Having travelled to 49 of the 50 states in North America, I have realised the amazing diversity amongst its people. In fact the Americas (North and South) are home to over 1000 indigenous languages. And what amazing musical sounds and styles from the second line drumming of New Orleans, Inuit throat singing known as katajjaq from Quebec to Brazillian samba and Guyana calypso. What stands out artistically amongst the indigenous people of these lands is their visual arts – their pottery, paintings, jewellery, weavings, basketry, beadwork, carvings and sculptures.
It is said that history books are written by those who win wars! This short video tells the story of the pilgrims from a Wampanoag perspective. Ships had been trading with Native Americans for fish, furs and people for 100 years before the pilgrims arrived to set up camp. Squanto, a Wampanoag, amongst many others was kidnapped and taken into slavery 6 years before the pilgrims arrived. He was taken to Spain and then became an interpreter on an English boat, eventually escaping back to his people – sadly, returning to his people, he found his village Patuxet, and everyone he knew, dead, from a plague and he ended up becoming a type of servant with another tribe. When the pilgrims arrived he became their interpreter and guide, and helped negotiate a treaty with the most powerful local Native American confederation, a peace that lasted more than 50 years.
After a morning of recording in San Diego we went to my favourite Mexican restaurant to find a wonderful group of six girls and one guy playing wonderful mariachi music. The group is called Mariachi Divinas worth checking out if you are in the area.
Whilst on the island of Kaua’i, a friend Kaplan Bunce invited me to the Powwow in Paradise, a cultural event and a traditional Native American powwow for the community . Many tribes and Pacific nations were represented and much dancing and drumming – this exert is the amazing hoop dancing.
We left the Alaskan Highway just south of Toc and travel along a 25-mile dirt road that snakes its way into the bush. We are heading to the Tetlin community, home for 120 Athabaskan people.
So where is Tahltan country, I hear you ask? Its in a remote and beautiful part of northern BC with the north/western border running parallel to the Alaskan/Canadian border, including part of Yukon Territory. The south/eastern border includes the upper Nass tributaries and western half of the Stikine plateau, including the sacred headwaters of the Stikine, Nass and Skeena rivers.
We traveled up from Vancouver, a team representing many different nations, a trailer full of supplies and gifts of food and utilities for the First Nations communities we were going to meet In a car convoy, it took over 18 hours to get to our first stop – Stikine Canyon about 30 mins from Dease Lake BC!
We are enjoying a fish supper at the mouth of the Fraser river in Vancouver – tomorrow we head north as we have been invited on a trip to Northern British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska by Grand Chief Lynda Prince of the Carrier Sekai Nation. Our first stop is at a music festival with the Tahltan people where we will be recording 120 First Nations drums!
A wonderful couple of days recording drums and chanting with Carol Kiger-Rice and Joseph and Martha Manzo. Joseph is from the Pueblo people and Martha is Inuit. We were @ Lower Warehouse studios thanks to my good friend Joel DeWitt who was engineering.
Every recording situation comes with it’s own unique struggles and this time it was discovering how to capture this beautiful drum without some natural squeaks and booms – always a creative process, I learn something new with every experience!
The high pitched chant and the sound of the drum filled the arena, as tribes from California slowly filled the sacred circle (a space that had been blessed) in reverence to the Great Creator. Each dancer carries stories, woven into symbols and colours on their distinctive regalia (Native costume) and for some, as they dance, each individual dance step is offered up as a prayer. Read More