Indigenous connections to history through Hip Hop

Indigenous Hip Hop is something unique with its modern form of culture that resonates with our ancestors knowledge. What makes it different from mainstream Hip Hip are the storytelling of the experience being Indigenous in the modern-day colonised countries. Hip Hop itself is Indigenous from its original ancestral routes to Indigenous people from around the globe living in the Bronx. My Indigenous ontological position allows me to create the story of Indigenous people in the Bronx taking on their ancestral roots from Africa and South and North American communities and creating a culture on their urban environment. Indigenous Rap is the new form of storytelling on the daily lived culture of Indigenous youth from urban to remote communities in both Canada and Australia and beyond.

My research is a snapshot of people I talked to and experiences I was having during this research experience. My intent for my research was to help bring forward a voice for Indigenous youth that are a part of this Indigenous cultural phenomenon. Most research with Indigenous youth and Hip Hop looks at it from a culture and racial theories, I wanted to come to the research from an Indigenous perspective that allows me to privilege the history and stories from Indigenous perspectives. I did this through creating an Indigenous Research Paradigm that grounded the research in Indigenous philosophies and worldviews. I tried my best to not pan-Indigenise my research so I went all the way back to learning history from communities on their creation stories that hold balance in life.

In Australian Indigenous communities they talk about traditional stories of creation that in turn when joined together becomes one songline of their creation of this continent. In North America the stories become a larger story of the creation of Turtle Island. I took this idea global and looked at how creation stories here and in Canada can create an international songline. Our relationship to each other in my research starts at our relationship with Mother Earth and her creation.

I was able to travel across Canada with my sister’s spare van and through invites from friends and attending conferences, I also flew from East to West in Australia. My experience varies from each talk I had with youth and artists and experiences of performances. I also used social media, online music media and a blog to listen, learn and share my experiences while doing my research. All of it encompasses a wide range of voices that I would never be able to capture in just doing interviews. There were a lot of connections made and still more to come.

The messages that I really heard from the youth and artist was one of Self Determination with respect and need for Treaties, the need to Decolonize our nation states and their colonial histories, and the call for the newer generations to learn their traditional cultures and keep their modern identities or also known as Resurgence. This resurgence is one that allows us to control our culture and how we are viewed and represented as modern peoples in the world today. Resurgence or in Hip Hop culture ‘to be woke’ is the call of Indigenous people to stand up and share their stories for a better future for the next generations. Having the privilege to observe Indigenous Hip Hop and Indigenous youth in the Hip Hop movement was amazing. The youth are aware of past mistreatments of their ancestors, and are living ‘in the struggle’ of the centuries of colonization and want to make sure they leave a better future for our next generations. All the youth and artist were honoured to be a part of my research and educated me in so many ways.

My workshop at Healing Our Spirit Worldwide Conference is me sharing the stories and experiences of my research and will let you experience this movement through videos and stories that are on my social media: Spotify, Blog and facebook.

This article was created in partnership with the Healing Foundation for Healing Our Spirit Worldwide The Eighth Gathering 26th – 29th November 18 #HOSW8