American-Indian hip-hop artists debut in Ivy conference


Natives at Penn hosted the "the Council of Emcees"-themed All-Ivy Native Conference




This weekend, a council of American-Indian emcees shared their music at Penn.

Starting Friday afternoon, Natives at Penn — a student organization representing American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native students on campus — hosted the All-Ivy Native Conference, one of the two times of the year when the communities at all Ivy League universities get together.

The theme of this year’s conference was “the Council of Emcees” and focused on how hip-hop music has influenced American-Indian culture.

Natives at Penn brought in four hip-hop artists and one DJ — Frank Waln, Samsoche Sampson, Night Shield, Def-i and DJ Garronteed — to the conference to lead discussions about hip-hop music and how it can work with American-Indian culture. The conference culminated in a concert on Saturday night.

This marked the first time that American-Indian hip-hop artists have performed at Penn.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to bring in these artists from across the country to not only perform but to also be a part of the discussion of what it means to be a native hip hop artist” said Sean Massa, College sophomore and co-chair of Natives at Penn.

“Just being here and being around the students, they are just so down to earth,” Waln said. “It was really cool to perform for them and have them be receptive of my music and the message I was bringing, the change I am trying to bring about with my music.”

Each spring, the All-Ivy Native Conference is held at one of the Ivies across the East Coast. Its purpose is to help Native student groups from across the Ivy League meet and work together on issues in their respective communities and in the Ivy Native community as a whole.

The conference was first held at Penn in 2007 and provides a place for Natives to connect and learn about their own cultures, Talon Ducheneaux, College sophomore and Natives at Penn board member said, “[Natives at Penn] also puts on events such as this one … to help show other people what our culture is like not only from the past, but also today, how that connects.”

One of the main themes that arose this weekend during the conference was the idea of traditional versus modern music and the controversy that arises from the two different styles.

“We were hoping to get some good dialogue going on about what it means to be a Native hip-hop artist [and] how it’s perceived by traditional Native communities,” Massa said. “It’s an extension of Native culture in a contemporary period.”

Ducheneaux explained the clash that can arise for these artists.

“While some feel that it is fine to adapt and take on these new genres, other feel that people who do that are in essence turning their back on traditional music,” he said.

Students who attended the conference felt that it was a good chance to not only learn about culture but meet other Native students.

Meghan Banker, a freshman at Cornell University, said that it was a great chance to meet other Native students “and get to know people off of Cornell’s campus.”

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