Press Play: A Tribe Called Red

By: Arielle Davis

The challenge with being an artist and an activist is facing the reality that you have to engage in dialogues with your audience that makes them uncomfortable.   Artists who want to share their culture  have to balance helping their audience understand the major difference between appreciation and appropriation. A Tribe Called Red rides this fine line very well.  A Tribe Called Red is a First Nations music group from Canada who makes electronic indigenous music.  If you weren’t sold on “electronic indigenous music”, then here are five reasons to press play on A Tribe Called Red:

    1. The three artists have awesome DJ names. A Tribe Called Red consists of: DJ NDN, 2oolman, and Bear Witness.  NDN is an attempt to decolonize the word Indian. It also stands for “Never Die Native” which is retaliation to the early colonial assertion “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” Bear Witness is prophetic because ATCR is a groundbreaking group who challenges social norms.
    2. They teach their fans about cultural appropriation. ATCR’s desire to incorporate culture in their music came with latent consequences.  Non-native fans desired to participate in sharing in Native culture so they adorned themselves in Native headdresses. ACTR addressed this from the stage and in interviews asking non-Native fans to stop appropriating Native culture.christina-fallin-headdress
    3. They challenge our definition of what it means to be Native. Bear Witness describes the long history of Native people who have grown up in urban settings meaning in the city. He says, “There has been a long history of indigenous people in urban settings. We’ve always been here. Right from when they were outpost. We’ve been invisible. We’ve been largely invisible because if you’re not wearing the beads, if you’re not wearing the feathers, if you’re not doing the things have been made okay for Native people to exist as, then you become invisible.”native-girl
    4. They collaborate with dope artists like Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def, and make awe-inspiring music that is unapologetically rooted in Native culture. Check out that video below:
    5. They are working to change the way indigenous people are represented. They say in an interview, “We’re trying to change the way we’re represented. We’re trying to change the way we’re  seen. We’re teachers, we’re lawyers, and we’re students. It’s about not the things that separate us. It’s about the things that connect us. It’s about the things we have in common, and those are the thing that are going to save us.”

Be sure to Press Play on A Tribe Called Red’s newest album: We Are The Halluci  Nation. You won’t be disappoint