Regis” to find Akwesasne, “Tyendinaga” Mohawk Territory, and “Kahnawake” (zoom out to see how close it is to Montreal). The places you looked for on the 3D map are where people from these culture groups live today. Most of them were displaced and forcefully relocated from other areas across Turtle Island. We will also visit several contemporary Indigenous artists from other Nations including Alaska Native Pamyua, Muscogee, Mohican, and Navajo.




Copyright © 2020 by Tribal Nations Maps. Reprinted by permission.



Background Information

Today, there are approximately 574 federally recognized Indian Nations in the United States. As compared to 1492, when there were approximately 60 million Natives, there are now approximately 5 million. Indigenous groups and people in North America may be referred to as tribes, nations, Native Americans, North American Indians, Indians, First Nations, Bands, Pueblos, Alaska and Hawaiian Natives, communities and native villages. Indigenous peoples around the world share a history of decolonization and re-acculturation that may create a sense of unity, but each nation is individual in its language, dress, governing system, food, arts, worldview and all aspects of its culture. There are some commonalities, such as connection to the land, spirituality connected to all of creation, commitment to future generations and in many cases a system of clans that are determined by family lineage in which each clan has their own roles and responsibilities. As noted in our global and map search, there is an Indigenous “international” community that shares values of indigeneity in which most communities are fighting to retain and regain their cultures and lands. Many have been successful as they thrive with both tradition and innovation.



Leaving Baggage Behind

© Dawn Avery


There are many misconceptions about Native American peoples. The first is that Indians are in the past and are no longer a living people. The second is what we mentioned early on in the text, that Indigenous people are still often viewed as lower than, or to use an original term by colonial settlers, “savages,” while others believe the opposite, seeing Indians as exotic and magically spiritual. These views do not portray the vast cultures and individuality of Native people across Turtle Island and around the world.


“6 Misconceptions About Native American People”


You may have heard about the controversies around sports mascots, especially the United States national football team. If you’re interested, look up the definition of what the national football team was called. The fight to change the name went on for many years and it is gratifying that it has finally been in the process of being changed in 2020. The following video contains some brief ideas by Indians who share about why sports mascots are offensive:


“Native Americans Review “Indian” Sports Mascots”


© Prachaya Roekdeethaweesab/


Native Americans are educators, lawyers, artists, doctors, athletes, military officers and award-winning leaders. They have always been innovators and inventors. Did you know that the Iroquois invented the lacrosse game and the first baby bottle? The Inuit invented the kayak. Each tribe created their own medicines, tools, hunting equipment and fashion. There have been 4 Native Americans in congress, including two women Deb Haaland of the Pueblo of Laguna in New Mexico and Sharice Davids of the Ho-Chunk Nation.


© Romie Miller/


© Sandeep.Mishra/



Tour the Sites

© Kendall Hunt Publishing Company



Land Acknowledgement

Indigenous protocol and awareness calls for the acknowledgement of land from the place on which you are standing. In other words, I am now writing in what is currently Virginia, originally called Tsenacommacan, home of the Powhatan Confederacy and Piscataway Chiefdom. There are many nations who are part of the larger confederacy and chiefdom that lived and live in this DMV (Washington, D.C./ Maryland/ Virginia) area. As part of a movement to decolonize and acknowledge the original peoples upon whose land I am standing, I would be remiss if I did not start by honoring this ancestral land, recognizing and respecting the relationship that exists between these tribes and their stolen territories, and acknowledging the elders of whom genocide and forced removal took them and whose ancestral lands remain.


I will proceed with a land acknowledgment to the Powhatan Confederacy who lived in Tsenacommacan (Virginia) for over 12,000 years and was originally comprised of over 30 tribes. Most of the Powhatan tribes were pushed off their lands and assimilated. Today there are eight Powhatan Indian-descended tribes recognized by the State of Virginia from which there are about 3400 living tribal members. The Piscataway Chiefdom Nation inhabits traditional homelands in Washington, D.C. and Maryland which was home to about forty tribes. Its people still live throughout Maryland. Both Nations speak English today as their original language has largely been lost. However, many efforts are currently being made to reconstruct them and members are dedicated to the preservation of their cultures. Now for a little music!


Land acknowledgment:


I acknowledge that the DMV was an historic center of trade and cultural exchange between several tribal nations. For generations, the Piscataway and Powhatan Peoples have resided in this region and served as stewards of the local land and waterways. Those who remain continue to thrive in the region and still honor and celebrate their culture and relationship with the land.


Learn a little more about the Powhatan and scroll through for live music!


“The Powhatan People: Confederacy & Culture – Pocahantas’ People”


Different from an acknowledgement, listen to how the Piscataway deliver a welcome and music to visitors on their original homelands at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.


“Indigenous Peoples March – Welcome by the Piscataway People to their Lands”


© Bill Perry/


DESTINATION 1: Intertribal Pow Wows

Pow Wows are Native American social events where many tribes get together to dance, sing, eat and sell their artistry and goods. Travelling from all over the country, often on what is called the Pow Wow circuit, dancers and singers compete in contests that are open to the public. The history of the pow wow has many possible origins from War dance societies of the Southern Plains Indians, and in or as a response to the banning of Indian culture by the government who only allowed tribes to get together for public and tourist events. Pow Wows range from enormous events such as the Gathering of Nations, to small college festivities, as well as private ceremonial Pow Wows. It is generally believed that the word Pow Wow is from the Algonquian Indian language, several possible meanings, including the gathering of native people, a curing ritual and an Indian medicine man. They are relatively new by Indian standards, beginning in the 1800’s. A Pow Wow day begins with songs to accompany the grand entry of tribal leaders, organizers, veterans, elders, dancers, singers and other participants who parade into a large arena. Next, everyone is asked to stand as flag carriers enter with the U.S. Flag, Tribal Flags, the POW Flag and Eagle Staffs for each of the Nations that are present. All veterans non-native and native are honored with a special flag song and dance. Prayers are said, acknowledgements given and the Master of Ceremonies is introduced. Throughout the day, he announces and explains the dances and songs and introduces the various, talented groups that come to participate. Around the arena are food stands, jewelry vendors, Indian medicines, clothing and lots of great Indian made items for purchase. People see old friends, socialize, dance, watch and listen.



Pow Wow Music

The drum group, called the drum, is central to the music and typically consists of several men around a large 2-3 feet wide hand-made from stretched buckskin that is lightly tanned. The men sing while striking strong beats with mallets made of wood and leather. The drum is treated with great respect and has its own set of rules. For example, in some areas, it can never be left alone and must be wrapped in a ritual manner when traveling. It may be blessed with tobacco and treated with bear fat grease. The men often use the most powerful part of their voice, called falsetto (highest range) to sing strongly, like warriors, while the women may stand behind the drummers singing the chorus or harmonies as they dance with gentle foot stomps.


The song structure consists of four pushups (chorus and verse sung four times). In each chorus the melody is treated as a call and response, in which a lead singer introduces it and another singer then joins in with slight variations before the end of the leader’s first line. They are then joined by all the singers for the rest of the pushup. Three hard beats mark the end of the chorus and beginning of the verse. The dancers will follow the music by changing their movement with different sections. An increase in tempo and volume on the last five beats marks the end of the final verse. The dancing stops on the final beat and dancers are disqualified if they do not stop exactly with that beat! Sometimes, the drum group adds a short chorus to finish the song. There are many Pow Wow dance styles, each with their own songs: straight, fancy, shawl, jingle, cloth, buckskin, gourd, traditional dances and partner dances. Everyone can join in for an Intertribal dance!


“2017 Gathering of Nations PowWow – Drums intro”


“Pow-wow dancing, styles and cultures”


DESTINATION 2: Kiowa Gourd Dance, Oklahoma

© Moab Republic/




Nearly 300,000 Native Americans and 39 federally recognized tribes live in the state of Oklahoma, more than any other area in the United States. There are many Native cultural performances, centers, communities and art. The annual Red Earth Native American Cultural Festival attracts visitors from around the world. With dance, storytelling and other cultural events, the Red Earth art market and competition offers art from talented and award-winning Native Artists. Oklahoma Indians survived many setbacks and encroachments by white settlers persevering through a “collective identity,” keeping traditions and communities alive. Each summer and winter between 1832 -1939, Kiowa artists would create a drawing that recorded the events of the previous six months. Originally sketched on animal skins and later on ledger paper, these works of art hold important historical and artistic information. Songs and dances orally transmitted from generation to generation also hold important historical and spiritual information.




The gourd dance is a traditional dance of the Tdiepeigah (Tai-pe-go), one of the many Kiowa warrior societies, that was formed in 1850. This name generally translates to “red berry” and refers to a battle fought with the Comanches in a field filled with red berries. Another variation of the word Tdiepeigah is “Tia Piah” meaning “ready to go, ready to die.” Today, the Tia Piah society of the Kiowa tribe dances at pow wows throughout Oklahoma. During Kiowa pow wows, the drummers are usually seated in the center of the arena, with members of the Gourd Clan forming a circle to sit around them. They join in by singing during the chorus and shaking their rattles. Dancers dance in an outer circle. Since the focus of the dance is on the message that the drummers are singing, there is very little movement in traditional gourd dancing. Although the dance can mean different things to different people, many see it as an important aspect of generational continuity as family lineages sustain their clan. New songs are written for special occasions, usually to honor a current warrior (veteran) who is a member of a gourd society.




Gourd drumming takes place at Native American pow wows and is sacred to the Kiowa because it contains ceremonial song and dance. By the 1930’s, the U.S. government banned the ceremonies and dances of many tribal groups. Kiowa elders who had remembered the old songs and traditions came together to reorganize the Gourd society and in 1957, the gourd dance was revived. Today, the Gourd Clan whose 300 members keep it alive, includes N. Scott Momaday, a Pulitzer prize author, as well as doctors, lawyers and civil servants.


When the drummers play gourd songs, they will often strike the drum strongly, creating a steady beat, with abrupt changes in tempo. During gourd dances, the dancers may hold a gourd rattle with one hand and a fan of eagle feathers in the other. Traditionally, the rattle is a small gourd filled with beans or seeds that has a wooden rod going through it. Many rattles are now made of metal. Due to its sacred nature, the rattle is often handcrafted with beadwork and horsehair. The drum for this dance is the same as the pow wow drum. 




The dancers proudly shake their gourd rattles and stomp their heels on the ground in time with the drumbeats. The Gourd Dance consists of alternate bobbing up and down as they move toward the center of the dance arena in time with the drum. Towards the middle of the song, two loud drumbeats are struck, immediately followed by softer drumbeats during which time the dancers take a few steps inward without shaking their rattles. Each song is sung four times and ends with rapid drumbeats after which they howl, emulating the red wolf who is believed to have given them the dance. As you will notice in the following video, when the men howl, they raise their shakers high in the air to complete the song. The dancers then remain in place or walk back to their seats to begin dancing the next song.


This video below features the Cozad singers, a Kiowa Gourd drumming group from Anadarko, Oklahoma. Formed by Leonard Cozad, Sr. in the 1930’s, the group consists of his sons, grandsons and several other family members. They performed on the 2001 GRAMMY winning album Gathering of Nations Pow Wow and won Best Historical Recording in the 2005 Native American Music Awards. The group performed at the inaugural National Museum for the American Indian Pow Wow in 2002. Listen to the form of the song, how the different timbres contribute to the passion of their message and watch the participants who are seated around the drum group, as well as those dancing around them.


“Gourd Dance Cozad 1 Classic Best 2010 Red Earth”


DESTINATION 3: Haudenosaunee Smoke Dance

© Reimar/



Introducing My Mohawk Heritage

She:kon, Ierihó:kwats kiken Onkwehón:we – Longhouse. (Hello, my Longhouse, Indian name is Ierihó:kwats. The name means she digs deep into her roots to learn). I am of Kanienké:ha Mohawk descent and wear the turtle clan around my neck. I have Mohawk blood from my father’s side and have lost the matriarchal lineage. I want to emphasize that I do not represent the Mohawk culture, nor any culture group that we have visited. My goal has been to be of service as I introduce a wide array of cultures and their soundscapes. Nia:wen Kowa (Thank you very much) to those who have taught me and from whom I continue to learn.




The Haudenosaunee Confederacy consists of six nations: the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora. Haudenosaunee means People of the Longhouse that was the traditional housing structure. They are now are used to hold ceremonies and community events. The governing council of clan mothers and a Great Council of peace chiefs, along with the people, still hold confederacy and town meetings in longhouses. The confederacy is united by the Great Law of Peace (Kaianere’ko:wa), which is considered both a political constitution and a code for Haudenosaunee society. With their expertise in living the Great Law of Peace, the Haudenosaunee were important advisers to the founding fathers in the creation of the United States constitution and a true democracy. In Haudenosaunee matriarchal society, the women are responsible for voting in the chiefs and other important people and issues. Due to their experience with voting, the Seneca women helped form the suffrage movement for colonial women to gain voting rights in the United States.


© Everett Collection/




Social dances of the Haudenosaunee are songs with dances that are usually enjoyed outside the Longhouse, although they may also be part of ceremonial events. A social dance may be planned for a Friday night in the longhouse, a pow wow or a cultural event. The Smoke Dance is a relatively contemporary social dance that started in the 1980’s or 90’s and has since become part of pow wow competitions. There are several possible origins as to why the dance was created: to clear the smoke from the Longhouse, the influence of fast, non-Native dances, or as a modern version of traditional War Dances that could be used for entertainment.


The dances are usually accompanied by a water drum and either a solo singer or a group of singers. There are approximately 20 songs, both slow and fast and new songs are always being created. The slow songs are associated with the War Dances and are only danced by men and the fast songs, danced by both men and women, may be based on many types of traditional songs including fish and rabbit songs. Dancers show off quick steps and body movements to go with the quick beat of the drum. They match the drum when it creates a brief pause in the music and add their own flair and versatility to catch the audience’s interest. In order to catch their breath, dancers are never asked to do more than four dances.


The men wear traditional Haudenosaunee outfits with leather moccasins, leggings, ribbon shirts and traditional headdresses (Gustowah) that are made of porcupine quills and feathers. These denote which nation they represent. Women wear cotton dresses with ribbons, a skirt with matching leggings and a tiara-like headdress. The dance exemplifies how traditional elements have been brought into a new type of dance.


In the following video selections, note the melodic phrasing, steady beat on the drum and the impressively fast foot work of the dancers. The first video was taken at an Indian Festival, while the second was part of a competition at the Six Nations Pow Wow in Ontario.


“Men’s Smoke Dance Solos”


“Women’s Smoke Dance @ Six Nations Pow Wow 2008”


DESTINATION 4: Native Classical

I have had the honor and the pleasure of working with many North American Indian contemporary classical composers. This led me to research how Indigenous concepts of traditional and modern can be applied to the work of Native Americans who are composing solo, chamber and orchestral works. Thanks to funding from the First Nations Composers Initiative supported by the Ford Foundation’s Indigenous Knowledge, Expressive Culture grant program of the American Composers Forum, I was able to commission and perform original works by Native American composers and develop the North American Indian Cello Project. These works became the foundation of my PhD dissertation where I employed a Kanienké:ha (Mohawk) concept of now that includes the now of the past, the now of the present and the now of the future. The word now, Non:wa, was used as a metaphorical concept to show how traditional and contemporary are not binary opposites, but rather inform each other, overlap with each other and also exist in the present. As I gathered research and wrote, I employed Indigenous modalities and treated every aspect of my dissertation as ceremony. For example, I recited the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address and burned tobacco every morning before I wrote, consulted with elders, used Native language, metaphor, soundscapes and symbolism in presenting my research and employed Indigenous theory, interviews and worldviews.


New compositions were commissioned from Navajo Dine, Navajo Ute, Kichespirini, Echo Tsalagi, Quapaw, Luiseño/Maidu, Choctaw and Mohican composers. Each composition is individually unique and is scored for solo cello, or cello with rattles and voice. All of them ask for extended cello techniques developed primarily in the 20th century. Some are excitingly avant-garde, while others are rich with western harmony.


© Brent Michael Davids



Brent Michael Davids, composer

Brent Michael Davids (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of the Mohican Nation) is one of the most celebrated Native American Composers today. He has written numerous works for orchestra, chorus, concert band, chamber ensembles, dance and film. Davids is an American Indian music specialist, educator and consultant. He co-founded the Native American Composer Apprentice Project, developed to nurture future generations of Native composers. As a performer of Indigenous instruments and styles, he also designed new instruments, including crystal flutes. Davids holds two music composition degrees (Northern Illinois University/ University of Arizona) and trained at the Sundance Institute. He has won many awards including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, Joffrey Ballet, Park City Film Music Festival, Emmy Award, National Symphony Orchestra and the Bush Foundation.



“Cello Chili” Brent Michael Davids (Stockbridge Mohican)

“Davids’ “Cello Chili” is written for cello and voice to be performed almost simultaneously by the same person. What makes this piece especially interesting and amusing is the fact that the lyrics are taken from a fictitious recipe that dictated the rhythms he wrote. He then cut and paste the rhythms to create a shifting emphases of juxtaposed rhythms. Based on language, the text is not only about a “distinctly American stew made of green chiles and pieces of cello,” but employs “two quotes from famed Cherokee humorist Will Rogers” who referred to chili as a “bowl of blessedness” and “advised that one should “always drink upstream from the herd”” (Davids, Cello Chili Score). The piece was commissioned, recorded and performed as part of the North American Indian Cello Project.


“Cello Chili (North American Indian Cello Project – Dawn Avery)”




Brent, you have had such an important influence on me as well as composers from around the world. We are delighted that you had a little bit of time to talk to us during the concert intermission. I just have a few questions.


Can you share how you got into music?


I credit my mother for getting me interested. She was musical, from her parents and grandparents, and she wanted to inspire me to try it out. She got me into piano lessons at age 8, and I did that a few years but gave it up for trombone in grade school. Although I didn’t keep interest in piano, that experience did teach me “the notes,” and my literacy in written music is a major centerpiece of my career now. I started composing in my junior year of high school and have been composing ever since. Music literacy is a gift my mother gave me and one I treasure!


What makes your music traditional and contemporary?


That’s a tricky question to answer simply. There’s no word for “music” in most Native languages because the concept within indigenous life is more expansive than a western definition. Music-ing is how Native American regard the philosophy, form, function, history and practice of bringing life in that way: song-ing. It’s always a verb. If I create something akin to the indigenous process, I’d consider that process ‘traditional,’ rather than simply applying bits of known melodies to a contemporary work, or by harmonizing a familiar indigenous song in a new way. The process is more important to me than the outcome, in order words. Using indigenous cultural relevance as an ‘artistic standard’ is far better than any western music theory for determining genuine value of the process. Music is a static leftover. Song-ing is bringing life.


What messages are important for you to express through your music?


I believe we must champion a respectful cultural process as an artistic standard, and in doing so achieve crucial cross-cultural understandings and intercultural relations with each other. With an artistic standard of cultural respect comes a deeper historical context for approaching the quality of music. We must engage in genuine relationships that do not diminish or erase cultural realities in favor of some aesthetic of cultural neutrality. Where are the relationships in our process? What communities are involved? What lives beyond the Western musical hegemony? I am determined to answer these and other questions in my artistic process. As a matter of cultural principle, whenever possible, my works include cooperation between indigenous and non-indigenous performers. I strongly believe that when we collaborate and experiment in song, we are discovering life benefits, not simply musical ones. Our interactions as composers, performers, audiences, students and teachers—Indian and non-Indian alike—constitute important relational skills. If we can excite creativity and cooperation in each other, we have accomplished a magnificent thing!


Why is music important to you?


Music-ing, song-ing, is encouraging and creating life and vital to me. If I could not do music for some reason, I would choose to do something very much like it, an artist of some type, perhaps in the visual arts, who knows. All the arts share something in common, giving voice. Music is my best voice, but if I lost that I’d find another. We enact life, nurture it, create it and it creates and nurtures us too. It’s a mutual process of give and take, barter and exchange and it requires participation.


Any new projects coming up or final words for us?


Yes, I’m working on a long-term project “Requiem For America”. A 90-minute interactive, interdisciplinary performance work, “Requiem for America” places indigenous voices front and center, embodied by the creative team, the on-stage performers and the mission of outreach and community-building that is central to each performance. I am hopeful “Requiem” will create a powerful concert experience blending Native American music, opera soloists, choral and orchestral music, choreography and video production. What makes the project unique is the recruitment of Native American singers, from local tribes and individuals, to perform center stage. Indigenous singers embody the interaction between native and non-native musicians and communities that is at the heart of this project.


Subtitled “Singing for the Invisible People,” the subject matter of Requiem for America is nothing less than the genocidal founding of the United States. As demonstrated by persistent, dehumanizing stereotypes and continuing arguments over cultural appropriation, America’s assault on Native American cultures continues to this day. Requiem aims to shine a light on historic injustices and, at the same time, to model and create solutions in the present by building collaborative relationships with indigenous artists in all 50 states.


Well, thank you so much Brent. Good luck with your project. It’s just beautiful.


“Powwow Symphony Promo”

This piece is introduced by Brent Michael Davids himself!

Written for Western orchestra, Pow Wow sounds, dancers and storytellers!


DESTINATION 5: Native Musical Theatre

Native American staged theatre productions, many with music, have been around since the 1800’s, for entertainment and education. The Cherokee drama about the Trail of Tears, “Unto These Hills”, started in the 1950’s and is the longest running show in the United States. Spiderwoman Theatre, dedicated to productions, education and training in New York City, is the longest running theatre group of Indigenous women, founded by three Kuna/Rappahannock sisters in 1976. Ajijaak on Turtle Island, produced by Heather Henson of the Jim Henson puppet legacy, was written and directed by Ty Defoe (Oneida/Ojibwe), with music by Dawn Avery (Mohawk descent) and Larry Mitchell, and original drum music by Kevin Tarrant (Hopi/Ho-Chunk), has a mostly Indigenous cast of singers, dancers, actors and puppeteers. Multi-media designer, Kate Freer created video animation that was projected onto enormous screens in the shape of drum-heads. Her video design for the “Ajijaak Theme” is below, with lyrics by Ty Defoe and Dawn Avery, music and vocals by Dawn Avery, produced by Larry Mitchell. Note the story that she tells with her stunning animation.


“Ajijaak Theme”


DESTINATION 6: Native Reggae

Joy Harjo (Muscogee/Cree) is not only a three times United States Poet Laureate, but an award-winning musician. Listen carefully to the traditional sounds in the opening, the reggae backbeat of her band Poetic Justice, jazz saxophone solos and the powerful words referring to Indian and Settler history.


A Postcolonial Tale


DESTINATION 7: Native Hip-Hop

War Party is Cree band from Alberta, Canada that combines rap rhythms with Indigenous themes and stories.


“War Party – Feelin’ Reserved” Listen to all of the message!


DESTINATION 8: Tribal Funk/ Native Soul

The Inuit Band Pamyua (Inuit, Alaska Native) reinterprets traditional melodies and adds contemporary vocalization and instrumentation. Their multi-media performances are theatrical musical events with dance, masks, stories, Inuit and western instrumentation.


Learn more about the band in the first video from their website.




DESTINATION 9: A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red (ATCR) is a collective with aboriginal producers and DJs (Cayuga/ Ojibwe/ Mohawk/ Nipissing First Nation) who blend First Nations chants and drum with electronic hip hop, dubstep and edgy electronic music production. The group’s name is in honor of the hip-hop band, A Tribe Called Quest, whose songs were about African American social issues. Today, the duo, 2oolman and Bear Witness, tour with sold out performances around the world. ATCR is dedicated to promoting a message of inclusivity and decolonization. They have received countless awards, including those from Juno, Canadian Independent Music Awards, iHeartRadio Much Music Video Awards, and several Juno awards (Canada’s GRAMMIES).


Their message is particularly important:


“As Indigenous people, we need to define our identity on our own terms. While we promote inclusivity, empathy and acceptance amongst all races and genders, we are defining our own Indigenous identity by promoting social justice and supporting those fighting for decolonization and humanity.”


“A Tribe Called Red Ft. Black Bear – Stadium Pow Wow (Official Video)”



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