Inaugural Indigenous Arts and Music Festival
Festival season continues! March 4th-5th, 2023 will mark the inaugural Indigenous Arts and Music Festival on the Big Cypress Reservation. The theme for the 1st annual festival will be “Honoring Our Matriarchs.” This free event will feature Indigenous speakers, performers, artists, and crafters from across the United States and Canada. So, this week, join us to learn all about the Indigenous Arts and Music Festival, what it has to offer, and how to make the most of this busy festival weekend!
Snotty Nose Rez Kids
From Kitimaat Village, British Columbia, the Snotty Nose Rez Kids are a hip-hop duo. It is composed of Haisla rappers Young D and Yung Trybez. Formed in 2016, the duo met and began collaborating in high school. Their 2019 album Trapline was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize. They have since received two Juno award nominations and 10 Western Canadian music awards. Currently, they are in the midst of a 40-city North American tour. One of their stops is the Big Cypress Indigenous Arts & Music Festival. The tour promotes their album Life After, and new project I’m Good HBU?, which released in December 2022. The duo will perform on Saturday, March 4th at 5 pm.
Spencer Battiest and Doc Native
Closing out the Indigenous Arts and Music Festival, Spencer Battiest and Doc Native headline on Sunday, March 5th at 6 pm. They are award winning artists, as well as being brothers and members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Growing up between the Hollywood Reservation and Broken Bow, Oklahoma, the pair come from a long line of singers and musicians. Battiest became the first Native American artist signed to Hard Rock records in 2014.
After the release of his second music video, Battiest emphasized his desire to be an inspiration, saying “Whether or not I become a huge success, my goal is to elevate Native Americans and encourage my people to go after their dreams…to do it to the best of their ability and at the highest level they can.” This message is highlighted in their newest release, 2021 single and music video Dream.
It opens with two native youth watching a flickering TV screen, with the tagline “Go after your dream.” This release is about who the brothers are today, and the life struggles that got them to where they are now. The first collaboration in a decade, it released on the 10 year anniversary of their last collaborative song. The brother’s breakout song ‘The Storm”, released in 2011, is a tribute to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, their history, and their family. Battiest and Doc Native filmed the music video, along with Stephen Paul Judd, while teaching at a tribal youth summer camp. In 2017 article with the Smithsonian Magazine, Battiest explained some of his inspiration in his music, stating “I’ve always had close ties with my tribe since I was young….As I push forward in my career and see how far I can go, I always carry my tribe with me.”
Dr. Lyla June Johnston (aka Lyla June) is a poet, singer-songwriter, hip-hop artist, human ecologist, public speaker and community organizer of Diné (Navajo), Tsétsêhéstâhese (Cheyenne) and European lineages. Her multi-genre presentation style has engaged audiences across the globe towards personal, collective and ecological healing. Her messages focus on Indigenous issues and solutions, supporting youth, inter-cultural healing, historical trauma, and traditional land stewardship practices.
She blends her study of Human Ecology at Stanford, graduate work in Indigenous Pedagogy, and the traditional worldview she grew up with to inform her music, perspectives and solutions. Her doctoral research focused on the ways in which pre-colonial Indigenous Nations shaped large regions of Turtle Island (aka the Americas) to produce abundant food systems for humans and non-humans. Lyla June’s internationally acclaimed live performances are conveyed through the medium of speech, hip-hop, poetry, and acoustic music. Her personal goal is to grow closer to Creator by learning how to love deeper.
In a 2018 article in the Navajo Times, June talked about her heritage and her music, stating “in my upbringing, music was all about deep intention to make the world a better place. Music was seen as a healer and singers were viewed as doctors….I was raised by strong people to live my life deliberately and to view every one of my creations as an opportunity to heal my people, all people.” In addition, June’s most recent TedxKC talk released in November 2022. In the talk, June speaks about restoring indigenous land-management practices. It is titled “3,000-year-old Solutions to Modern Problems” and is available now. Lyla June will be on stage on Saturday, March 4th at 1pm, and Sunday, March 5th at 5pm.
One Way Sky
One Way Sky is a budding Indigenous indie rock band from the Gila River Indian Community and the Tohono O’odham Nation. The passionate four-piece consists of Adrian D Thomas (vocals, rhythm guitar), Cody Bruguier (drums), Loma Manuel (lead guitar), and Damien Carlos (bass). Their sound is a unique blend of hard-hitting riffs and soaring vocal melodies. Their lyrics are both empowering and poetic, touching on themes of identity and resilience in the face of adversity. Since their formation in 2019, they have made an impression on the local Arizona music scene with their captivating and soulful performances. Their latest single, “Indian Route 15,” has been well-received by critics, who have praised its dreamy sound and thoughtful lyrics. The band also draws heavily from their Indigenous roots, showcasing the band’s rich cultural heritage and deep appreciation for their heritage.
In a recent article, they talked about their inspiration, “Our main inspiration is to leave something great with this world,” said Thomas. “Not only do we want to create some great music, we want our messages to reach the hearts of those who need it. We want to bring healing and good vibes. We aspire to tour the world and share our music…. to represent our communities by being the best versions of ourselves.” One Way Sky Will be performing Saturday, March 4th at 11:15am and Sunday, March 5th at 3:15 pm.
Additional acts include Aye Five & Carradine Billie, Cornwallis, Fawn Wood, and more! You can view the full Indigenous Arts and Music Festival event schedule here.
Other Notable Events
The Indigenous Arts and Music Festival will host an exciting panel discussion on Saturday, March 4th at 1:45pm. The panel will feature an all-female indigenous panel. It will have contributors such as Representative Ruth Buffalo (North Dakota State Representative), Honorable Ponka-We Victors Cozad (Former Kansas State Representative), Norma Flying Horse (Red Berry Woman, below), Tina Osceola, and others.
Red Berry Woman
Red Berry Woman is a fashion line that incorporates Native American traditional garment styles into contemporary couture garments and ready to wear for both women and men. It was created by Norma Baker-Flying Horse. Flying-Horse is an enrolled member of the Hidatsa tribe and a member of the Dakota Sioux and Assiniboine tribes as well as an adopted member of the Crow Nation. RBW is the recipient of the 2020 International Designer of the year. Additionally, the 2022 Phoenix Fashion Week Designer of the Year, and the 2022 Cultural Recognition Visual Arts Grammy Award co-recipient. Her designs have been seen on various red carpet events such as the Grammys and the Oscars. She was named the first Native American contemporary designer to have a dress worn ON the Oscar stage during an Oscar musical performance.
Norma Flying Horse is known for incorporating traditional indigenous garment styles into contemporary garments. Her self-named fashion line, Red Berry Woman, featured contemporary couture and ready to wear items. Flying Horse “strives to create pieces that honor and celebrate her tribal bloodlines.” Additionally, RBW will host a fashion show on Sunday, March 5th at 1:00 pm.
Another Freestyle Alligator Wrestling Competition is on the books at this exciting event! There will be competition times both days, March 4-5th, at 4:00pm. To learn more about FAWC, and alligator wrestling, check out a section in our previous post on Brighton Field Day.
How to get there
This inaugural Indigenous Art and Music Festival will take place on the Big Cypress Reservation at 36500 Rodeo Drive, Clewiston, FL 33440.
If you are coming from Fort Lauderdale, take exit 49 for Snake Road off of I-75. Follow Snake Road for approximately 15 miles, and the Rodeo Arena will be to your left.
If you are coming from Fort Myers, take FL 82-E for about 19 miles. Keep right to turn on FL-29. Continue on FL-29 through Immokalee. Turn left onto E Main, and then almost immediately turn left onto County Rd 846. Take County Rd 846 for 20 miles. You will come to an intersection where you will take a sharp right onto County Rd 833 S. You will take 833 S for another 16 miles, and end up right on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Continue through the reservation, passing by the gas station and Sadie’s. The Rodeo Arena will be on your right on Snake Road.
Below, you can see an event map for the festival. We hope to see you there!
Originally from Washington state, Deanna Butler received her BA in Archaeological Sciences from the University of Washington in 2014. Deanna moved to South Florida in 2016. Soon, she began working for the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Deanna was the THPO’s Archaeological Collections Assistant from 2017-2021. While at the THPO, Deanna worked to preserve, support, and process the Tribe’s archaeological collection. She often wrote the popular Artifact of the Month series, and worked on many community and educational outreach programs. She lives in Fort Myers, FL with her husband, son, and dog.