by Armand LaPlante
Yellowsky1
Roberto Andrés Pooyak aka Yellowsky. Photo by Armand LaPlante.

Yellowsky is a Reggae artist from Sweetgrass First Nation and is currently living in Saskatoon. Yellowsky has been active in the music scene for a while bringing that rasta vibe with elements of hiphop. He recently placed 2nd at the Gold Eagle Casino’s Pride of the Northwest Talent Competition after hearing about it from his uncle. Yellowsky will also be opening up for Canadian rapper and member of the Swollen Members: Madchild, on January 5, 2017 at the Saskatoon Events Centre, in Saskatoon.

Indigenous Times: Where are you from and where did you grow up?

Yellowsky: I was born here in Saskatoon, but I grew up between North Battleford and Sweetgrass First Nation until I was 18. I’m originally from Sweetgrass First Nation.

IT: When did you start making music?

YS: I first started writing music when I was around 7 years old, I was just singing. I started rapping when I was about 11 or 12, and I was in the studio when I was 13. It was rap first then reggae– it was an interesting twist there.

IT: How did you first get into making reggae music?

YS: My family—my late mother– all she hung around with were black folks, people from the Caribbean and people from Africa. So I grew up very eclectic in that view because that’s all I was introduced to—very diverse cultures—and that was one of the primary ones. It was reggae; I would listen to it all the time, when I was a kid [my mom] would always be listening to reggae.. my family, my aunties, everybody. From there it just naturally soaked into me and the day I decided to say ‘I want to be a reggae artist’, that was when it popped off, I was around 13.

IT: How was it developing the rhythm and the voice for that? Does that take some time?

YS: A lot of experimentation. It’s also the history too, you have to know your history; reggae is no joke. Not just anybody can do reggae, let alone an Aboriginal from Sweetgrass First Nation, know what I mean? What happened was just listening to it, constantly, always listening to reggae. It’s like when people who listen to hiphop, they can rap, people who listen to pop music, can sing pop music, because they listen to it. For me growing up listening to it, it’s become part of my element.

IT: Do you know any other First Nations reggae artists?

YS: I’m searching. I’ve been searching. I actually know a couple homies of mine that can sing and they can chant, and they can ‘singjay’ which is my style [of reggae]. But they don’t take it serious. I tell them ‘Yo I don’t want to be the only neechie doing this’ [laughs]. It’s a vast genre and it’s a very sacred genre, and it identifies closely to our people. It’s similar in that regard.

IT: Yes, as an outsider to the genre, to me it seems like there’s always been a spiritual element to the music.

YS: Reggae music is very spiritual, and it’s very connecting, so like I said not anyone can just do it, because of that very reason. You just can’t play with it, I never tried to play with it ever, I just became a part of it—or it became a part of me.

IT: Tell us about the new video you have coming out.

YS: It’s called Outer Limitz, we shot it around Saskatoon. It’s a very good video, we have home boys from Kicks n Fits in there, Joey [Stylez], all my fam are in there. I have videos out there already, but this is the first one where we’re serious and pushing it. I’m very proud of it, it came out very good.

IT: When you get on stage and you bust out the reggae flavour, does it ever surprise people?

YS: Yes, in fact, that’s one of the reasons I love doing music: the reaction from people. The way their eyes look, the way they look at me on stage, I live for that. And like I said reggae is very spiritual, I have to be one with the audience, I have to be one with the microphone; I have to have a certain vibe I can’t just get on stage. I have to be prepared.

[The audience] looks at me like ‘where’d that come from?’ ‘where does he come from?’ ‘He comes from Sweetgrass!’ [laughs].

IT: There’s been a lot of tension in this world right now with our people, for example that whole Standing Rock situation, what kind of role do you think music can play in a time like this?

YS: I think it’s the artists that are going to save this world, it’s going to be the creative people that are going to reach a helping hand when it comes to cleaning this world up, whether it be environmentally or politically, any kind of ground really because music is the ultimate language. With reggae, same thing, it’s a very powerful connection, it’s a very powerful tool and when you project it the right way, it reaches all audiences.

In terms of tension, there will always be tensions. But at the same time, there will always be music. Whether it’s Standing Rock or any other bullshit that’s going on in the world, there’s always that tool, that’s music. And you notice that a lot of the artists, even actors, they’re the ones that [were] helping at Standing Rock the most. You see Drezus out there, you see Shailene Woodley out there, these are the creative people, so like I said, music itself will always do its part.

IT: What would your advice be to the youth who are getting into music or even reggae?

YS: I would say to the youth to remain individuals, and to remain accustomed to what you know as a person and as a youth. Things are constantly changing. The thing about the youth now days is that they’re so dead-set on what’s happening right now and they think that’s going to be the rest of their lives. But I want the youth to know that things are going to constantly be changing. Life’s like a sudden rainbow: it’s there then it’s gone. So my advice to the youth is to remain individuals and remain your own power, get your power from yourself.

IT: I’m sure your music will inspire a lot of youth, but at the same time, what inspires you?

YS: My inspiration is culture, culture is there to preserve us as human beings. Culture is there to inspire. When I look at my dreadlocks, my skin, the way I talk, the way I am, my family and everything, those are my inspirations, that’s the culture.

IT: Thanks Yellowsky, I look forward to seeing you perform again, and for you to bring your positive sound and vibes to our communities.

YS: All I got to say is word, sound, and power. That’s it, that’s the formula. Word, sound, and power.

www.soundcloud.com/yellowsky306
Youtube: Yellowsky306

By Armand LaPlante
For Indigenous Times Newspaper June 2013 Edition

MC RedCloud

The setting is a loft on a warm  night in Los Angeles, medicine California on a lively night in May. MC RedCloud and Crystle Lightning, the pair that make up eclectic, house, hiphop duo LightningCloud, are filming a new music video in front of a large green screen. The differing music styles of RedCloud and Crystle complement each other so well in this fresh new group; they have been referred to as the Red version of Bonnie & Clyde. During a short break at the video shoot I got to talk to MC RedCloud for a few minutes.

Armand: What is your video about that we’re shooting here right now?

RedCloud: It’s a fun song called Gravitron, me and Crystle [Lightning] wrote this track for the album. It’s a fire track and we always wanted to shoot a video for it and the homie Mitch Paulson came through with a cool, sick concept to do a green screen and make it look crispy. It’s just a really fun track, a lot of bright colours, a lot of fun.

Congratulations on winning Power 106’s “Who’s Next?” contest; that is huge! Tell us a little bit about that.

1600 artists in Los Angeles fought for the spot of “Who’s Next?” Battle of the Best and we beat everybody in LA. We then went on to beat the New York City winner, this cat named Radamiz, we took him out (in Austin Texas)-- destroyed him. We won $10,000, 12 hours of studio time, and a beat from the producer Timbaland.

Timbaland is world famous. It must be an exciting time in your career.

It’s a dream come true. Working with Timbaland is going to be something that we really needed as break-thru artists and being brand new; this is the beginning of something beautiful. And what’s cool is that we get to work with Timbaland right now while he’s hot. He’s really hot right now with the new Justin Timberlake album that’s all over the world and topping the charts. Working with him right now is insane; we have the beat from him and we’re writing to it right now. It’s going to be amazing.

This past year you Crystle Lightning came out with a new album called LightningCloud and it won best rap/hiphop album at the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards (APCMAs) in Winnipeg. The album had a new sound for you compared to your past work. What were you hoping listeners would sense when listening to the new album?

You know, people evolve, they move on, and they grow up. As a youngster I was a cold-blooded rapper – I still am – but as you get older your movements change and you grow up and mature. When I linked up with Crystle it was a mixture with her style which is a very electronic house vibe. It’s a marriage of two styles and that worked immediately and you see the results immediately. Stuff I couldn’t get done by myself for many years were done instantly with Crystle and Dj Hydroe on the scene.

This new LightningCloud is a whole new sound, a whole new movement, it’s really dope. And it won the best hiphop album of the year at the APCMAs ; that’s what set it off. We are super stoked; we didn’t think a little group from LA would be able to beat these groups that are from Winnipeg or from Canada. So it shows that the people speak.

How does being Aboriginal influence your music?

It’s always there, but people like me or like Joey Stylez who have found a pocket of success don’t necessarily have to cater our music specifically to Aboriginals. But being Aboriginal and being able to knock out some hits and being able to hang with the heavy hitters of other descents, that’s amazing. Being able to chart on top and having your people behind you, that’s automatic -- always having your people rooting for you.

That’s what Crytsle and I are working on; like once you start kicking ass in LA you see that your people have your back no matter what. It goes to show no matter where you go that’s the key to success. Being Aboriginal means that you’re original, you’re the first copy and what we make is the first of everything. Natives out there shouldn’t be trying to pursue being the native version of 50 Cent or the native version of Eminem, or the Aboriginal version of Waka Flocka; we are the originators, we are the first people so everything we do needs to be the First, we need to bring it back to that, and we’ve got a good team over here doing that: 1491.

Got any words of advice for the urban and on-reserve youth grabbing microphones and trying to get in the rap game?

There’s no better time in the world than right now to follow your dreams and to chase them down. Right now the tallest basketball player is a Chinese guy, the sickest golfer is a black guy, and one of the sickest rappers is a white guy. If you’re Aboriginal, there is no better time in the world than right now to blow up because everyone is getting a piece right now.

So to my youth and to my natives, no matter where you are in the world right now  ??  in the middle of nowhere  ??  there are outlets, there are pockets for success, there are ways to get your music out and there are ways to follow your dreams. Don’t let anything that you are hold you back, that is no longer an excuse. It’s 2013. If you’re dope you’re dope! Period.
Memories from NAIG Regina July 2014, sildenafil all photos by Armand LaPlante

A lance run 6 copy A lance run copy A lance run 5 copy

The Lance Run by Armand LaPlante

The Lance Run signified the countdown to the highly anticipated 2014 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) that were held in Regina.

On July 1st, illness 2014, the Lance Run kicked off in Prince Albert at the Prince Albert Grand Council headquarters.

The 10 youth runners of the Lance made their way from Prince Albert, through Batoche, and on to Saskatoon ending up at the Wanuskewin heritage park where they were welcomed with an afternoon of cultural celebration and honouring ceremonies.

Dignitaries on hand included FSIN Vice Chiefs Dutch Lerat and Kim Jonathan, STC Vice Chief Mark Arcand, MLTC Vice Chief Dwayne Lasas, Métis Nation Saskatchewan President Robert Doucette, and Monica Goulet.

The community took this time to honour the Lance runners, chosen from among the NAIG Team Saskatchewan athletes. The Lance will made its way around the province through the treaty territories until it reached the opening ceremonies in Regina on July 20th, 2014.

Past team Saskatchewan athletes of the games were pleasantly surprised when they were each honored with a Team Sask pin salvaged from the 1993 North American Indigenous Games that were held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Only 25 pins remained of the original 7500 that were made in 1993.

It was a beautiful afternoon with speakers and cultural celebration including Métis fiddling and jigging from the Northern Prairies Dancers, and a Pow Wow dance presentation with well-known dancers from around our communities.

The Lance Run is spiritually and culturally significant; hundreds of years ago messages were often passed between territories by runners. Adhering to traditional protocol, the day started out with prayer and the Lance and runners were smudged before entering the sacred, traditional lands of Wanuskewin.

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High Intensity at U19 Basketball Finals at NAIG 2014 by Armand LaPlante

The basketball finals drew quite the intensity from the teams and spectators at the North American Indigenous Games in Regina, July 2014.

U19 Girls Basketball Final

Ontario kept a marginal lead over Manitoba that the team in yellow just couldn’t catch. Ontario showed great ball movement and were able to create quite a few breakaways that kept their lead strong. Despite Manitoba trailing leading late into the 4th, they showed no signs of slowing down; they played fast and physical. Ontario’s players showed that they can execute that left drive well and kept their far lead finishing the game for the Gold Medal: 63 ONT – 49 MB. Both teams played very well and both can return home feeling very proud of themselves.

U19 Boys Basketball Final

Despite Team BC staying at least 10 points ahead of Team Wisconsin throughout the entire game, it was one helluva game. Team BC had a strong defense keeping Wisconsin out of the paint for much of the game forcing Wisconsin to shoot from the outside.  The game could’ve unfolded differently had those outside shots been hitting, but some nights all you get are bricks.

The game was very physical, and when Wisconsin had momentum building it was the fouls that would throw a wrench in it. There was no slowing down from the players, or the spectators for that matter. The game was fast, loud, and very fun to watch.

Final score was 88 BC – 71 Wisconsin.

teamsask bball copy u19 m bball 3 copy u19 m bball copy

 
story and photos by Armand LaPlante

warpath

The Warpath 2015 Tour made its stop in Saskatoon at Vangeli’s Tavern on Wednesday, viagra 60mg March 11 as it continues to move west. The tour brought through City Natives from the Maritimes, generic DJ Creeazn from Edmonton, and headliner Drezus. The title ‘Warpath’ is also the name of a single off Drezus’ latest album ‘Indian Summer’ released in the fall of 2014. Drezus also had a viral single entitled ‘Red Winter’ that became popular and made an impact during the height of the Idle No More movement.

City Natives, who are comprised of members Beaatz, IllFundz, Gearl, and BnE, also recently came out with an album entitled ‘Red City’, which motivated the first leg of the tour.

Despite being in the middle of the week, the performers drew out a great, mixed crowd who were enthusiastic and enjoyed every song from start to finish. While some all but compulsory political undertones were peppered throughout, the night consisted mainly of awe-inspiring, high caliber hiphop.

Beaatz of City Natives

2015-03-13_02_32_55

Indigenous Times: Tell us where are you guys from and how the tour came about.

Beaatz: We’re from the Maritimes, the east coast, from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. One of my members, Gearl Francis is from Cape Breton, the other three members, myself (Beaatz), and my other buddy IllFundz, we’re both from Tobique First Nation New Brunswick, and my other guy Blake Francis aka BnE, he’s from Eel Ground First Nation. We just all linked up as a unit to make what we have now City Natives.

How we got a part of this tour was we self-booked a tour for ourselves independently because we wanted to start the year off 2015 with a bang, with a statement, to say we’re really out here doing this and doing what we love -- we can do it. So we put together this tour and we contacted Drezus to get some west coast and to see if he was interested in being a part of it. The moment that we got at him he was more than interested. The moment that we brought him out to the east coast, we picked him up from the airport, and from the moment we met him till today we’ve clicked like family which has made this tour so much better for both of us as groups.

We self-booked this tour on behalf of our album, to promote our album Red City, and Drezus came out and did all the dates with us on the Red City tour and the moment that we stopped in Montreal we transferred over to Toronto and started a whole new tour called the Warpath tour, so this is the west coast side of the whole tour, so it works good, it’s really worked out.

Drezus

2015-03-13_02_32_26

IT: What was the inspiration for the Warpath tour?

Drezus: The whole inspiration was bringing light to Aboriginal voices out there that are pretty much unheard including myself on a global scale. The warpath is a metaphor for us going on the road and tearing down every show you know so it’s all part of the package, just being a warrior but also just putting on a quality show. [Performing] quality music and always be presenting yourself just making sure everything is 100 with the message and the music -- just going out there and actually delivering.

IT: Tonight the show brought out a mixed crowd (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal), is that how it has been throughout the tour?

Drezus: Yeah it’s trippy because some of the coverage I’ve been getting reaches a whole different audience, so some of the shows I got a whole bunch of natives, rowdy native guys and stuff, and then we have some people that aren’t native that are completely from a different world that are just drawn to, I think, the spirit -- the native spirit in me. I’m not even super spiritual or traditional or anything but I know I have a spirit within me that guides me, I know the basics, and I think they’re drawn to that.

IT: I know your latest album ‘Indian Summer’ is still warm off the press, but after the tour what’s on the horizon for you?

Drezus: I’ve been doing a lot more youth oriented projects and I feel like It’s my time to give back to the youth so I’ve been working really closely in the street and also even in the jails, at the detention centres and also at the shows. Even just in public.. I love the youth and I feel like I have to invest my time in them, and me just doing my thing too I think inspires them in a positive way but I don’t want to be rapping forever. Eventually I could see myself getting into some vocals, maybe even setting up a business for the family, just making it a career, something that I can feed my family with and also put on other people.

by F. P. Favel for Indigenous Times News

1996 Vigil
1996 Winnipeg vigil, decease Edee O’Meara,
Emily Rivers, Cheryl Edwards,
LannaMoon Perrin, Heather Milton-Lightening
edee
Edee O’Meara and her children

March 8, 2015, International Women’s Day was celebrated on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, by Anishinabe poet Edee O’Meara with family and friends in a small ceremony around a sacred fire. This fire was lit to honour a woman, Colette Schooner, Indian name Aluusta, a Bella Coola woman who had succumbed to cancer after a brave battle in which she had rejected White Man’s medicine. In her honour, fires were lit across the country at mid-day, including Poundmaker, a Cree Assiniboine community in central Saskatchewan. Aluusta was a 33 year old warrior woman eco-activist who, at the age of 12 to protect her people’s forest, stayed in a tripod she had built on a tall tree. Songs were sung and tobacco was burned for her, and for all warrior women past and present. The prayer extended to all of our mothers, sisters and daughters as well, as it takes a brave person to raise a family.

Edee O’Meara is Anishinabe from Lake St. Martin First Nation, Manitoba. She studied writing at the Enowkin International School of Writing in Penticton, British Columbia, and later became the founder of the Native Youth Movement which began in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has since extended to have many chapters across North America. In 2011 her home community of Lake St. Martin, Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba that left her landless and homeless, and she is currently working on a book that recounts this experience.
In March, 1998, Edee sat with Native Youth Movement and supporters to organize a vigil to honour and bring attention to all the murdered Indian women on this continent. This action ended up being named Anna Mae Day, in honour of Anna Mae Aquash, a Miqmaq woman whose body was found in South Dakota in 1976. The FBI had cut off her hands allegedly to send her fingerprints to be analyzed. The discussion around Anna Mae’s life, death, and after death was what sparked the discussions and led to the fire that was lit in the center of the intersection of Dufferin and King in Winnipeg’s north end. The north end, known as, the ‘low track’ where many Aboriginal people had ended up living with many social issues.

They were about 10 young people who created this vigil, one of the very first vigils for missing and murdered Aboriginal woman to take place in this country. The fire was kept going on a very cold night. There were no permits for this vigil yet police did not try and stop this event. The young people felt that permission did not need to be given to honour and sing for all the women that have been murdered with no justice served. “Nobody dared put our fire out,” Edee quietly reflects, “I remember Native Youth Movement worked hard and humbly to raise awareness of this issue. At that time we were able to compile a list of 20 missing and murdered Aboriginal women, these were women we knew or were aware of and at that time there were no databases or reports focused on this issue. Now there are lists and databases across the country and the names of the missing are now well into the thousands. This vigil was not a protest, there were no placards or signage of any sort, it was an honouring, a remembering by the sacred fire...”
This summer, 2015, Edee is planning to host the 20th anniversary and commemoration of Native Youth Movement. “More and more young people are looking to the older generation to lead them, to tell them stories, to inspire them as they move forward trying to help the future generations, that is why I would like to host a gathering sometime this summer.”

Her community, Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba to save the city of Winnipeg in 2011, and Edee along with 2000 other evacuees from other First Nations as well as Lake St. Martin were forced to live in hotel rooms in the city of Winnipeg. Red Cross is responsible for all evacuees’ accommodation and basic sustenance while they wait for home and a land base However, evacuees are not allowed to live, work, or study out of province or they lose their benefits, essentially making them prisoners or wards of the province. Chief Duane Antoine of Poundmaker has granted her symbolic refugee status which allows her the freedom and safety to work on her book in a safe quiet setting, away from her home province of Manitoba and she now divides her time between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Chief Antoine believes that this evacuation and the flooding of Edee’s Anishinabe people is an international and national issue and transcends any provincial jurisdictions or laws. This is an Indigenous Rights issue, as well as a human rights issue.

At present there is no immediate solution for her people and no one knows how long this evacuation, which was to last 2 weeks, which now is in its 4th year, will last. She is now working with a well-established publisher based in Halifax, Nova Scotia on a book she is writing which tells the story of this evacuation, this evacuation that has destroyed her community and caused great harm to her people. •

by F. P. Favel for Indigenous Times News
1996 Vigil
1996 Winnipeg vigil, healing Edee O’Meara,
Emily Rivers, Cheryl Edwards,
LannaMoon Perrin, Heather Milton-Lightening
edee
Edee O’Meara and her children

March 8, 2015, International Women’s Day was celebrated on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, by Anishinabe poet Edee O’Meara with family and friends in a small ceremony around a sacred fire. This fire was lit to honour a woman, Colette Schooner, Indian name Aluusta, a Bella Coola woman who had succumbed to cancer after a brave battle in which she had rejected White Man’s medicine. In her honour, fires were lit across the country at mid-day, including Poundmaker, a Cree Assiniboine community in central Saskatchewan. Aluusta was a 33 year old warrior woman eco-activist who, at the age of 12 to protect her people’s forest, stayed in a tripod she had built on a tall tree. Songs were sung and tobacco was burned for her, and for all warrior women past and present. The prayer extended to all of our mothers, sisters and daughters as well, as it takes a brave person to raise a family.

Edee O’Meara is Anishinabe from Lake St. Martin First Nation, Manitoba. She studied writing at the Enowkin International School of Writing in Penticton, British Columbia, and later became the founder of the Native Youth Movement which began in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has since extended to have many chapters across North America. In 2011 her home community of Lake St. Martin, Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba that left her landless and homeless, and she is currently working on a book that recounts this experience.
In March, 1998, Edee sat with Native Youth Movement and supporters to organize a vigil to honour and bring attention to all the murdered Indian women on this continent. This action ended up being named Anna Mae Day, in honour of Anna Mae Aquash, a Miqmaq woman whose body was found in South Dakota in 1976. The FBI had cut off her hands allegedly to send her fingerprints to be analyzed. The discussion around Anna Mae’s life, death, and after death was what sparked the discussions and led to the fire that was lit in the center of the intersection of Dufferin and King in Winnipeg’s north end. The north end, known as, the ‘low track’ where many Aboriginal people had ended up living with many social issues.

They were about 10 young people who created this vigil, one of the very first vigils for missing and murdered Aboriginal woman to take place in this country. The fire was kept going on a very cold night. There were no permits for this vigil yet police did not try and stop this event. The young people felt that permission did not need to be given to honour and sing for all the women that have been murdered with no justice served. “Nobody dared put our fire out,” Edee quietly reflects, “I remember Native Youth Movement worked hard and humbly to raise awareness of this issue. At that time we were able to compile a list of 20 missing and murdered Aboriginal women, these were women we knew or were aware of and at that time there were no databases or reports focused on this issue. Now there are lists and databases across the country and the names of the missing are now well into the thousands. This vigil was not a protest, there were no placards or signage of any sort, it was an honouring, a remembering by the sacred fire...”
This summer, 2015, Edee is planning to host the 20th anniversary and commemoration of Native Youth Movement. “More and more young people are looking to the older generation to lead them, to tell them stories, to inspire them as they move forward trying to help the future generations, that is why I would like to host a gathering sometime this summer.”

Her community, Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba to save the city of Winnipeg in 2011, and Edee along with 2000 other evacuees from other First Nations as well as Lake St. Martin were forced to live in hotel rooms in the city of Winnipeg. Red Cross is responsible for all evacuees’ accommodation and basic sustenance while they wait for home and a land base However, evacuees are not allowed to live, work, or study out of province or they lose their benefits, essentially making them prisoners or wards of the province. Chief Duane Antoine of Poundmaker has granted her symbolic refugee status which allows her the freedom and safety to work on her book in a safe quiet setting, away from her home province of Manitoba and she now divides her time between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Chief Antoine believes that this evacuation and the flooding of Edee’s Anishinabe people is an international and national issue and transcends any provincial jurisdictions or laws. This is an Indigenous Rights issue, as well as a human rights issue.

At present there is no immediate solution for her people and no one knows how long this evacuation, which was to last 2 weeks, which now is in its 4th year, will last. She is now working with a well-established publisher based in Halifax, Nova Scotia on a book she is writing which tells the story of this evacuation, this evacuation that has destroyed her community and caused great harm to her people. •
By Armand LaPlante
For Indigenous Times May 2014 Edition

RMCHANDS1

Ryan McMahon is a star, cialis bringing his no-holds-barred style of native humor and storytelling to the mainstream. Using an assortment of multimedia, pilule from live stand-up to podcasts and everything in between, Ryan has progressively innovated the comedy experience. His shows feature a mixed bag of routines, such as reading excerpts from his book “50 Shades of Pow Wow” -- his parodic take on Indian country and the adult novel 50 Shades of Grey.

Ryan has had many remarkable successes including appearing on the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montréal, and being the first native comic to a one hour comedy special with CBC called “Un-reserved”. Ryan recently recorded another one hour special with CBC called “Red Man Laughing” (also the title of his podcast) which is set to air this season.

I was very appreciative to sit down with Ryan before his show in Saskatoon at Louis’ and talk to him for nearly an hour; in that time it became apparent to me where a lot of his drive and motivators for change come from. Here is the interview.

Indigenous Times: First off, where are you from?

Ryan McMahon: I grew up in a small town called Fort Frances, Ontario, right beside Koochiching First Nation. Some of my family are from Minnesota, most are from Ontario side. My mom is Anishinabe, and my dad is Métis; I was born and raised in north western Ontario in treaty 3 territory.

IT: Your approach to stand up, how does being aboriginal affect that for you?

RM: It doesn’t. I wake up and I hear the news on the radio through one lens. I read the paper through that same lens. I experience the world through my own way of being, my Anishinabe worldviews. I’ve been asked to change that, I’ve been asked to not be a “native comic”. When I was at Just For Laughs, I was told it was detrimental to my career because I’m not visibly native -- I don’t fit that stereotypical role. I’m not going to get cast as a native guy at a comedy festival because I pass as white and I’m not going to get cast as a white guy at a festival in a mainstream festival because I’m native.

Unlike Don Burnstick or Howie Miller, these guys are visibly native; I’m in a grey area that is good and bad. I’ve been told by agents and management companies at Just For Laughs when I was being asked to go down to LA and NY to not mention it. They said ‘you bring it up in the first minute of your acts how you don’t look visibly native, so why do you talk about it? If you pass as white then why do you bring it up?’ it’s because I am who I am, I’m an Anishinabe and I can only be that.

I like to think my comedy can reach everybody. My audience when I tour is very mixed; a lot of people from other cultures come through. I like to make my material accessible to everybody but you’re still going to get my point of view.

IT: Have you ever been heckled before? Is it racial?

RM: I have yes. I’m writing a book called The Politics of Indian Comedy, that book is all about how when you come from a cultural community you need to be really careful because you work within a niche, and if you’re pissing off people within that niche, pretty soon your phone doesn’t ring anymore.. Pretty soon people don’t want to bring you to their community for an event because you don’t line up with their beliefs. It gets dicey, it’s ugly out there; it’s not easy to please everybody that’s in an audience.

There was a woman that was super drunk in the audience, she came up to me after the show and wanted to take a picture and I was like ‘I will take a picture with you and do what I’m supposed to do here but I want to tell you that what you were doing was not cool’.

She interrupted the start of the show.. Ten minutes into the show went onto her phone.. Told me to shut up. I want to be respectful but I have to tell you what the rules are. There’s nothing worse than an audience that isn’t paying attention. It’s my job to make you pay attention; it’s my job to be funny. But she thought she was helping, (in Ryan’s most annoying heckler voice): “I was trying to give you something to work with!”

One thing people should know about comedians is that we have a plan; we work really fucking hard to make sure we know what we’re going to say. We start at one place and we end up at another place, and we have a way to get from here to there for every show.

I work really hard to make sure I know what I’m going for so for hecklers (directly into the recorder): WE DON’T NEED YOUR HELP.. EVER!

IT: Indian Country recently lost the legendary comic Charlie Hill. Tell me about your relationship with the late Charlie Hill.

Charlie Hill was the dad I didn’t have. Charlie and I were supposed to be on tour right now. We had planned a tour called the Indian Medicine Comedy Review that was supposed to start in Seattle and end in Denver.

RM: Two years ago when he got sick we were in the road together in Wisconsin and he couldn’t eat anything. Anything he would eat would irritate his stomach; I think that’s when he first got sick. During his last couple of months.. I still have the texts in my phone.. I’ll probably never erase them, but we were texting and there was a point where he stopped texting back – he was too sick.

He was one of my best friends, a mentor, somebody that I really respected.

With Charlie, the pursuit of the art is something that really inspired me, and people like him, like Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman, Gordon Tootoosis, Buffy Ste. Marie, you look at all those artists from that first generation and how hard they worked to open up that door. I don’t think we can afford to sit back and be in our own little niche and collect our little cheques at conferences and do entertainment after mealtime at the drug & alcohol awareness conference you know? We owe it to all those people that came before us to do that -- to fight for our community and give our young people something to look forward to. To give them something to look up to […] we need to now stand up and show people who we are.

I think that’s what IDLE NO MORE showed us through the politics -- the whole world listened to us. BBC, Al Jazeera, CBS, NBC, everybody was talking about it which to me is positive proof that the world is waiting for us to tell them who we are. That means we as the artists need to keep pushing forward until we find that space and it’s going to take our people supporting us, us continually getting better, working hard, and I know there’s room out there for us.

So many people live in a rough way; I see it all the time. My greatest privilege in this job is travelling and I get to see a lot of amazing things, good things, but I see a lot of bad things too. I think these young people often don’t see that there’s a good life out there for them, we need to show them. The more of that space we take up and the more we get people to listen to us, the better off we’re going to be, because the time is now.

This is a really unfunny interview. (laughs)

IT: Well it’s important to get people thinking though once in a while.

RM: We don’t raise our people up enough. We’ve got this thing about “humility”, and it’s not even about jealousy or “crabs in a bucket” , I think that’s a small percentage, I think we just take things for granted sometimes, and that’s not a native thing that’s a human thing.

IT: Tell me what you got on the go ..

RM: I just recorded the new one hour special for CBC, it’s called Red Man Laughing, it’s a National radio special. […] The podcast Red Man Laughing, which is independent of CBC, is still going strong. That’s at www.redmanlaughing.com
I’m starting a media network, that’s my next project. It’s going to start as a podcast network, then we’re going to branch out to a full-fledged media entity like Vice, doing documentaries etc. The business plan is being done right now. It’s to create a platform for our content. I think they’re waiting to hear from us. If we start doing these documentaries, if we start supporting our artists by bringing them across the country, if we start selling merchandise, if they say 75% of our population is under the age of 40 and we are more educated than ever, I have to wonder where that disposable income is going.

We have to recognize that the system is broken […] It’s like a wild west all over again. Remember that cowboys and Indians shit where people were just planting flags all over the place going ‘this is where I live!’? That’s what we need to do on the internet and we have these young people that have nowhere to hang their hat right now -- writers, documentarians.

The time to build [the portal] is now, by just looking at the contacts on my phone, the people I know, there’s so much talent out there and so many of the artists out there working are just struggling to pay rent that we’re not in a position to promote excellence right now. We’re just surviving. So I want to build a platform that supports all of this work and really gets us to the next level.

[…] A multi-platform focusing on music, fashion, that kind of thing, and not being exclusive about it.. like you don’t have to be some famous native that’s been on APTN. Celebrity culture doesn’t belong in our communities; for my podcast Red Man Laughing I’ll have anyone from a Pow Wow singer, to an academic, to an artist, and anywhere in between. All voices need to be represented, I had a guy that just raises dogs, and that’s his whole job and he told me like an hour and 20 minute story about dog sledding in the north -- it’s the most listened to episode of my podcast ever. It gets probably 400 downloads a week just on that story about this guy raising these dog sledding dogs and it’s all about his connection to the land, an incredible story about being lost in the dead of winter on the great Slave Lake in the North West Territories and he thinks he’s going to die and he prays for himself.

All the stories that connect us back to the land which has given us our life. That’s what we’re all about as native people so we all have something to give, to add. and that’s why in the media company too the third pillar of that whole media company too is doing something that I’m calling legacy projects which is basically selling projects to communities in formation to go in there and do immersive storytelling, documentaries, language work, and getting it all digitized on a website for them. As our elders pass.. back home my grandma was the third last language speaker on my reserve and she passed in 2007, and there is only 2 left and a bunch of people went into kind of panic mode and started relearning the language. There is a big movement for it and so many communities now are in that exact same danger, that’s why that legacy project is important.

[Podcasting] is my thing, I beat my chest real hard about this stuff, but we should all be podcasting, we should all be writing, there should be no shortage of material it should just be fucking everywhere. Our generation is the first generation that’s free, we do suffer from the intergenerational effect of residential school, I have come from a family of addicts, I have my own difficulties in my life and many of us are still in that cycle but we didn’t go to those schools, we can do better, like my kid, I don’t have to pass any of that shit onto them, I’m big enough, I can hold that, I won’t give that to them so I think we’re all in the same spot, I think we’re all struggling to figure things out.

IT:  So comedy is a medicine right?

RM: I don’t know, I don’t buy it, cause in a sense, I think saying that really takes a lot away from us, you know “comedy is medicine”. We laugh to heal, healing is laughter and yeah that’s true but then so often when we say that, that’s where we stop talking, and I think that laughter is so much more especially for us as First Nations.

Yes, there used to be a way of storytelling and humour was so important to it.

Yeah, and laughter, the idea of the trickster -- Nanabush, Wesakechak, whatever you want to call him showed up in these stories, to teach us something. If you go down to Arizona they have their healer they say is like their jokester -- their tricksters. And you go to any indigenous nation they all have it; so wait a minute, why does everybody have this central character? It’s because we didn’t scold our kids the way they did, we didn’t do it that way; we had a different way of teaching and healing. I think with laughter, you have the whole cliché of ‘you go to a ceremony or a funeral and there’s more laughter at a funeral than anywhere’ because yeah we are healing each other we are making ourselves feel better right? When you go to a real serious sweat or something, that pipe carrier is teasing, everyone’s laughing and so it’s deeper than just laughter is medicine.. It’s who we are […] even old round dance songs from what I’ve been told were all about like laughter, and it’s all in the language but it was all about laughter and yeah there are ceremonial songs too. In general we don’t separate science from our lives, we don’t call it biology or ecology or geology, we don’t call it these things, so yeah I think it’s a lot more complex than laughter is medicine and we’re lucky because that’s innately who we are, it’s in all of us.
By Armand LaPlante
For Indigenous Times May 2014 Edition

RMCHANDS1

Ryan McMahon is a star, viagra bringing his no-holds-barred style of native humor and storytelling to the mainstream. Using an assortment of multimedia, from live stand-up to podcasts and everything in between, Ryan has progressively innovated the comedy experience. His shows feature a mixed bag of routines, such as reading excerpts from his book “50 Shades of Pow Wow” -- his parodic take on Indian country and the adult novel 50 Shades of Grey.

Ryan has had many remarkable successes including appearing on the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montréal, and being the first native comic to a one hour comedy special with CBC called “Un-reserved”. Ryan recently recorded another one hour special with CBC called “Red Man Laughing” (also the title of his podcast) which is set to air this season.

I was very appreciative to sit down with Ryan before his show in Saskatoon at Louis’ and talk to him for nearly an hour; in that time it became apparent to me where a lot of his drive and motivators for change come from. Here is the interview.

Indigenous Times: First off, where are you from?

Ryan McMahon: I grew up in a small town called Fort Frances, Ontario, right beside Koochiching First Nation. Some of my family are from Minnesota, most are from Ontario side. My mom is Anishinabe, and my dad is Métis; I was born and raised in north western Ontario in treaty 3 territory.

IT: Your approach to stand up, how does being aboriginal affect that for you?

RM: It doesn’t. I wake up and I hear the news on the radio through one lens. I read the paper through that same lens. I experience the world through my own way of being, my Anishinabe worldviews. I’ve been asked to change that, I’ve been asked to not be a “native comic”. When I was at Just For Laughs, I was told it was detrimental to my career because I’m not visibly native -- I don’t fit that stereotypical role. I’m not going to get cast as a native guy at a comedy festival because I pass as white and I’m not going to get cast as a white guy at a festival in a mainstream festival because I’m native.

Unlike Don Burnstick or Howie Miller, these guys are visibly native; I’m in a grey area that is good and bad. I’ve been told by agents and management companies at Just For Laughs when I was being asked to go down to LA and NY to not mention it. They said ‘you bring it up in the first minute of your acts how you don’t look visibly native, so why do you talk about it? If you pass as white then why do you bring it up?’ it’s because I am who I am, I’m an Anishinabe and I can only be that.

I like to think my comedy can reach everybody. My audience when I tour is very mixed; a lot of people from other cultures come through. I like to make my material accessible to everybody but you’re still going to get my point of view.

IT: Have you ever been heckled before? Is it racial?

RM: I have yes. I’m writing a book called The Politics of Indian Comedy, that book is all about how when you come from a cultural community you need to be really careful because you work within a niche, and if you’re pissing off people within that niche, pretty soon your phone doesn’t ring anymore.. Pretty soon people don’t want to bring you to their community for an event because you don’t line up with their beliefs. It gets dicey, it’s ugly out there; it’s not easy to please everybody that’s in an audience.

There was a woman that was super drunk in the audience, she came up to me after the show and wanted to take a picture and I was like ‘I will take a picture with you and do what I’m supposed to do here but I want to tell you that what you were doing was not cool’.

She interrupted the start of the show.. Ten minutes into the show went onto her phone.. Told me to shut up. I want to be respectful but I have to tell you what the rules are. There’s nothing worse than an audience that isn’t paying attention. It’s my job to make you pay attention; it’s my job to be funny. But she thought she was helping, (in Ryan’s most annoying heckler voice): “I was trying to give you something to work with!”

One thing people should know about comedians is that we have a plan; we work really fucking hard to make sure we know what we’re going to say. We start at one place and we end up at another place, and we have a way to get from here to there for every show.

I work really hard to make sure I know what I’m going for so for hecklers (directly into the recorder): WE DON’T NEED YOUR HELP.. EVER!

IT: Indian Country recently lost the legendary comic Charlie Hill. Tell me about your relationship with the late Charlie Hill.

Charlie Hill was the dad I didn’t have. Charlie and I were supposed to be on tour right now. We had planned a tour called the Indian Medicine Comedy Review that was supposed to start in Seattle and end in Denver.

RM: Two years ago when he got sick we were in the road together in Wisconsin and he couldn’t eat anything. Anything he would eat would irritate his stomach; I think that’s when he first got sick. During his last couple of months.. I still have the texts in my phone.. I’ll probably never erase them, but we were texting and there was a point where he stopped texting back – he was too sick.

He was one of my best friends, a mentor, somebody that I really respected.

With Charlie, the pursuit of the art is something that really inspired me, and people like him, like Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman, Gordon Tootoosis, Buffy Ste. Marie, you look at all those artists from that first generation and how hard they worked to open up that door. I don’t think we can afford to sit back and be in our own little niche and collect our little cheques at conferences and do entertainment after mealtime at the drug & alcohol awareness conference you know? We owe it to all those people that came before us to do that -- to fight for our community and give our young people something to look forward to. To give them something to look up to […] we need to now stand up and show people who we are.

I think that’s what IDLE NO MORE showed us through the politics -- the whole world listened to us. BBC, Al Jazeera, CBS, NBC, everybody was talking about it which to me is positive proof that the world is waiting for us to tell them who we are. That means we as the artists need to keep pushing forward until we find that space and it’s going to take our people supporting us, us continually getting better, working hard, and I know there’s room out there for us.

So many people live in a rough way; I see it all the time. My greatest privilege in this job is travelling and I get to see a lot of amazing things, good things, but I see a lot of bad things too. I think these young people often don’t see that there’s a good life out there for them, we need to show them. The more of that space we take up and the more we get people to listen to us, the better off we’re going to be, because the time is now.

This is a really unfunny interview. (laughs)

IT: Well it’s important to get people thinking though once in a while.

RM: We don’t raise our people up enough. We’ve got this thing about “humility”, and it’s not even about jealousy or “crabs in a bucket” , I think that’s a small percentage, I think we just take things for granted sometimes, and that’s not a native thing that’s a human thing.

IT: Tell me what you got on the go ..

RM: I just recorded the new one hour special for CBC, it’s called Red Man Laughing, it’s a National radio special. […] The podcast Red Man Laughing, which is independent of CBC, is still going strong. That’s at www.redmanlaughing.com
I’m starting a media network, that’s my next project. It’s going to start as a podcast network, then we’re going to branch out to a full-fledged media entity like Vice, doing documentaries etc. The business plan is being done right now. It’s to create a platform for our content. I think they’re waiting to hear from us. If we start doing these documentaries, if we start supporting our artists by bringing them across the country, if we start selling merchandise, if they say 75% of our population is under the age of 40 and we are more educated than ever, I have to wonder where that disposable income is going.

We have to recognize that the system is broken […] It’s like a wild west all over again. Remember that cowboys and Indians shit where people were just planting flags all over the place going ‘this is where I live!’? That’s what we need to do on the internet and we have these young people that have nowhere to hang their hat right now -- writers, documentarians.

The time to build [the portal] is now, by just looking at the contacts on my phone, the people I know, there’s so much talent out there and so many of the artists out there working are just struggling to pay rent that we’re not in a position to promote excellence right now. We’re just surviving. So I want to build a platform that supports all of this work and really gets us to the next level.

[…] A multi-platform focusing on music, fashion, that kind of thing, and not being exclusive about it.. like you don’t have to be some famous native that’s been on APTN. Celebrity culture doesn’t belong in our communities; for my podcast Red Man Laughing I’ll have anyone from a Pow Wow singer, to an academic, to an artist, and anywhere in between. All voices need to be represented, I had a guy that just raises dogs, and that’s his whole job and he told me like an hour and 20 minute story about dog sledding in the north -- it’s the most listened to episode of my podcast ever. It gets probably 400 downloads a week just on that story about this guy raising these dog sledding dogs and it’s all about his connection to the land, an incredible story about being lost in the dead of winter on the great Slave Lake in the North West Territories and he thinks he’s going to die and he prays for himself.

All the stories that connect us back to the land which has given us our life. That’s what we’re all about as native people so we all have something to give, to add. and that’s why in the media company too the third pillar of that whole media company too is doing something that I’m calling legacy projects which is basically selling projects to communities in formation to go in there and do immersive storytelling, documentaries, language work, and getting it all digitized on a website for them. As our elders pass.. back home my grandma was the third last language speaker on my reserve and she passed in 2007, and there is only 2 left and a bunch of people went into kind of panic mode and started relearning the language. There is a big movement for it and so many communities now are in that exact same danger, that’s why that legacy project is important.

[Podcasting] is my thing, I beat my chest real hard about this stuff, but we should all be podcasting, we should all be writing, there should be no shortage of material it should just be fucking everywhere. Our generation is the first generation that’s free, we do suffer from the intergenerational effect of residential school, I have come from a family of addicts, I have my own difficulties in my life and many of us are still in that cycle but we didn’t go to those schools, we can do better, like my kid, I don’t have to pass any of that shit onto them, I’m big enough, I can hold that, I won’t give that to them so I think we’re all in the same spot, I think we’re all struggling to figure things out.

IT:  So comedy is a medicine right?

RM: I don’t know, I don’t buy it, cause in a sense, I think saying that really takes a lot away from us, you know “comedy is medicine”. We laugh to heal, healing is laughter and yeah that’s true but then so often when we say that, that’s where we stop talking, and I think that laughter is so much more especially for us as First Nations.

Yes, there used to be a way of storytelling and humour was so important to it.

Yeah, and laughter, the idea of the trickster -- Nanabush, Wesakechak, whatever you want to call him showed up in these stories, to teach us something. If you go down to Arizona they have their healer they say is like their jokester -- their tricksters. And you go to any indigenous nation they all have it; so wait a minute, why does everybody have this central character? It’s because we didn’t scold our kids the way they did, we didn’t do it that way; we had a different way of teaching and healing. I think with laughter, you have the whole cliché of ‘you go to a ceremony or a funeral and there’s more laughter at a funeral than anywhere’ because yeah we are healing each other we are making ourselves feel better right? When you go to a real serious sweat or something, that pipe carrier is teasing, everyone’s laughing and so it’s deeper than just laughter is medicine.. It’s who we are […] even old round dance songs from what I’ve been told were all about like laughter, and it’s all in the language but it was all about laughter and yeah there are ceremonial songs too. In general we don’t separate science from our lives, we don’t call it biology or ecology or geology, we don’t call it these things, so yeah I think it’s a lot more complex than laughter is medicine and we’re lucky because that’s innately who we are, it’s in all of us.
By Armand LaPlante
For Indigenous Times May 2014 Edition

RMCHANDS1

Ryan McMahon is a star, find bringing his no-holds-barred style of native humor and storytelling to the mainstream. Using an assortment of multimedia, drug from live stand-up to podcasts and everything in between, Ryan has progressively innovated the comedy experience. His shows feature a mixed bag of routines, such as reading excerpts from his book “50 Shades of Pow Wow” -- his parodic take on Indian country and the adult novel 50 Shades of Grey.

Ryan has had many remarkable successes including appearing on the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montréal, and being the first native comic to a one hour comedy special with CBC called “Un-reserved”. Ryan recently recorded another one hour special with CBC called “Red Man Laughing” (also the title of his podcast) which is set to air this season.

I was very appreciative to sit down with Ryan before his show in Saskatoon at Louis’ and talk to him for nearly an hour; in that time it became apparent to me where a lot of his drive and motivators for change come from. Here is the interview.

Indigenous Times: First off, where are you from?

Ryan McMahon: I grew up in a small town called Fort Frances, Ontario, right beside Koochiching First Nation. Some of my family are from Minnesota, most are from Ontario side. My mom is Anishinabe, and my dad is Métis; I was born and raised in north western Ontario in treaty 3 territory.

IT: Your approach to stand up, how does being aboriginal affect that for you?

RM: It doesn’t. I wake up and I hear the news on the radio through one lens. I read the paper through that same lens. I experience the world through my own way of being, my Anishinabe worldviews. I’ve been asked to change that, I’ve been asked to not be a “native comic”. When I was at Just For Laughs, I was told it was detrimental to my career because I’m not visibly native -- I don’t fit that stereotypical role. I’m not going to get cast as a native guy at a comedy festival because I pass as white and I’m not going to get cast as a white guy at a festival in a mainstream festival because I’m native.

Unlike Don Burnstick or Howie Miller, these guys are visibly native; I’m in a grey area that is good and bad. I’ve been told by agents and management companies at Just For Laughs when I was being asked to go down to LA and NY to not mention it. They said ‘you bring it up in the first minute of your acts how you don’t look visibly native, so why do you talk about it? If you pass as white then why do you bring it up?’ it’s because I am who I am, I’m an Anishinabe and I can only be that.

I like to think my comedy can reach everybody. My audience when I tour is very mixed; a lot of people from other cultures come through. I like to make my material accessible to everybody but you’re still going to get my point of view.

IT: Have you ever been heckled before? Is it racial?

RM: I have yes. I’m writing a book called The Politics of Indian Comedy, that book is all about how when you come from a cultural community you need to be really careful because you work within a niche, and if you’re pissing off people within that niche, pretty soon your phone doesn’t ring anymore.. Pretty soon people don’t want to bring you to their community for an event because you don’t line up with their beliefs. It gets dicey, it’s ugly out there; it’s not easy to please everybody that’s in an audience.

There was a woman that was super drunk in the audience, she came up to me after the show and wanted to take a picture and I was like ‘I will take a picture with you and do what I’m supposed to do here but I want to tell you that what you were doing was not cool’.

She interrupted the start of the show.. Ten minutes into the show went onto her phone.. Told me to shut up. I want to be respectful but I have to tell you what the rules are. There’s nothing worse than an audience that isn’t paying attention. It’s my job to make you pay attention; it’s my job to be funny. But she thought she was helping, (in Ryan’s most annoying heckler voice): “I was trying to give you something to work with!”

One thing people should know about comedians is that we have a plan; we work really fucking hard to make sure we know what we’re going to say. We start at one place and we end up at another place, and we have a way to get from here to there for every show.

I work really hard to make sure I know what I’m going for so for hecklers (directly into the recorder): WE DON’T NEED YOUR HELP.. EVER!

IT: Indian Country recently lost the legendary comic Charlie Hill. Tell me about your relationship with the late Charlie Hill.

Charlie Hill was the dad I didn’t have. Charlie and I were supposed to be on tour right now. We had planned a tour called the Indian Medicine Comedy Review that was supposed to start in Seattle and end in Denver.

RM: Two years ago when he got sick we were in the road together in Wisconsin and he couldn’t eat anything. Anything he would eat would irritate his stomach; I think that’s when he first got sick. During his last couple of months.. I still have the texts in my phone.. I’ll probably never erase them, but we were texting and there was a point where he stopped texting back – he was too sick.

He was one of my best friends, a mentor, somebody that I really respected.

With Charlie, the pursuit of the art is something that really inspired me, and people like him, like Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman, Gordon Tootoosis, Buffy Ste. Marie, you look at all those artists from that first generation and how hard they worked to open up that door. I don’t think we can afford to sit back and be in our own little niche and collect our little cheques at conferences and do entertainment after mealtime at the drug & alcohol awareness conference you know? We owe it to all those people that came before us to do that -- to fight for our community and give our young people something to look forward to. To give them something to look up to […] we need to now stand up and show people who we are.

I think that’s what IDLE NO MORE showed us through the politics -- the whole world listened to us. BBC, Al Jazeera, CBS, NBC, everybody was talking about it which to me is positive proof that the world is waiting for us to tell them who we are. That means we as the artists need to keep pushing forward until we find that space and it’s going to take our people supporting us, us continually getting better, working hard, and I know there’s room out there for us.

So many people live in a rough way; I see it all the time. My greatest privilege in this job is travelling and I get to see a lot of amazing things, good things, but I see a lot of bad things too. I think these young people often don’t see that there’s a good life out there for them, we need to show them. The more of that space we take up and the more we get people to listen to us, the better off we’re going to be, because the time is now.

This is a really unfunny interview. (laughs)

IT: Well it’s important to get people thinking though once in a while.

RM: We don’t raise our people up enough. We’ve got this thing about “humility”, and it’s not even about jealousy or “crabs in a bucket” , I think that’s a small percentage, I think we just take things for granted sometimes, and that’s not a native thing that’s a human thing.

IT: Tell me what you got on the go ..

RM: I just recorded the new one hour special for CBC, it’s called Red Man Laughing, it’s a National radio special. […] The podcast Red Man Laughing, which is independent of CBC, is still going strong. That’s at www.redmanlaughing.com
I’m starting a media network, that’s my next project. It’s going to start as a podcast network, then we’re going to branch out to a full-fledged media entity like Vice, doing documentaries etc. The business plan is being done right now. It’s to create a platform for our content. I think they’re waiting to hear from us. If we start doing these documentaries, if we start supporting our artists by bringing them across the country, if we start selling merchandise, if they say 75% of our population is under the age of 40 and we are more educated than ever, I have to wonder where that disposable income is going.

We have to recognize that the system is broken […] It’s like a wild west all over again. Remember that cowboys and Indians shit where people were just planting flags all over the place going ‘this is where I live!’? That’s what we need to do on the internet and we have these young people that have nowhere to hang their hat right now -- writers, documentarians.

The time to build [the portal] is now, by just looking at the contacts on my phone, the people I know, there’s so much talent out there and so many of the artists out there working are just struggling to pay rent that we’re not in a position to promote excellence right now. We’re just surviving. So I want to build a platform that supports all of this work and really gets us to the next level.

[…] A multi-platform focusing on music, fashion, that kind of thing, and not being exclusive about it.. like you don’t have to be some famous native that’s been on APTN. Celebrity culture doesn’t belong in our communities; for my podcast Red Man Laughing I’ll have anyone from a Pow Wow singer, to an academic, to an artist, and anywhere in between. All voices need to be represented, I had a guy that just raises dogs, and that’s his whole job and he told me like an hour and 20 minute story about dog sledding in the north -- it’s the most listened to episode of my podcast ever. It gets probably 400 downloads a week just on that story about this guy raising these dog sledding dogs and it’s all about his connection to the land, an incredible story about being lost in the dead of winter on the great Slave Lake in the North West Territories and he thinks he’s going to die and he prays for himself.

All the stories that connect us back to the land which has given us our life. That’s what we’re all about as native people so we all have something to give, to add. and that’s why in the media company too the third pillar of that whole media company too is doing something that I’m calling legacy projects which is basically selling projects to communities in formation to go in there and do immersive storytelling, documentaries, language work, and getting it all digitized on a website for them. As our elders pass.. back home my grandma was the third last language speaker on my reserve and she passed in 2007, and there is only 2 left and a bunch of people went into kind of panic mode and started relearning the language. There is a big movement for it and so many communities now are in that exact same danger, that’s why that legacy project is important.

[Podcasting] is my thing, I beat my chest real hard about this stuff, but we should all be podcasting, we should all be writing, there should be no shortage of material it should just be fucking everywhere. Our generation is the first generation that’s free, we do suffer from the intergenerational effect of residential school, I have come from a family of addicts, I have my own difficulties in my life and many of us are still in that cycle but we didn’t go to those schools, we can do better, like my kid, I don’t have to pass any of that shit onto them, I’m big enough, I can hold that, I won’t give that to them so I think we’re all in the same spot, I think we’re all struggling to figure things out.

IT:  So comedy is a medicine right?

RM: I don’t know, I don’t buy it, cause in a sense, I think saying that really takes a lot away from us, you know “comedy is medicine”. We laugh to heal, healing is laughter and yeah that’s true but then so often when we say that, that’s where we stop talking, and I think that laughter is so much more especially for us as First Nations.

Yes, there used to be a way of storytelling and humour was so important to it.

Yeah, and laughter, the idea of the trickster -- Nanabush, Wesakechak, whatever you want to call him showed up in these stories, to teach us something. If you go down to Arizona they have their healer they say is like their jokester -- their tricksters. And you go to any indigenous nation they all have it; so wait a minute, why does everybody have this central character? It’s because we didn’t scold our kids the way they did, we didn’t do it that way; we had a different way of teaching and healing. I think with laughter, you have the whole cliché of ‘you go to a ceremony or a funeral and there’s more laughter at a funeral than anywhere’ because yeah we are healing each other we are making ourselves feel better right? When you go to a real serious sweat or something, that pipe carrier is teasing, everyone’s laughing and so it’s deeper than just laughter is medicine.. It’s who we are […] even old round dance songs from what I’ve been told were all about like laughter, and it’s all in the language but it was all about laughter and yeah there are ceremonial songs too. In general we don’t separate science from our lives, we don’t call it biology or ecology or geology, we don’t call it these things, so yeah I think it’s a lot more complex than laughter is medicine and we’re lucky because that’s innately who we are, it’s in all of us.
By Armand LaPlante
For Indigenous Times Newspaper June 2013 Edition

MC RedCloud

The setting is a loft on a warm  night in Los Angeles, abortion California on a lively night in May. MC RedCloud and Crystle Lightning, order the pair that make up eclectic, symptoms house, hiphop duo LightningCloud, are filming a new music video in front of a large green screen. The differing music styles of RedCloud and Crystle complement each other so well in this fresh new group; they have been referred to as the Red version of Bonnie & Clyde. During a short break at the video shoot I got to talk to MC RedCloud for a few minutes.

Armand: What is your video about that we’re shooting here right now?

RedCloud: It’s a fun song called Gravitron, me and Crystle [Lightning] wrote this track for the album. It’s a fire track and we always wanted to shoot a video for it and the homie Mitch Paulson came through with a cool, sick concept to do a green screen and make it look crispy. It’s just a really fun track, a lot of bright colours, a lot of fun.

Congratulations on winning Power 106’s “Who’s Next?” contest; that is huge! Tell us a little bit about that.

1600 artists in Los Angeles fought for the spot of “Who’s Next?” Battle of the Best and we beat everybody in LA. We then went on to beat the New York City winner, this cat named Radamiz, we took him out (in Austin Texas)-- destroyed him. We won $10,000, 12 hours of studio time, and a beat from the producer Timbaland.

Timbaland is world famous. It must be an exciting time in your career.

It’s a dream come true. Working with Timbaland is going to be something that we really needed as break-thru artists and being brand new; this is the beginning of something beautiful. And what’s cool is that we get to work with Timbaland right now while he’s hot. He’s really hot right now with the new Justin Timberlake album that’s all over the world and topping the charts. Working with him right now is insane; we have the beat from him and we’re writing to it right now. It’s going to be amazing.

This past year you Crystle Lightning came out with a new album called LightningCloud and it won best rap/hiphop album at the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Awards (APCMAs) in Winnipeg. The album had a new sound for you compared to your past work. What were you hoping listeners would sense when listening to the new album?

You know, people evolve, they move on, and they grow up. As a youngster I was a cold-blooded rapper – I still am – but as you get older your movements change and you grow up and mature. When I linked up with Crystle it was a mixture with her style which is a very electronic house vibe. It’s a marriage of two styles and that worked immediately and you see the results immediately. Stuff I couldn’t get done by myself for many years were done instantly with Crystle and Dj Hydroe on the scene.

This new LightningCloud is a whole new sound, a whole new movement, it’s really dope. And it won the best hiphop album of the year at the APCMAs ; that’s what set it off. We are super stoked; we didn’t think a little group from LA would be able to beat these groups that are from Winnipeg or from Canada. So it shows that the people speak.

How does being Aboriginal influence your music?

It’s always there, but people like me or like Joey Stylez who have found a pocket of success don’t necessarily have to cater our music specifically to Aboriginals. But being Aboriginal and being able to knock out some hits and being able to hang with the heavy hitters of other descents, that’s amazing. Being able to chart on top and having your people behind you, that’s automatic -- always having your people rooting for you.

That’s what Crytsle and I are working on; like once you start kicking ass in LA you see that your people have your back no matter what. It goes to show no matter where you go that’s the key to success. Being Aboriginal means that you’re original, you’re the first copy and what we make is the first of everything. Natives out there shouldn’t be trying to pursue being the native version of 50 Cent or the native version of Eminem, or the Aboriginal version of Waka Flocka; we are the originators, we are the first people so everything we do needs to be the First, we need to bring it back to that, and we’ve got a good team over here doing that: 1491.

Got any words of advice for the urban and on-reserve youth grabbing microphones and trying to get in the rap game?

There’s no better time in the world than right now to follow your dreams and to chase them down. Right now the tallest basketball player is a Chinese guy, the sickest golfer is a black guy, and one of the sickest rappers is a white guy. If you’re Aboriginal, there is no better time in the world than right now to blow up because everyone is getting a piece right now.

So to my youth and to my natives, no matter where you are in the world right now  ??  in the middle of nowhere  ??  there are outlets, there are pockets for success, there are ways to get your music out and there are ways to follow your dreams. Don’t let anything that you are hold you back, that is no longer an excuse. It’s 2013. If you’re dope you’re dope! Period.

by F. P. Favel for Indigenous Times News

1996 Vigil
1996 Winnipeg vigil, decease Edee O’Meara,
Emily Rivers, Cheryl Edwards,
LannaMoon Perrin, Heather Milton-Lightening
edee
Edee O’Meara and her children

March 8, 2015, International Women’s Day was celebrated on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, by Anishinabe poet Edee O’Meara with family and friends in a small ceremony around a sacred fire. This fire was lit to honour a woman, Colette Schooner, Indian name Aluusta, a Bella Coola woman who had succumbed to cancer after a brave battle in which she had rejected White Man’s medicine. In her honour, fires were lit across the country at mid-day, including Poundmaker, a Cree Assiniboine community in central Saskatchewan. Aluusta was a 33 year old warrior woman eco-activist who, at the age of 12 to protect her people’s forest, stayed in a tripod she had built on a tall tree. Songs were sung and tobacco was burned for her, and for all warrior women past and present. The prayer extended to all of our mothers, sisters and daughters as well, as it takes a brave person to raise a family.

Edee O’Meara is Anishinabe from Lake St. Martin First Nation, Manitoba. She studied writing at the Enowkin International School of Writing in Penticton, British Columbia, and later became the founder of the Native Youth Movement which began in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has since extended to have many chapters across North America. In 2011 her home community of Lake St. Martin, Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba that left her landless and homeless, and she is currently working on a book that recounts this experience.
In March, 1998, Edee sat with Native Youth Movement and supporters to organize a vigil to honour and bring attention to all the murdered Indian women on this continent. This action ended up being named Anna Mae Day, in honour of Anna Mae Aquash, a Miqmaq woman whose body was found in South Dakota in 1976. The FBI had cut off her hands allegedly to send her fingerprints to be analyzed. The discussion around Anna Mae’s life, death, and after death was what sparked the discussions and led to the fire that was lit in the center of the intersection of Dufferin and King in Winnipeg’s north end. The north end, known as, the ‘low track’ where many Aboriginal people had ended up living with many social issues.

They were about 10 young people who created this vigil, one of the very first vigils for missing and murdered Aboriginal woman to take place in this country. The fire was kept going on a very cold night. There were no permits for this vigil yet police did not try and stop this event. The young people felt that permission did not need to be given to honour and sing for all the women that have been murdered with no justice served. “Nobody dared put our fire out,” Edee quietly reflects, “I remember Native Youth Movement worked hard and humbly to raise awareness of this issue. At that time we were able to compile a list of 20 missing and murdered Aboriginal women, these were women we knew or were aware of and at that time there were no databases or reports focused on this issue. Now there are lists and databases across the country and the names of the missing are now well into the thousands. This vigil was not a protest, there were no placards or signage of any sort, it was an honouring, a remembering by the sacred fire...”
This summer, 2015, Edee is planning to host the 20th anniversary and commemoration of Native Youth Movement. “More and more young people are looking to the older generation to lead them, to tell them stories, to inspire them as they move forward trying to help the future generations, that is why I would like to host a gathering sometime this summer.”

Her community, Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba to save the city of Winnipeg in 2011, and Edee along with 2000 other evacuees from other First Nations as well as Lake St. Martin were forced to live in hotel rooms in the city of Winnipeg. Red Cross is responsible for all evacuees’ accommodation and basic sustenance while they wait for home and a land base However, evacuees are not allowed to live, work, or study out of province or they lose their benefits, essentially making them prisoners or wards of the province. Chief Duane Antoine of Poundmaker has granted her symbolic refugee status which allows her the freedom and safety to work on her book in a safe quiet setting, away from her home province of Manitoba and she now divides her time between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Chief Antoine believes that this evacuation and the flooding of Edee’s Anishinabe people is an international and national issue and transcends any provincial jurisdictions or laws. This is an Indigenous Rights issue, as well as a human rights issue.

At present there is no immediate solution for her people and no one knows how long this evacuation, which was to last 2 weeks, which now is in its 4th year, will last. She is now working with a well-established publisher based in Halifax, Nova Scotia on a book she is writing which tells the story of this evacuation, this evacuation that has destroyed her community and caused great harm to her people. •

by F. P. Favel for Indigenous Times News
1996 Vigil
1996 Winnipeg vigil, healing Edee O’Meara,
Emily Rivers, Cheryl Edwards,
LannaMoon Perrin, Heather Milton-Lightening
edee
Edee O’Meara and her children

March 8, 2015, International Women’s Day was celebrated on the Poundmaker Cree Nation, Saskatchewan, by Anishinabe poet Edee O’Meara with family and friends in a small ceremony around a sacred fire. This fire was lit to honour a woman, Colette Schooner, Indian name Aluusta, a Bella Coola woman who had succumbed to cancer after a brave battle in which she had rejected White Man’s medicine. In her honour, fires were lit across the country at mid-day, including Poundmaker, a Cree Assiniboine community in central Saskatchewan. Aluusta was a 33 year old warrior woman eco-activist who, at the age of 12 to protect her people’s forest, stayed in a tripod she had built on a tall tree. Songs were sung and tobacco was burned for her, and for all warrior women past and present. The prayer extended to all of our mothers, sisters and daughters as well, as it takes a brave person to raise a family.

Edee O’Meara is Anishinabe from Lake St. Martin First Nation, Manitoba. She studied writing at the Enowkin International School of Writing in Penticton, British Columbia, and later became the founder of the Native Youth Movement which began in Winnipeg, Manitoba and has since extended to have many chapters across North America. In 2011 her home community of Lake St. Martin, Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba that left her landless and homeless, and she is currently working on a book that recounts this experience.
In March, 1998, Edee sat with Native Youth Movement and supporters to organize a vigil to honour and bring attention to all the murdered Indian women on this continent. This action ended up being named Anna Mae Day, in honour of Anna Mae Aquash, a Miqmaq woman whose body was found in South Dakota in 1976. The FBI had cut off her hands allegedly to send her fingerprints to be analyzed. The discussion around Anna Mae’s life, death, and after death was what sparked the discussions and led to the fire that was lit in the center of the intersection of Dufferin and King in Winnipeg’s north end. The north end, known as, the ‘low track’ where many Aboriginal people had ended up living with many social issues.

They were about 10 young people who created this vigil, one of the very first vigils for missing and murdered Aboriginal woman to take place in this country. The fire was kept going on a very cold night. There were no permits for this vigil yet police did not try and stop this event. The young people felt that permission did not need to be given to honour and sing for all the women that have been murdered with no justice served. “Nobody dared put our fire out,” Edee quietly reflects, “I remember Native Youth Movement worked hard and humbly to raise awareness of this issue. At that time we were able to compile a list of 20 missing and murdered Aboriginal women, these were women we knew or were aware of and at that time there were no databases or reports focused on this issue. Now there are lists and databases across the country and the names of the missing are now well into the thousands. This vigil was not a protest, there were no placards or signage of any sort, it was an honouring, a remembering by the sacred fire...”
This summer, 2015, Edee is planning to host the 20th anniversary and commemoration of Native Youth Movement. “More and more young people are looking to the older generation to lead them, to tell them stories, to inspire them as they move forward trying to help the future generations, that is why I would like to host a gathering sometime this summer.”

Her community, Lake St. Martin First Nation in Manitoba, was deliberately flooded by the province of Manitoba to save the city of Winnipeg in 2011, and Edee along with 2000 other evacuees from other First Nations as well as Lake St. Martin were forced to live in hotel rooms in the city of Winnipeg. Red Cross is responsible for all evacuees’ accommodation and basic sustenance while they wait for home and a land base However, evacuees are not allowed to live, work, or study out of province or they lose their benefits, essentially making them prisoners or wards of the province. Chief Duane Antoine of Poundmaker has granted her symbolic refugee status which allows her the freedom and safety to work on her book in a safe quiet setting, away from her home province of Manitoba and she now divides her time between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Chief Antoine believes that this evacuation and the flooding of Edee’s Anishinabe people is an international and national issue and transcends any provincial jurisdictions or laws. This is an Indigenous Rights issue, as well as a human rights issue.

At present there is no immediate solution for her people and no one knows how long this evacuation, which was to last 2 weeks, which now is in its 4th year, will last. She is now working with a well-established publisher based in Halifax, Nova Scotia on a book she is writing which tells the story of this evacuation, this evacuation that has destroyed her community and caused great harm to her people. •
By Armand LaPlante
For Indigenous Times May 2014 Edition

RMCHANDS1

Ryan McMahon is a star, cialis bringing his no-holds-barred style of native humor and storytelling to the mainstream. Using an assortment of multimedia, pilule from live stand-up to podcasts and everything in between, Ryan has progressively innovated the comedy experience. His shows feature a mixed bag of routines, such as reading excerpts from his book “50 Shades of Pow Wow” -- his parodic take on Indian country and the adult novel 50 Shades of Grey.

Ryan has had many remarkable successes including appearing on the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montréal, and being the first native comic to a one hour comedy special with CBC called “Un-reserved”. Ryan recently recorded another one hour special with CBC called “Red Man Laughing” (also the title of his podcast) which is set to air this season.

I was very appreciative to sit down with Ryan before his show in Saskatoon at Louis’ and talk to him for nearly an hour; in that time it became apparent to me where a lot of his drive and motivators for change come from. Here is the interview.

Indigenous Times: First off, where are you from?

Ryan McMahon: I grew up in a small town called Fort Frances, Ontario, right beside Koochiching First Nation. Some of my family are from Minnesota, most are from Ontario side. My mom is Anishinabe, and my dad is Métis; I was born and raised in north western Ontario in treaty 3 territory.

IT: Your approach to stand up, how does being aboriginal affect that for you?

RM: It doesn’t. I wake up and I hear the news on the radio through one lens. I read the paper through that same lens. I experience the world through my own way of being, my Anishinabe worldviews. I’ve been asked to change that, I’ve been asked to not be a “native comic”. When I was at Just For Laughs, I was told it was detrimental to my career because I’m not visibly native -- I don’t fit that stereotypical role. I’m not going to get cast as a native guy at a comedy festival because I pass as white and I’m not going to get cast as a white guy at a festival in a mainstream festival because I’m native.

Unlike Don Burnstick or Howie Miller, these guys are visibly native; I’m in a grey area that is good and bad. I’ve been told by agents and management companies at Just For Laughs when I was being asked to go down to LA and NY to not mention it. They said ‘you bring it up in the first minute of your acts how you don’t look visibly native, so why do you talk about it? If you pass as white then why do you bring it up?’ it’s because I am who I am, I’m an Anishinabe and I can only be that.

I like to think my comedy can reach everybody. My audience when I tour is very mixed; a lot of people from other cultures come through. I like to make my material accessible to everybody but you’re still going to get my point of view.

IT: Have you ever been heckled before? Is it racial?

RM: I have yes. I’m writing a book called The Politics of Indian Comedy, that book is all about how when you come from a cultural community you need to be really careful because you work within a niche, and if you’re pissing off people within that niche, pretty soon your phone doesn’t ring anymore.. Pretty soon people don’t want to bring you to their community for an event because you don’t line up with their beliefs. It gets dicey, it’s ugly out there; it’s not easy to please everybody that’s in an audience.

There was a woman that was super drunk in the audience, she came up to me after the show and wanted to take a picture and I was like ‘I will take a picture with you and do what I’m supposed to do here but I want to tell you that what you were doing was not cool’.

She interrupted the start of the show.. Ten minutes into the show went onto her phone.. Told me to shut up. I want to be respectful but I have to tell you what the rules are. There’s nothing worse than an audience that isn’t paying attention. It’s my job to make you pay attention; it’s my job to be funny. But she thought she was helping, (in Ryan’s most annoying heckler voice): “I was trying to give you something to work with!”

One thing people should know about comedians is that we have a plan; we work really fucking hard to make sure we know what we’re going to say. We start at one place and we end up at another place, and we have a way to get from here to there for every show.

I work really hard to make sure I know what I’m going for so for hecklers (directly into the recorder): WE DON’T NEED YOUR HELP.. EVER!

IT: Indian Country recently lost the legendary comic Charlie Hill. Tell me about your relationship with the late Charlie Hill.

Charlie Hill was the dad I didn’t have. Charlie and I were supposed to be on tour right now. We had planned a tour called the Indian Medicine Comedy Review that was supposed to start in Seattle and end in Denver.

RM: Two years ago when he got sick we were in the road together in Wisconsin and he couldn’t eat anything. Anything he would eat would irritate his stomach; I think that’s when he first got sick. During his last couple of months.. I still have the texts in my phone.. I’ll probably never erase them, but we were texting and there was a point where he stopped texting back – he was too sick.

He was one of my best friends, a mentor, somebody that I really respected.

With Charlie, the pursuit of the art is something that really inspired me, and people like him, like Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman, Gordon Tootoosis, Buffy Ste. Marie, you look at all those artists from that first generation and how hard they worked to open up that door. I don’t think we can afford to sit back and be in our own little niche and collect our little cheques at conferences and do entertainment after mealtime at the drug & alcohol awareness conference you know? We owe it to all those people that came before us to do that -- to fight for our community and give our young people something to look forward to. To give them something to look up to […] we need to now stand up and show people who we are.

I think that’s what IDLE NO MORE showed us through the politics -- the whole world listened to us. BBC, Al Jazeera, CBS, NBC, everybody was talking about it which to me is positive proof that the world is waiting for us to tell them who we are. That means we as the artists need to keep pushing forward until we find that space and it’s going to take our people supporting us, us continually getting better, working hard, and I know there’s room out there for us.

So many people live in a rough way; I see it all the time. My greatest privilege in this job is travelling and I get to see a lot of amazing things, good things, but I see a lot of bad things too. I think these young people often don’t see that there’s a good life out there for them, we need to show them. The more of that space we take up and the more we get people to listen to us, the better off we’re going to be, because the time is now.

This is a really unfunny interview. (laughs)

IT: Well it’s important to get people thinking though once in a while.

RM: We don’t raise our people up enough. We’ve got this thing about “humility”, and it’s not even about jealousy or “crabs in a bucket” , I think that’s a small percentage, I think we just take things for granted sometimes, and that’s not a native thing that’s a human thing.

IT: Tell me what you got on the go ..

RM: I just recorded the new one hour special for CBC, it’s called Red Man Laughing, it’s a National radio special. […] The podcast Red Man Laughing, which is independent of CBC, is still going strong. That’s at www.redmanlaughing.com
I’m starting a media network, that’s my next project. It’s going to start as a podcast network, then we’re going to branch out to a full-fledged media entity like Vice, doing documentaries etc. The business plan is being done right now. It’s to create a platform for our content. I think they’re waiting to hear from us. If we start doing these documentaries, if we start supporting our artists by bringing them across the country, if we start selling merchandise, if they say 75% of our population is under the age of 40 and we are more educated than ever, I have to wonder where that disposable income is going.

We have to recognize that the system is broken […] It’s like a wild west all over again. Remember that cowboys and Indians shit where people were just planting flags all over the place going ‘this is where I live!’? That’s what we need to do on the internet and we have these young people that have nowhere to hang their hat right now -- writers, documentarians.

The time to build [the portal] is now, by just looking at the contacts on my phone, the people I know, there’s so much talent out there and so many of the artists out there working are just struggling to pay rent that we’re not in a position to promote excellence right now. We’re just surviving. So I want to build a platform that supports all of this work and really gets us to the next level.

[…] A multi-platform focusing on music, fashion, that kind of thing, and not being exclusive about it.. like you don’t have to be some famous native that’s been on APTN. Celebrity culture doesn’t belong in our communities; for my podcast Red Man Laughing I’ll have anyone from a Pow Wow singer, to an academic, to an artist, and anywhere in between. All voices need to be represented, I had a guy that just raises dogs, and that’s his whole job and he told me like an hour and 20 minute story about dog sledding in the north -- it’s the most listened to episode of my podcast ever. It gets probably 400 downloads a week just on that story about this guy raising these dog sledding dogs and it’s all about his connection to the land, an incredible story about being lost in the dead of winter on the great Slave Lake in the North West Territories and he thinks he’s going to die and he prays for himself.

All the stories that connect us back to the land which has given us our life. That’s what we’re all about as native people so we all have something to give, to add. and that’s why in the media company too the third pillar of that whole media company too is doing something that I’m calling legacy projects which is basically selling projects to communities in formation to go in there and do immersive storytelling, documentaries, language work, and getting it all digitized on a website for them. As our elders pass.. back home my grandma was the third last language speaker on my reserve and she passed in 2007, and there is only 2 left and a bunch of people went into kind of panic mode and started relearning the language. There is a big movement for it and so many communities now are in that exact same danger, that’s why that legacy project is important.

[Podcasting] is my thing, I beat my chest real hard about this stuff, but we should all be podcasting, we should all be writing, there should be no shortage of material it should just be fucking everywhere. Our generation is the first generation that’s free, we do suffer from the intergenerational effect of residential school, I have come from a family of addicts, I have my own difficulties in my life and many of us are still in that cycle but we didn’t go to those schools, we can do better, like my kid, I don’t have to pass any of that shit onto them, I’m big enough, I can hold that, I won’t give that to them so I think we’re all in the same spot, I think we’re all struggling to figure things out.

IT:  So comedy is a medicine right?

RM: I don’t know, I don’t buy it, cause in a sense, I think saying that really takes a lot away from us, you know “comedy is medicine”. We laugh to heal, healing is laughter and yeah that’s true but then so often when we say that, that’s where we stop talking, and I think that laughter is so much more especially for us as First Nations.

Yes, there used to be a way of storytelling and humour was so important to it.

Yeah, and laughter, the idea of the trickster -- Nanabush, Wesakechak, whatever you want to call him showed up in these stories, to teach us something. If you go down to Arizona they have their healer they say is like their jokester -- their tricksters. And you go to any indigenous nation they all have it; so wait a minute, why does everybody have this central character? It’s because we didn’t scold our kids the way they did, we didn’t do it that way; we had a different way of teaching and healing. I think with laughter, you have the whole cliché of ‘you go to a ceremony or a funeral and there’s more laughter at a funeral than anywhere’ because yeah we are healing each other we are making ourselves feel better right? When you go to a real serious sweat or something, that pipe carrier is teasing, everyone’s laughing and so it’s deeper than just laughter is medicine.. It’s who we are […] even old round dance songs from what I’ve been told were all about like laughter, and it’s all in the language but it was all about laughter and yeah there are ceremonial songs too. In general we don’t separate science from our lives, we don’t call it biology or ecology or geology, we don’t call it these things, so yeah I think it’s a lot more complex than laughter is medicine and we’re lucky because that’s innately who we are, it’s in all of us.