By Karla Casique
The three DJs–Bear Witness of the Cayuga First Nation, DJ Ian “DJ NDN” Campeau of the Nipissing First Nation and Tim “2oolman” Hill of the Six Nations of Grand River–brought their energy and talent, mixing in merengue, old school hip-hop songs and more with their tracks.
Bringing indigenous traditional music with modern sounds, ATCR has captured the hearts and attention of millions on almost every continent. They have taken their art from the stage of the JUNO Awards (the Canadian Grammys) to Europe, and now to the U.S. capital. In the nation’s current political climate, their music has become a form of protest to many indigenous peoples and allies.
It’s no coincidence that the group came to the nation’s capital during this time because, on March 10, almost 5,000 people gathered in D.C. for the “Native Nations Rise” march. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation and other indigenous leaders and allies demanded respect for indigenous lives and their communities.
The march ended with demonstrators setting up a tipi in front of the Trump Hotel, demanding the current administration to recognize their rights and see their power.
The venue was packed–sweaty, loud, filled with breakdancing and people dancing with each other, already pumped up before ATCR took the stage. Feeling the energy of hundreds of indigenous people and allies for an event that was solely to appreciate music and enjoy our existence was electric. It was an incredible experience going with members from the American Indian Student Union (AISU)–each of us representing a different side of Indigeneity, celebrating our resistance and triumphs.
The group kicked off the night with a variety of mixes, including West Coast hip-hop with “La Raza” by Kid Frost, as well as dubstep and trap. As a Latina indigenous woman, having native roots from my father’s side, hearing “La Raza” performed by an aboriginal group made me feel even more at home and validated. I had a space here, a purpose, as did my indigenous and multi-ethnic friends.
Started in 2007, ATCR has gone through many changes and triumphs. They brought forth a vision that challenges the listener spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Their third album We Are the Halluci Nation, was released last year and is a physical representation of the struggle and celebration of indigenous communities throughout the globe.
It was a chilling moment hearing John Trudell, the late Santee Dakota activist and writer, through the speakers during the songs “We Are the Halluci Nation” and “ALie Nation.” Hearing the unique and unrestrained voice of Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq had me clutching my heart and letting my muscles relax.
The beauty and significance of ATCR lies in their ability to weave stories, to bring indigenous voices to the forefront. Their latest album, We Are the Halluci Nation, features Lido Pimienta, who is Wayuu, Tanya Tagaq, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Narcy and many more artists who fearlessly brought their own power and skills to the record.
Throughout their set, dancers Matthew Creeasian, Angela Miracle Gladue and James Jones performed with traditional Native American regalia. Throughout the night, they switched between outfits and dancing, throwing in the occasional break dancing. Toward the end, a few dancers went onstage and participated in a dance-off, which set the crowd ablaze with their charisma and great moves.
Music will continue to be a source of resistance, celebration and change. A Tribe Called Red is in their golden era, and it could not have come at a more perfect time, healing all of us.
The group will continue touring, hitting New York City on Friday.
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of A Tribe Called Red on Facebook.
Karla Casique is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.