I have been horribly lax with MAAM’s lately. Working and taking care of five little hooligans doesn’t leave much time for music or art appreciation. But Spotify reminded me that it’s Native American Heritage Month.
I was excited to see these playlists, as I got used to listening to KIYE while in Idaho this summer. This is probably the only station in the world to play pow-wow music, Marty Robbin’s “El Paso“, and an entire album of T-Pain, all in the same hour.
Sadly, when I clicked on the main playlist I was greeted with new aged flute music. While I understand this is certainly a genre produced by many Natives, it certainly didn’t satisfy my desire to hear the good stuff from KIYE. Some of the playlists were slightly better, but here is my version of a Native American Spotify Playlist:
Fawn Wood and Dallas Waskahat: One More Chance
This has some of that new agey flute in it, but I don’t care, I love the harmony.
Robbie Romero & Red Thunder: Ya Na Neh Yo
This is a bit of a rock song, in fact the whole album is pretty good.
Alex E Smith: Just For Old Time’s Sake
This is somewhat more “traditional” and what most people think of as Native music. Great harmonies.
Edmund Bull: Follow Your Dreams
Edmund Bull does a great blend of western country and chant that makes for a smooth and easy listen if you’re not used to some of the drums and dance circle music.
Northern Cree: She Was Gone
Pretty much anything by them. My favorite thing about them is their ability to place totally modern situations into round dance chants, like in “Facebook Drama”.
My eastern very white upbringing comes out on this one, I actually chuckled a little at the juxtaposition. Growing up on the politically correct East coast, we were taught to be anti-stereotypes to the point of being anti-culture. It was a jarring experience to come out West and see roadside stands selling beads and artworks and run by actual Natives, and even more jarring to hear them actually singing similarly to the “stereotypes” I had been taught to shun in school. Wasn’t this exploitive? Not that this describes all Natives, but the simple fact is that it is deeply intertwined into the culture.
On my very first trip to Northern Idaho in 2013 I actually had a crew boss tell us to turn off KIYE because he thought it might be considered “offensive” by some of the Native firefighter crews. Having worked with several Natives I can assure that crew boss that no, they are not offended.
If you are not stupid (i.e. disrespectful) about it, appreciating a culture for what it puts out on the public airwaves is not offensive at all. As long as you understand that there are in fact differences between tribes of different regions (for instance, teepees were a plains thing, not a SW thing) and don’t make stupid assumptions based on TV or movies you’re not generally going to make anyone mad.
Enough of that political sidetrack. Back to music. There is actually a pretty decent Playlist here of just powwow music. Look around Spotify or just tune in to KIYE or other similar stations online for some more great Native music.