Do you know how rare and exciting this moment is? A mainstream music artist used Native influences in her music video, and I HAVE NOTHING NEGATIVE TO SAY!!!! Yesterday Nelly Furtado debuted her new music video for Big Hoops (The Bigger the Better), featuring the awesome hoop dancing of Tony and Kevin Duncan (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara/San Carlos Apache) and the fancy shawl stylings of Violet Duncan (Cree/Taino).
Basically, this is going to go down in history as my example of how to incorporate Natives without crossing the line into cultural appropriation. So check out the video below, and we’ll talk more after you get a chance to see how great it is:
(Vevo is mean about embedding, so you might have to go watch it on the youtubes, los siento)
What I like about the video is that Nelly just let the Duncans do their thing and show off what amazing dancers they are without having to fit into some overly constructed storyline. Chatting with some twitter friends last night, we remarked that it was also notable that Nelly didn’t feel the need to “go Native” like say, Ke$ha, with her styling for the shoot.
You know how I enjoy things that converge tradition and modernity, so this is right up my alley. So far the video has 42,000 views on YouTube, so 42,000 people have seen Native folks representing themselves, showing off their skillz, not painted up with a bird on their head. These are the kind of representations I’d like to see on a more regular basis.
Even better, Nelly introduced Tony, Violet, and Kevin in her “behind the scenes” clip in April–further solidifying that they weren’t just backdrops for her song, they were co-collaborators. She notes that she “has the privilege” to work with them, and hammers home that they are “world champions.” She also let them introduce themselves and talk a little bit more about what their dancing represents:
Pretty cool, right? Nelly is Canadian, and all of this reminded me of the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremonies, where she performed. I covered it back in the early days of my blog (when I first learned how to screen shot!), but here she is singing with all the First Nations dancers surrounding her:
And during the song they did “spotlight dances” on hoop dancers, fancy dancers, etc:
So clearly she’s no stranger to appreciating the awesomeness of Native dancers.
Finally, an “inside source” (love how everyone is related in Indian Country–my colleague is their cousin) told me that the Duncans will be performing with Nelly at the Billboard Music Awards May 20th, along with several other hoop dancers (7 total). Yay!
So guys, for all of you that email me all the time and say that I must have such a sad and miserable existence finding fault in absolutely everything, let it be known: Adrienne K. likes this video, and has nothing negative to say about it!! Apparently I am human, not a society-hating-automaton programmed to spit out criticism. ha.
(Thanks Jessica, Sarah, Frances, Jason, and everyone else who sent it over!)
YouTube: Big Hoops (the Bigger the Better)
YouTube: Behind the scenes of Big Hoops, Chapter 1
Yellowbird Dancers (The Duncan’s Dance group)
Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremonies: Honoring Canadian First Nations?
Not Again, Ke$ha
PS- It’s the end of the semester for me, which = grading and busy times galore. I have a lot I want to write about in regards to Elizabeth Warren, more on Tonto, and all the ugly hate I’ve been getting in the last two weeks, but it’ll have to wait. Hope you can forgive me! Much Love!