The 'Native American Experience'

NDN record labels may be nothing more than the Wal-mart of our musical potential

By Garrett Brennan Stewart

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In a Buyer's Market where distribution and product placement controls the publics' perception of what the "market" in question has to offer, Artistic Innovation and growth progresses at a snails pace, if at all.

Although "Independent" in the eyes of Mainstream Amerika, Record Labels that specialize in the Native American Experience have managed to monopolize and Exploit the very Identity that has been under siege for nigh half a millenia.

By projecting a non-threatening, nostalgic archetype, SOAR and Canyon Records--the Walmart and K-mart of Native Amerikan Music--continue to dictate to the Consumers of the world a misrepresentation of how Native America really is. Unless of course, you live in the wonderful world of Fallacy where Iron Eyes Cody(RIP) still sheds a tear for the sea of garbage that those who idealize and romanticize never seem to clean up.

I'm somewhat offended by the Market's con job. It's almost as if these jokers are insulting the intelligence of both the participant(a more liberating point of reference to the music listener) and the Artist who(knowingly?) perpetuates the farse.

Being an Indigenous Inhabitant on the Rez(or off, as long as the root's still there...or in my case, umbillical cord) in this Post Modern Age, 2003 common Era,we find the State of Indian Country rife with domestic strife; alcohol, drugs, amorality, potential pandemic of sexual transmitted diseases, enviromental instability, growing generational rift between the last century and this Brave New World that actually lives up to its billing. Now, my friends, go back to the previous run-on sentence and you will find that the social problems i mentioned are not exclusive to the Rez, but to Amerika. No longer can we sit on the side-lines and act the part of IronEyesCody (RIP) and weep stoicly, that was then, this is NOW!


Times of Discontent always give birth to change, either for better or worse, and more often than not, Art in all of it's mediums is the vehicle for change, again for better or worst. Recent examples of Art's impact on world events--albeit a malevolent one-- include Hitler and Goebells, both "failed" artists...but wait, who's to say that their "Art" was not to bring an end to waning era? No doubt some uptight Art Professor, schooled in the non-importance of Art rather than it's subliminal power and cultural importance, it's funny how the cadavers of Academia not only add to the con, but that some actually believe it.

Contemporary Native Amerikan Music/Art's biggest flaw is either hiding or ignoring the Truth; god forbid they acknowlege the Indigenous Artists of this waning era as people before the craft; by doing that, they've only sown the seeds for discontent. Good art is not hard to find, but it can't be found in Santa Fe, Albuquerque or Phoenix...it's found underground...right next to my umbillical cord.

About the author
Stewart, 4/4 Navajo ("Better Red Than Dead"), is an Artist by Day and a Janitor by Night. His higher works can be viewed at www.geocities.com/hooghanhozhoni

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