Since I have been teaching First Nation youth within the Chilcotin Cariboo school district, I have noted that these students often have an attraction to hip-hop culture and the dance, rap music, and visual aesthetic, found within.
Having researched the origins of hip-hop, it is evident that the impetus for this movement can be found within feelings of disenfranchisement and anger of African American youth living within urban ghettos with little or no hope for the future. This feeling I suspect is very much like that which can be found by contemporary First Nation youth on reserves and in cities. I would like to explore what Indigenous hip-hop artists are saying about the world they live in. I would like to explore the similarities between these two cultures and examine the way in which this movement shapes future generations of Indigenous peoples.
My suspicion is that the Indigenous hip hop movement has more impact on First Nation culture, and more accurately reflects the current state of it, than its academic counterpart. I am also interested in issues of cultural appropriation within the movement. Seemingly it is acceptable for members of visible minorities to appropriate the culture of other minorities, but unacceptable for anyone else. Much of the appropriation is evident in the way in which technology is used within the medium. Auto-tune, sampling, and scratching are just some of the technologies utilized in creating the music, but one wonders is there contempt inside the larger Indigenous community, for forgetting some of the traditional means of expression and removing oneself from the traditional way of life.
I certainly will need to narrow my focus but at this moment I am interested in exploring relationships and seeing as much as the context for the movement as possible.
Native Hip Hop
Native Hip Hop is a repository for contemporary Indigenous people’s hip hop music. It is a place to go to find out what has been on the scene for the last eight years. It features Indigenous peoples from all over the globe, so it provides insight into how Indigenous cultures, and their unique adaption of hip hop elements, differ throughout the world.
Dancing towards the light
Dancing toward the light is a CBC feature on Nunavut youth who ward off suicide, and emotional repression, by dancing. These efforts have been very successful in establishing the emotional well-being of the younger people and building community.
This site explores my questions as to how others within Indigenous communities see hip-hop as either breaking away from tradition or taking the next step within the evolution of Indigenous expression. The administrator of the site argues that hip-hop is not taking youth away from tradition, and supplanting them within pop-based mainstream assimilation, but helping them find new tools to discover First Nations culture. It is a comprehensive site acknowledging all Indigenous forays into hip-hop culture through dance, music, visual arts and film. Collieries are made between Indigenous youth exploration of hip-hop culture and Bill Reid’s migration from wood, silver and argillite and into newer forms of cultural media.
Indian Country Today: “8 Great Native Hip-Hop Artists”
Here it is posited that “hip-hop is a response to the struggles of cultural trauma” and the artists represented within have experienced this. However, despite their cultural differences these artists are starting to garner cross-cultural and commercial success. In pursuit of their new audience, one wonders if these artists have had to compromise their cultural differences or if their expanding audience has became more understanding and appreciative of the First Nation experience. Also, several female artists are featured and one begins to wonder how differences of gender are expressed within their works.
First Out Here: Indigenous Hip Hop in Canada
This documentary is unique in that it seemingly examines the political, rather than personal or cultural, role of Indigenous hip-hop in Canada. It explores issues of the missing and murdered aboriginal women, resource extraction, Indigenous sovereignty, and the national protest illustrated by Idle No More which brought Indigenous peoples together from disparate, First Nation communities and cultures. The documentary is very informative in it’s exploration of such matters, but the comments on the YouTube page deserve special attention as the Indigenous experience in Canada has always been significantly impacted by the Other; consequently, it is interesting to observe how public perception of Indigenous matters is both changing and not.