by David Mendez
Apparently, today is a banner day for race-relations in this country.
A Tribe Called Red, an EDM group comprised of people from Canada's aboriginal First Nations, apparently has to deal with their white fans dressing in "redface" — as Indians.
For why that bothers them, we point you toward this interview with the Huffington Post and ATCR's Deejay NDN:
So what's the part about them that you and your counterparts are finding the most offensive? Is it the lack of specific nation represented, or is it that it's by non-First Nations wearing them, or something else?
Both and more. It's creating a false idea of what it means to be Indigenous today. It's "Pan-Indianism". It's robbing the First Nations of their nationhoods and nationality. It's making us all "Indian" instead of recognizing me as an Anishnabe or Ojibway. I'm NOT an "Indian". I'm of the Anishnabe Nation. Also, it gives the impression that Natives are something from the past. Not here today. If you were to think of an "Indian" you certainly aren't going to think of me, tattooed in a hoodie with a Sens cap on. We, as First Nation people, have never had control of our image in colonial media since its birth.
But you use the name "Deejay Ndn", and your act is called "A Tribe Called Red". Do you use those names as a type of sarcasm?
"A Tribe Called Red" we came up specifically to appeal to both Natives on the Rez and to the Urban Aboriginals. "A Tribe Called.." has been used for years by different drum groups and Nations on letterman jackets and such. [i.e. A Tribe Called Mi'kmaq] So we knew the term would be recognized by Natives in rural and isolated communities as well as the obvious "A Tribe Called Quest" reference to the First Nations in urban settings.
Right, but you say that you're "not an Indian" but your moniker is Deejay Ndn.
"NDN" is a spelling for "Indian" that I have only seen used by Indigenous youth. It was also something that would be recognizable to rural FN youth and urban FN youth. Like Keith Secola's anthem "NDN Car."
So it's reclamation of the word? Like "queer" or "nigga"?
NDN also stands for "Never Die Native" which is in retaliation for "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." It can be seen as a reclamation. I prefer to use the term "decolonization."
Now's probably a good time to note that we've been dealing with a similar Native naming issue in the States as of late, regarding the name of the Washington Redskins, who (incredibly humorously) hopefully unknowingly brought aboard a fake "chief" to talk about how the Redskins name doesn't bother him while the rest of the country shouts down at them to change their name because it's 2013 and having a team name like the Redskins is not unlike having a team called the Beaners, Coons, or Cracker-Ass Crackers running around.