nêhiyawak -"open window" (Arts & Crafts): This trio of indigenous artists hails from amiskwaciy in Treaty 6 Territory. Yesterday (Nov. 27), the group released an EP, Starlight, and shared this track. The unconventional release date was chosen to mark the date in 1885 when eight leaders of indigenous nations were hung at Fort Pitt.
The theme of the wrongs done to indigenous people permeates the EP, including "open window."
Singer/guitarist Kris Harper explains in a label press release that "the lyrics reference The Sixties Scoop as well as the concepts portrayed in the model of the residential school system. Our parents begin the song with spoken word. We have them each speak their mother tongue and say what they felt like needed to be said. More than anything, this message is one of learning and acceptance. Something to help others feel connected by experience, but also encouraged toward personal growth and learning."
While the song's subject may be rooted in history, the nêhiyawak sound is decidedly contemporary. The spoken word intro is framed by atmospheric sonics, and Harper then takes over with lyrics in English, delivering such poignant lines as "I always wondered what had happened to those mother tongues that were all kept inside."
Producer Colin Stewart (The New Pornographers, Black Mountain) balances the elements with finesse.
nêhiyawak have shows at Toronto's Baby G tonight (Nov. 28) and Montreal's Casa Del Popolo on Thursday.
Publicity: Ken Beattie, Killbeat