"The Northstar Dancers were absolutely fantastic! Their energy and talent lit up the stage. I could have watched them all night."

Dave Davis
Vice President, National Productions
Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Heart of Painted Sky

They say there was a song for everything every job, every game, every journey, every prayer, every season how I wish that I could return to those days, just to experience the Music filling the air as the People lived and flourished. I have spent the last 26 years studying, performing, carrying and teaching Native traditional music. It has been a wonderful journey that has taken me across the oceans to share the Music of my People. My Dine' elders of the Four Corners Region tell me that I come from a line of 16 generations of singing healers, hataathlii, we call themcarriers of the sacred healing songs. I am honored and grateful to stand in their place as we prepare to enter the next millenium.

The Native People of the North American continent are some of the finest vocalists of the world. We have spent thousands of years perfecting our technique, laying our histories, philosophies, values, and cosmologies to song. We even carry and remember the Songs given to us by our relatives; the Wind People, Mountain People, River People, Kachinas, and many, many more Spirit Relatives that we have maintained ongoing relationships with through the millenia. While other continents have focused their energies to develop knowledge and skill of drums and rhythms, or instruments of brass, reed, or string, we have diligently devoted ourselves to the Vocal Arts. So highly developed are these skills that the need for written word was not imperative. We knew the power of the memory of Song Remember how you learned the alphabet? A, B, C, D--- E, F, G---. Will you ever forget the tune of that song? Did you teach that song to your children to learn them as well? Will you sing it to your grandchildren as you bounce them on your lap?

Within Song we have found the power to maintain our record, our healing, our future. That is why we still have our Medicine, our Ceremonies, our Healers, our Ways. They could not be burned, stolen or left behind, we have kept singing them through the generations

"As long as there is someone to sing the Songs they will never grow old"
Beh ak'idii, Navajo Singer/Healer

It is a very shameful thing that the music of this very land has been ignored and overlooked for the last few centuries. This, while the music of cultures of other continents far away was embraced, studied, and showcased in the world markets. The time has come to end this trend. The time has come for the world to experience the beauty, depth and art of the Native Music of North America.

Traditional Native Music has seen an explosive growth over the last two decades, stirring the spirit and rhythm of the People as they rise with new hopes, visions, and futures. Additionally, right now there are many musicians blending their music with contemporary forms; rock, folk, country, jazz, spoken word, blues, rap, reggae With it they bring their stories, wisdom, hopes and prayers for the coming generations, as well as their gut-wrenching commentary on their people's history of invasion, war, prejudice, sovereignty and renewal. America has embraced the likes of Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Joan Baez and their sharp political and philosophical lyrics. Native artists tell the history of america from a different perspective, that of the original keepers of the land, who will not forget what price was paid for the Traditions to be passed on, and who still pray and fight for harmony, peace and respect for all human beings.

Right now, when anarchy, violence and sex fill the lyrics of the pop culture Native Music can bring a welcome re-centering to return the focus to the basic values of human being-ness, respect, harmony, strength, truth, love, and joy

For the Generations

Arlie Neskahi
Rainbow Walker Productions

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