For centuries, indigenous peoples across the world have dealt with genocide, corruption, the complete violation of their dignity, culture and land, and the destruction of their rights.

A new generation of indigenous artists is weaving an ocean of change, however. Through their music, writing and activism, their voices are breaking through the tar that has weighed their people down for so long.

A Tribe Called Red

The Canadian three DJ act has used its fame to take a stance against the appropriation of Native American culture.  The group has asked fans to quit wearing headdresses while attending their shows and advocated the use of the #ChangetheName, to promote changing the name of the Nepean Redskins, an Ontario-based football team, and the Washington Redskins. Their fearlessness has fueled their popularity — They have sold out shows from Ottawa, Canada to Brighton, England; their mix of electronic and traditional music has unleashed a power that cannot be reeled back.

So it is not surprising that the Juno-award winners and band members, Bear Witness, DJ Shub and Dee Jay NDN will take their originality and charisma to this year’s Coachella, as well as the Osheaga, a music and arts festival in Montreal, which will feature Kendrick Lamar, Chet Faker, Gary Clark, Jr. and other sublime artists.  Ian Campeau, also known as Dee Jay NDN, won the award Jer’s Vision, which honors leaders from “across Canada who have gone above and beyond in the fight against bullying and discrimination.”

Favorite tracks: “The Road,” “Native Puppy Love

Lido Pimienta

Que puedo decir? Pimienta is a whirlwind, chromatic, motley, a roaring earthquake of fireworks, a pack of wolves in one heart. And her music reflects exactly that.

The Colombian-born, black and Wayuu musician and visual artist, has created a hub of collaborations and music that reflect her concrete political views, such as immigration reform, racism, sexism and other pressing issues. Her debut LP Color, released in 2010, proved the wide range of Pimienta and her collabs further strengthen the ability of her talents.

Her music reflects components of her identity; she blends Afro-Colombian beats with Indigenous and traditional Latin music.

“I do not expect people to immediately get ‘what I am about’ nor do I stress about or have an interest in having people ‘like what I do’,” wrote Pimienta on her Tumblr on February 12 of last year. “I am simply happy, blessed, thrilled people listen.”

Her anticipated album, La Papessa (the High Priestess), hopefully will come out soon and when it does, a whole new universe of fire, ice and hurricanes will be added to her recurring throne.

Favorite tracks: “Humano,” “Reza por Mi

Scatter Their Own

The husband and wife “alter-Native rock” duo has returned from their second appearance at SXSW. There’s a photo on their Facebook of them hanging out with John Trudell and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

You know, casual.

Scotti and Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford, from Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., find inspiration in their native roots, using the bass guitar, guitar, drums and their lungs as another extension of storytelling. They use music as a way to transfer knowledge, love and strength to those who listen, especially their people.

“All of our songs, the lyrical content, is about our culture,” said Juliana during an interview with the Huffington Post back in 2013.

By playing at the Gathering of Nations in 2013, modeling for Honor the Treaties and making their song “Taste the Time,” which is about water pollution on their reservation due to uranium mining leakages.

Favorite tracks: “Earth & Sky” (acoustic version), “Taste the Time”

These artists, and others like them, prove no matter how much blood has been shed, how much darkness has polluted the hearts of many and the core of the land, the strong and those who are willing to build beauty out of misery, will prevail.

Vamos caminando / We’re still walking. 

headshotKarla Casique is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at

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