Buffy Sainte-Marie
Four Recordings of Native Strength of the 2016 Hotlist includes Indian Country icon Buffy Sainte-Marie

Four Recordings of Native Strength: 2016 Hotlist

Lisa J. Ellwood

“Still Amazin’!” Artist - Buffy Sainte-Marie

Iconic Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie has a talent that is ageless. “I write at the same degree of excellence that I wrote in the ’60s,” she told ICTMN in 2015. “Songwriting is a gift. It really surprised people in the ’60s. They asked ‘How can you be so young and write with such wisdom?’ Now, they ask, ‘How can you be the age you are and write with such freshness?’”

Buffy Sainte Marie

She has never been one to do things by halves, as the old saying goes, and the title track from her latest award-winning album Power in the Blood is no exception. She told ICTMN the song of the same name is something she re-wrote— originally written by Alabama Three. “I thought it would make a great anti-war song. So,I changed their lyrics and I made it about GMO and fracking and military take-over.”
You can watch Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood Polaris 2015 performance.


Gripping Cultural Revamp - Frank Waln

Frank Waln - Tumblr Rebel Music

Much has been said and written about the racist stereotypes of Native Americans in Disney’s 1953 animated film Peter Pan and their origins in the 1904 play and 1911 novel of the same name by Scottish playwright and author J.M. Barrie. With recent controversies over the latest Pan adaptation and Netflix’s The Ridiculous Six along with numerous ongoing Native Mascot conflicts, award-winning Sicangu Lakota Hip-Hop artist and MTV Rebel Music ❘ Native America: 7th Generation Rises veteran Frank Waln turns Disney’s deeply offensive What Makes the Red Man Red song into an insightful and damning commentary on how little has actually changed in modern understanding and depictions of America’s Indigenous Peoples. Here are just a few small samples of his powerful assault:

“Your history books (lies), Your holidays (lies)
Thanksgiving lies and Columbus Day
Tell me why I know more than the teacher
Tell me why I know more than the preacher
Tell me why you think the red man is red
Stained with the blood from the land you bled

Hollywood portrays us wrong (like savages)
History books say we’re gone (like savages)
Your god and church say we’re wrong (like savages)
We’re from the Earth, it made us strong

You made me red when you killed my people
Made me red when you bled my tribe
Made me red when you killed my people
(Like savages/ Like savages)"

Disney made us look like animals in Peter Pan, so I took one of their songs and tore it to shreds,” Waln said on Twitter in January when he released the track.

You can listen to Frank Waln’s What Makes The Red Man Red? on Soundcloud.


Great Comeback Without Leaving - Michael Bucher

Michael Bucher aka 'Django Mike' - Photo: Vincent Schilling

When news of Cherokee Folk Singer-Songwriter Michael Bucher’s tragic tablesaw accident that cost him three fingers swept through Indian country in mid-January 2015, many fans assumed his career was over.

Fast-forward to May 2016 and ‘Django Mike’ Bucher is far from being done with performing, even surprising himself with what he can do with a guitar. (I gave him the ‘Django Mike’ nickname, inspired by legendary Manouche-Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.) Reinhardt developed his much-lauded unique style of playing using two fingers for solos and two severely injured fingers for chords because of a horrific fire accident. As it turns out, Bucher also admired Reinhardt and took the nickname as a sign he shouldn’t give up, though playing again was a tall order.

After months of rehabilitation riddled by frustrations and self-doubt, Django Mike has finally found his musical sweet spot again thanks to a tacky adhesive that makes it possible for him to hold his guitar pick. Now strumming his guitar using a pick his remaining thumb and middle finger, in early January he achieved a seemingly impossible dream - he was able to play the most technically difficult song he has ever written, Dark Horse. Though he’s concerned about audience reactions to his injured hand, Bucher is keen to finish his third album and get back on stage.

“I’m throwing myself back out there,” he told ICTMN last month. “I can now pick just as accurately as if I had five fingers.”

You can listen to Michael Bucher’s flawless performance of Dark Horse (played with only seven fingers) on YouTube.


Your Chance to Fly - Supaman

Supaman - YouTube

Supaman stands out as an edgy MC and performer mixing the old and the new with his champion-level Fancy dancing, singing, rapping, beat-boxing, traditional Native instruments, and signature drum loops. One of his stated goals is to be a force for good in his community and highlight the positive aspects of rez life, but he isn’t afraid to tackle the challenges. In this respect Why? is a natural progression from the contemplations of Prayer Loop Song.

“It touches on a lot of tough questions about why things are the way they are, not only in our culture but various subjects like suicide, deadbeat dads, why do bad things happen to good people? Why do some people make it and why do others die?’ Supaman told ICTMN last September. “Just questions we all have about life. I threw them all together in a couple of verses. I’m just trying to connect with the audience and spark those questions so that maybe [people] don’t just go along and accept things simply as the way they are, but actually want to do something to bring change in ourselves, or  change the way society thinks.”

You can watch the video for Supaman’s Why? on YouTube.

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