Tag Archives: appropriation

Indigenous Hip-Hop: Michael Cebuliak

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.

Beat Nation


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.

Research 5 links Exploring Arts, Culture, Indigeneity and Technology

The more I research into art, technology and indigeneity, the more intrigued I am with the topic. There are many layers to the topic and it is constantly evolving as culture is not static and there is not one set definition of what culture is. In addition, technology continues to evolve so more layers become added including commodification and differing world views on this.


In the journal article, “Aboriginal theater: does ’sold out’ mean ’selling out’? “ The author discusses the disparity between Western Civilizations’ view of theater and the aboriginal point of view which encompasses a reflecting of spiritual truth as they see it. He highlights the complexities of ancient, traditional Aboriginal art forms and finds that the performing arts have been portrayed as primitive ritual lacking in the sophistication and complexity of contemporary western civilization. He speaks to the ethnocentric and naïve view that western thought purports and proposes that these art forms may be  difficult to interpret using western mode of thought.



In the journal article “From Colonialism to Multiculturalism? Totem Poles, Tourism and National identity in Vancouver’s Stanley Park”, the author reflects about the symbol of the totem pole and questions whose culture is represented, displayed and consumed. She questions whether or not they adequately capture the complicated and diverse histories and experiences of first nations people in the province of BC. She also discusses the use of totem poles as a statement of Canadian heritage and questions the Canadian Government’s use of them for their economic and cultural value. She writes further that the displays run the risk of minimizing the histories and legacies of aboriginal people within our nation.


In the article, “Authentic Inuit Art: Creation and Exclusion in the Canadian North”, the author discusses how Modern Inuit commercial arts grew out of the desires of multiple non-Inuit agencies and persons. He also discusses how these outside influences worked to create new art forms which were means of carrying out the will of these competing persons in a complex competition to control social and cultural relationships. These were appropriated by the Inuit and this new art gave them new strength to establish new economic, social and political institutions.  In all, the article examines the historical support and shaping of Canadian Inuit art in the 20th century,  and the consequences of outside influences.


In In the article, “Indigenous culture: both malleable and valuable”,  the author speaks to Ideological  tensions that arise with the effort to balance the preservation of cultural integrity with the selling of marketable wares.  She proposes further interdisciplinary research to develop an understanding that supports the long‐term sustainability of indigenous communities. She finds that existing discourse is currently dominated by non‐indigenous voices and Western tourism motivations, which need amelioration to better support the community‐based approach.


In the article, “The Artifice of Culture, Contemporary Indigenous Art and the Work of Peter Robinson”, the author discusses the huge effect   computing, Internet, and televisual technologies have had on the conditions of the production, reproduction, circulation, and consumption of cultural imagery. These technologies are fueling an economy and the commodification of art as culture.  Indigenous and non‐Indigenous perspectives on commodification are likely to provide different views. The article examines  the representation of contemporary,  ‘non‐traditional’ Indigenous art and the definition of cultural property and identity.



Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage: Theory, Practice, Policy, Ethics


“The Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project is a seven-year international research initiative based at Simon Fraser University. Our work explores the rights, values, and responsibilities of material culture, cultural knowledge and the practice of heritage research.” I find the blog, “Appropriation (?) of the month”, particularly interesting. There are also some excellent teaching resources that I will be fully investigating.




The author of this website, âpihtawikosisân, is Métis from the Plains Cree speaking community of Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta. The site contains posts explaining how cultural appropriation affects indigenous peoples, such as An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses. The online learning resources http://apihtawikosisan.com/aboriginal-issue-primers/legal-links/  also look promising.

Cultural collaboration or appropriation? How does Christi do it with Valentino Fashion House (Module 4-Post 4)


I was interested in find out how First Nation/Art could be used without cultural appropriation after so many incidents in the fashion world and beyond. Christi Belcourt, before her collaboration with the fashion house Valentino, took her time to think about and find out if this would be culturally appropriate. In my earlier weblogs, I investigated cultural appropriation in the context of arts/fashion and beyond.