Aboriginal Hip Hop Culture

Vancouver – British Columbia

Tuesday, 4 October 2011, 11:23 PM
Beat Nation and grunt gallery : Hip Hop as Indigenous Culture, based in Vancouver B.C., is a virtual community featuring young Aboriginal artists from across Canada, the United States, and South America with one First Nations artist, Ron Harris (Ostwelve), connecting his work with Indigenous movements in South Africa. The website is produced by grunt gallery, a Vancouver-based artist run centre that has a twenty year relationship with First Nations communities as programmed artists, staff and board members. Curated by Tania Willard and Skeena Reece, as Program Director Glenn Alteen notes, grunt gallery “encourages an interface between Aboriginal artists working in Contemporary Art and the wider Canadian Contemporary Arts communities” (email correspondence). Thus the gallery and website feature several different artistic mediums, from rap and music through to painting (such as graffiti art) and sculpture, as part of an Aboriginal Hip Hop youth movement and includes Aboriginal artists from B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Newfoundland First Nations.

The Witness by Bunky Echo Hawk Ostwelve Leena Minifie's 'Geeka'
‘The Witness’
by Bunky Echo Hawk
Rapper and Writer
Ostwelve Ron Harris
Still shot from Leena Minifie’s

The website (created by Cree artist Archer Pechawis from Mistawasis First Nation , Saskatchewan) is itself a living piece of hip hop art maintained curators Tania Willard and Skeena Reece. Indeed Pechawis runs his own web design studio which is an industry leader,All Nations Media, out of Vancouver. The featured artists on Beat Nation are too numerous to mention, but there are a great many examples of these young artists embracing their traditional cultures through hip hop. One such example is filmmaker and programmerKevin Lee Burton (Swampy Cree), from God’s Lake Narrows, MB. Among his numerous productions, Burton has produced a video and a series of still photos called Nikamowin (or song), a production on the importance of maintaining nehiyawayawin (or Cree language).

Beatnation.org is one of nine productions developed by grunt gallery and designed by Archer Pechawis in the last five years. As with Beatnation, these grunt gallery productions provide an important venue where Aboriginal youth can express the visions of their lives and communities. As more youth in remote and rural communities gain internet access they will be able to participate in such youth movements while remaining in their communities.

Neskonlith Beaded Shoes by Doreen Manuel Marrow Truck Co. 2008, Skateboard Truck Carved from Moose Antler Miss Christie Lee aka Crunch
Neskonlith Beaded Shoes
by Doreen Manuel
Moose Antler Skateboard Truck
by Jordan Bennet
Musqueam Rapper Miss Christie Lee
aka Crunch

*All images from Beat Nation (www.beatnation.org), with permission

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