Light in the Attic Records is preparing to release the “most ambitious and historically significant project” in the label’s history: Native North America—a 34-track compilation of music from the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, recorded between 1966 and 1985.
Native North America is a project that has been more than a decade in the making.
DJ and record collector Kevin “Sipreano” Howes spent 12 years researching, compiling music, travelling, and interviewing Indigenous artists for inclusion on the album, and the results are righteous, revolutionary and historically unprecedented.
Native North America (Vol. 1) features music from the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the northern United States, recorded in the turbulent decades between 1966 to 1985. It represents the fusion of shifting global popular culture and a reawakening of Aboriginal spirituality and expression…You’ll hear Arctic garage rock from the Nunavik region of northern Quebec, melancholy Yup’ik folk from Alaska, and hushed country blues from the Wagmatcook First Nation reserve in Nova Scotia. You’ll hear echoes of Neil Young, Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Johnny Cash, and more among the songs, but injected with Native consciousness, storytelling, poetry, history, and ceremony.
Indigenous music, like Indigenous Peoples more generally, occupies both a historical and present blind spot in settler society’s consciousness.
But far from being mythic, imaginary figures of some forgotten colonial past, Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985 documents the deep currents of creativity that have been continuously at work throughout Turtle Island and the wide-ranging influences and styles of Indigenous musicians.
Notably, many of these songs haven’t been heard outside of local communities since they were first recorded. Howes explains:
“All 34 songs blow my mind in one way or another. They were often made for folks in their regional communities, but like musicians the world over, most were hoping that their songs would be able to reach as many people as possible. [But] much of this music wasn’t heard outside of the greater Aboriginal music community at the time of release…[although] this music was very much embraced on the reserves and in regional communities across the country, as well as gaining some traction in coffeehouses, dance halls, and the folk festival circuit.”
The album reflects a diverse musical and cultural geography: gathering music from Indigenous Peoples across Canada, north to Alaska, and covering everything from folk and psychedelia, to country soul and garage rock.
“When I first heard the original recordings featured on NNA V1“, Howes explained to The Stranger, “I had to learn more about these records, how they were made and by who. These artists should take their righteous place in our collective cultural history.”
Indigenous musicians, who are rarely recognized (let alone celebrated) for their artistry and collective contribution to the evolution of recorded music, deserve to take up this rightful place—and Native North America captures the continued currents of Indigenous “consciousness, storytelling, poetry, history, and ceremony” that have been encoded in song.
This music is as much about our collective past as it is our collective present: and, to paraphrase Vine Deloria, we need to hear where we have been before we see where we should go, we need to know how to get there, and we need to have a good soundtrack for our journey.
Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985 — FULL TRACK LIST:
1. Willie Dunn – “I Pity the Country”
2. John Angaiak – “I’ll Rock You to the Rhythm of the Ocean”
3. Sugluk – “Fall Away”
4. Sikumiut – “Sikumiut”
5. Willie Thrasher – “Spirit Child”
6. Willy Mitchell – “Call of the Moose”
7. Lloyd Cheechoo – “James Bay”
8. Alexis Utatnaq – “Maqaivvigivalauqtavut”
9. Brian Davey – “Dreams of Ways”
10. Morley Loon – “N’Doheeno”
11. Peter Frank – “Little Feather”
12. Ernest Monias – “Tormented Soul”
13. Eric Landry – “Out of the Blue”
14. David Campbell – “Sky-Man and the Moon”
15. Willie Dunn – “Son of the Sun”
16. Shingoose (poetry by Duke Redbird) – “Silver River”
17. Willy Mitchell and Desert River Band – “Kill’n Your Mind”
18. Philippe McKenzie – “Mistashipu”
19. Willie Thrasher – “Old Man Carver”
20. Lloyd Cheechoo – “Winds of Change”
21. The Chieftones (Canada’s All Indian Band) – “I Shouldn’t Have Did What I Done”
22. Sugluk – “I Didn’t Know”
23. Lawrence Martin – “I Got My Music”
24. Gordon Dick – “Siwash Rock”
25. Willy Mitchell and Desert River Band – “Birchbark Letter”
26. William Tagoona – “Anaanaga”
27. Leland Bell – “Messenger”
28. Saddle Lake Drifting Cowboys – “Modern Rock”
29. Willie Thrasher – “We Got to Take You Higher”
30. Sikumiut – “Utirumavunga”
31. Sugluk – “Ajuinnarasuarsunga”
32. John Angaiak – “Hey, Hey, Hey, Brother”
33. Groupe Folklorique Montagnais – “Tshekuan Mak Tshetutamak”
34. Willie Dunn (featuring Jerry Saddleback) – “Peruvian Dream (Part 2)”
STREAM: NATIVE NORTH AMERICA – VOL. 1
Native North America is currently available for pre-order and will be released November 25, 2014.