Blackfire: Navajo Punk Rock Moshing for Mother Earth

Feb 7, 2011

Sibling explorers Ryan and Kassidy Brown are driving from Alaska to Argentina—in an old blue bus—in search of inspiring Gen Y changemakers. Follow their journey here.

In the past couple of webisodes, Journey of Action has delved into heated issues ranging from immigration to indigenous/human rights to environmental degradation. Underlying these issues is a status quo mutant capitalism that reeks of exploitation, corruption, income inequality, resource wars, and perpetual poverty, that worships “phantom” wealth instead of “real” wealth creation that benefits the masses.

Real wealth has intrinsic value: fertile land, healthful food, knowledge, productive labor, pure water and clean air, labor, and physical infrastructure. The most important forms of real wealth are beyond price and are unavailable for market purchase. We are all immigrants to this land. Our ancestors came here to escape religious persecution and corrupt governments that maintained rule by a few elite individuals.

I am frustrated that we have reverted back to the exact system that our ancestors fought so hard against. I am bewildered that everyday people are not up in arms over perpetual war, hard-earned tax payer dollars to bail out Wall St. and too-big-to-fail companies, and an unemployment rate that could be reversed if we ignited a green economy revolution via that bail out money and all the money we allocate to a war that is only about building an empire and swallowing up resources.

With issues like immigration, perpetual poverty and war, the environmental problems facing our planet, loss of culture and way of life for indigenous peoples—is it not time to step up and put on our big boy and girl pants and attack the root of the problems that confront us and not just symptoms? For example, why do people risk their lives and leave their communities and family behind to come to the United States and have absolutely no rights? It is my belief, and why I look forward to our Latin America portion of the JoA project, that we can learn from and apply many lessons from those that came before us and lived sustainably—in balance and harmony with Mother Earth.

Indigenous cultures have thrived because of harmonious relationships with nature and understanding that we are all interconnected. They inhabited the land well before us, and we drove them off of it and massacred them in the name of “Manifest Destiny.” In the process, we have created an empire and society not based on collaboration and equality, but one that is individualistic and unsustainable. In the U.S., we make up only 5 percent of the world’s population; yet we consume 25 percent of its resources. The top 1 percent collectively owns and controls the equivalent of the bottom 80 percent. How can we say that our model should be shared and replicated? Is this the best we can do?

We had the privilege of getting to know and to highlight Blackfire, which is a Navajo (Diné) tradition-influenced, high-energy, politically driven musical group composed of three siblings: two brothers and a sister. Their style comprises traditional Native American, Punk-Rock and “Alter-Native” with strong sociopolitical messages about government oppression, relocation of indigenous people, genocide, domestic violence, and human rights.

Blackfire decided to take up arms with music to spread awareness about their community's need for justice, respect and drastic change. Corporate-run media, a/k/a “mainstream media,” doesn't like to tell these types of stories, which potentially could effect an advertiser’s bottom-line or go against the status quo.

As you will see in the webisode, Blackfire are incredibly active and engaged citizens who taught us so much about our personal relationship to nature, respect for mankind, and how our ancestors deeply cared about what generations following them inherited.

What will the state of our planet be when our grandchildren inherit it?

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