Session/Séance 2c: IASPM Panel 1. Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017. 2:00PM-3:00PM, EJB 330.
Recognizing Red: A Tribe Called Red from Three Perspectives
Moderator: KARYN RECOLLET (University of Toronto)
1. We are the Halluci Nation: A Tribe Called Red, Recognition, and Belonging
Ryan Shuvera, Western University
A Tribe Called Red’s (ATCR) latest album We Are The Halluci Nation (2016) gives life to the words and ideas passed on by the late Santee Dakota author, activist, and musician John Trudell. The first words heard on the album are spoken by Trudell. He begins by characterizing the Halluci Nation and states “we are the tribe that they cannot see/we live on an industrial reservation.” The Halluci Nation is not a reserve community kept hidden from other cultures, nor is it a gated community trying to shut out those whom it fails to understand. It is a community of great inclusivity, but a complex inclusivity that must be interrogated. Trudell and ATCR are making a call. On one level the Halluci Nation is a rhythmic call to all cultures to welcome them to the dancefloor. On another level it is a polit- ical call to recognize and address how we might go about engaging in cross-cultural dances beyond the dance floor. It is a call that brings one to ask what it means for members of Indigenous cultures to open up rhythmic spaces and welcome members of settler cultures to the dancefloor. Additionally, it forces one to think about what it means for members of settler cultures to recognize this welcoming, to accept the invitation, and feel addressed to take up the responsibility to recognize or re-think relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures. This paper looks to begin to explore how and what it means for an album such as We Are The Halluci Nation to open up spaces for a cross-cultural interrogation of recognition and belonging.
Keywords: recognition, We Are The Halluci Nation, cross-cultural conversation, responsibility, dance floor
2. A Tribe Called Red’s Halluci Nation: Sonifying Embodied Global Allegiances, Decolonization, and Indigenous Activism
Alexa Woloshyn, Carnegie Mellon University
“We are the tribe that they cannot see. We live on an industrial reservation. We are the Halluci Nation.” These words from Indigenous activist and poet John Trudell (1946-2015) inspired the latest album by Ottawa-based Indigenous DJ collective A Tribe Called Red (ATCR) and frame its pan-Indigenous, transcultural message. I have previously argued (2015) that ATCR’s music creates a space of resistance and embodied sovereignty through kinaesthetic listening on the dance floor. Indigenous listeners engage their bodies in response to the catchy dance music whose powwow samples signify a persistent Indigenous cultural legacy. Intertribal relationships are both common and important to Indigenous communities, especially in urban centres (Andersen 2013). Powwows are also events that emphasize intertribal and intercultural relationships, even as they are hosted by a specific nation (Browner 2002; Johnson 2013; Valaskakis 2005). With Halluci Nation (2016), ATCR seeks to foster far-reaching allegiances across culture, ethnicity, and place to “[understand] oppression and how to collectively dismantle oppression” (DJ NDN of ATCR). This paper argues that ATCR’s Halluci Nation sonifies a process of decolonization that establishes an embodied network of global allies. I trace the development of ATCR’s music from its original focus on the Ottawa Indigenous community and its non-Indigenous allies to a call for nation-to-nation relationships (see Juno Award- winning album Nation II Nation, 2013), and now to a concept album that seeks to manifest a real “Halluci Nation” with members from around the world. Analysis of ATCR’s music, audience, and Halluci Nation album is contextualized by studies of community formation and identity politics in intertribal initiatives (Peters 2006; Pitawanakwat 2008), such as powwows (Browner 2009; Tulk 2012) and friendship centres, and pan-Indigenous activism, such as Idle No More and the Standing Rock pipeline protest.
Keywords: indigenous, decolonization, community, identity, activism
3. “Stepping into an Unsettled Future”: Repetition, Temporality, and the Sublimation of Trauma in a Live Show by A Tribe Called Red
Lee Veeraraghavan, University of Pennsylvania
The Anthropocene, a new geological era characterized by the massive exploitation of resources leading to changes to the earth made by humans, evokes a temporal scale that transcends national anniversaries. Nevertheless, as it turns 150 years old, Canada’s policies toward the environment have contributed to pushing the planet into this new geological era. To come to terms with this incongruity, it is helpful to examine where alternative temporalities intersect with current policy. This paper discusses a 2014 Vancouver show by the indigenous electronica group A Tribe Called Red, as part of the Tsleil-Waututh Winter Gathering, which raised funds for the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation’s fight against the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. A Tribe Called Red combines elements of dubstep and powwow music, wedding a strong anti-colonial challenge to an environmental agenda. The sounds of the mixed beats of A Tribe Called Red’s live show merge with images of remixed films, overwriting previous inscriptions of colonial violence through the dancing bodies of the audience. Drawing on Jane Bennett’s radical ecological conception of vibrant matter and Gilles Deleuze’s writing on repetition and film, I argue that A Tribe Called Red’s live show constitutes an open, incomplete movement toward sublimating the trauma of colonization. This takes corporeal form as a living text constantly in the process of being rewritten, transcending colonial notions of literacy and expression (exemplified, for example, by the artistic mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission). Literally moving bodies through the linear temporality of trauma’s etiology, A Tribe Called Red’s show opens onto the possibility of radical uncertainty in the struggle over the inscription of the earth.
Keywords: trauma, remixes, decolonization, Anthropocene, ecology