Reviving Native Music

April 20, 2009

Author: Jeff Lee

Source: Vancouver Sun

For more than 100 years, Christian priests in the North banned Inuit women from practising the ancient art of throat-singing.

As were many aspects of aboriginal culture and customs, the guttural, rhythmic duets by the women of the North were in danger of being forgotten.

But now, with the help of the Vancouver-area Four Host First Nations, throat-singing and a lot of other native songs are literally about to ring out all over the world.

The Four Host First Nations (FHFN) secretariat represents the four bands upon whose traditional territory the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games are being held.

Later this month, the FHFN will upload onto its website several electronic files of Inuit throat-singers that people can download as ring tones for their mobile phones.

It's not just Inuit songs that will be available.

The lyrical fiddle jigs of the Metis, drums of British Columbia First Nations, ceremonial songs of the Cree, and even contemporary aboriginal blues and rock 'n' roll will be available as ring tone downloads.

The idea is the brainchild of Tewanee Joseph, executive director of the FHFN, and several others who see the unique ring tones as a way of bridging the divide between centuries of aboriginal traditions and youth growing up in a technology-driven world.