I felt it was important for this “New Journey” to begin with a solid foundation in traditional Haida music — rather than beginning with a western or pop music base and adding Haida words or vocables. Throughout aboriginal peoples’ history in Canada, our culture, our songs, our ways of being, and use of and connection to the lands and resources have come last, or alternatively, we must feed into, add to, or become part of the dominant culture — all while efforts were made to suppress language, ceremonies, values and beliefs.
While the songs on the CD are mostly contemporary songs, they are in a traditional format. For instance, some of the songs contain only three notes (which is true for many ancient Haida songs) and yet they hold your attention. They sit beautifully with the arrangements. I felt it was important for the songs to remain in the Haida language. There are so few Haida speakers remaining that the language is endangered. Like other indigenous languages, the Haida language and therefore these songs, contain insights into a different way to living with the land, with each other, and with one’s own being. Like other spiritual music, it is my hope that this music will help to facilitate positive growth.
I recognize that the majority of today’s society doesn’t yet recognize the beauty and pureness of First Nations’ music traditions, or its ability to touch the core of your heart in a very unique way and open doors to whole new realms. T. Bone Burnett once told me, after he heard a Haida song, that he felt that the truth could be found in native songs, or folk songs.
Creating a CD that bridges two cultures and helps people of different backgrounds to connect with each other reflects the current need in Canadian society to reach reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples. This step is part of a larger movement to work together respectfully and reach long-lasting reconciliation of Canada’s history with Aboriginal Peoples. Great trust is required for this to occur, on all sides! Art is a beautiful arena to work together, with great potential to build lasting bridges of reconciliation between us. I hope this is the first step of many together.
JACK LITRELL PHOTO