The above video is a song called “In The Spirit,” by a Native American hip hop artist from Portland, Oregon called Kunu Dittmer-Bearchum. The video came to my attention because my very long time friend Tim shared it on his Facebook page, where he has recently featured a lot of interesting photography, art, music and issues related to the Native American community in the Pacific Northwest. He co-directed this music video and also did camera work for it, and I think he did an excellent job. I’ve never featured hip hop/rap on my blog before–as everyone knows I’m a heavy metal guy–but both the artistry (musical and photographic) and the message here need more visibility.
Across the United States and Canada, Native communities continue to suffer disproportionately from poverty, economic dislocation and racism. It’s really shocking how our government and society has left these communities behind to a much greater degree than any other single group. If you listen to the lyrics of “In The Spirit” carefully you’ll notice how the group references so many of these issues, including climate change, that are all interconnected in how they affect not just Native Americans but everyone. I’ve consistently argued on this blog that cultural responses to these issues are a crucial and central strategy to dealing with them. That’s why videos and artists like this are important.