Our ancestors have told oral stories for thousands of years, passing down culture and wisdom from generation to generation.
Native hip hop is the new form of that tradition.
Poet and hip hop artist Christie Lee Charles (aka Miss Christie Lee) brought her ancient Musqueam creation stories to life on stage in Coast Salish territory, Vancouver, and the crowd applauded in excitement with every verse.
“This is just who I am, first lady of the silver sand. I emerge from the land with a rattle in my hand!”
Christie’s lyrics are fierce, powerful and above all else, cultural.
“It’s just really being raw,” she explained outside, “talking to the craziness that Canada has put upon us.”
Her lyrics also reflect the hard truths faced by her family and many other First Nations families.
“I’m a direct effect of generational genocide, I represent the bodies that you hide.”
Christie is a multi-generational survivor of the residential school system, which means that she carries the pain of her parents and grandparents generations who were abused in school as children.
“I actually have about 5 or 6 aunties and uncles who went to residential school and they never came back. So our people died there. So that’s what I’m talking about when I say I represent the bodies that you hide because there’s mass graves everywhere,” she said.
“We lost culture, we lost history and they took everything away from us.”
Now Christie is taking everything back.
Reclaiming language, culture and identity is something many young First Nations people are striving towards today. Christie joins other Indigenous hip hop artists like Drezus, Mob Bounce, JB the First Lady, Chief Rock and many others who are keeping ancient culture alive by making it their own in the modern age.
“I still live off the land. I still take my kids to the beach and teach them our culture,” she said.
Check out Christie’s music on her soundcloud page here.
Trevor Jang is a reporter for Roundhouse Radio in Vancouver.