Navajo Band Teaches
Native American Youth How To Write Their Own Songs, Overcome Obstacles
by Joseph Erbentraut
- The Huffington Post
In the eyes of brother-and-sister duo Sihasin, music is a powerful
tool with the potential to transform lives -- or thats their
hope, at least.
and Clayson Benally of Sihasin
The Arizona band, comprised of Jeneda and Clayson Benally, plays
an unusual brand of music thats difficult to classify: it
incorporates electric bass and modern drums with sounds more typical
of their background, growing up as the children of a traditional
medicine man in the Navajo Nation. Their father, Jones Benally,
sings on some of their songs, which also harken back to their punk
roots from their former band,
We fuse our traditional songs into contemporary techniques,
explained to Indian County, a Native news website, earlier this
year. It's hard to describe. For us, it's a form of communication.
Sihasin is Navajo for 'hope.' It's part of our philosophical foundation."
NPR reports the band teaches Native American youth how to write
songs that help them express themselves, especially during difficult
times. This is particularly meaningful as American Indian youth
have disproportionately low graduation rates and are at high risk
of suicide, according to the Center
for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute.
The band also recently spoke at a Navajo high schools
graduation, telling the students, according to NPR, "You carry
our hope, you carry our future within you. I don't want you to feel
burdened by that. I want you to feel empowered by that."
In addition to offering a message of hope to American Indian
youth, the band is also optimistic that their music is helping to
break down the stereotypes of what Native American music is, and
what it isn't.
"I think in terms of representing our Native American heritage,
we have to utilize every single modern tool possible," Jeneda
told RYOT, a cause-based news website, this year. "Its
not only about allowing people to see us telling our story, but
its also about cultural survival."
Watch Sihasin's video for "Take a Stand," released
Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native
America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber
or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may
contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions
for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed
without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest.
This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.