Sina Bear Eagle and Aden Marshall


Sina Bear Eagle and Aden Marshall

If you had asked Sina Bear Eagle or Aden Marshall, hosts of AIROS Native Network’s radio show,Native Sounds-Native Voices, about Native American music almost a year ago, their answer would be limited.

Since the pair began hosting the show in September, the two, both college students in Lincoln, Neb., have been exposed to many unexpected sub-genres under the Native music umbrella including punk, rap, and even polka.

“I knew mostly powwow groups. I wasn’t familiar with the more contemporary stuff,” said Bear

Eagle, 23, Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. But the University of Nebraska-Lincoln student said she did know of Native artists like Keith Secola and Jackie Bird whose tunes streamed from the local radio station on a regular basis.

Marshall, 20, a community college student of Rosebud Sioux heritage, wanted to be cautious of including just one type of Native music–the stereotypically Native kind.

Last week the pair played a segment of waila, a genre of polka-esque music from the Akimel and Tohono O’odham Nations in the Southwest.

“It’s really interesting to discover this kind of stuff exists,” Bear Eagle said.

“We kinda like steered away from the traditional flute music, New Age,” Marshall said. “You see that on TV shows a lot too. Some old wise guy, wise person and there’ll be a flute in the background. You see it all the time.”

The two share a laugh. A common ease and friendship have emerged between them since taking over the show for longtime AIROS manager and former Native Radio Theater project coordinator John Gregg Sr. (Hopi/Inupiat) last year. Gregg revived the show on Valentine’s Day in 2008 and Bear Eagle and Marshall took the reigns of the show after Gregg left NAPT/AIROS in August.

Created in 1997, the original Native Sounds-Native Voices was a daily, one-hour show that featured not only new and established musicians but shared cultural elements about the artists. AIROS managers created Native Sounds-Native Voices after searching for a way to generate more Native American content for stations.

Now early every Thursday morning the new hosts pack into a small studio room in downtown Lincoln where they unload the list of music they prepared the week earlier. Some of the music they get comes from people who send it in—the rest they find on their own online.

After countless hours of listening to Native music at home and at work, the duo has a few favorites like Red Earth, a Native ska band, and Lunar Drive, a techno/trance group. In playing such bands, they hope to refute the commonly held notions of Native music.

“I like to show that there are modern artists and they can play cool stuff,” Bear Eagle said.

Their boss Eric Martin, interactive media specialist at NAPT who oversees AIROS, explains that the show’s main listeners are Native women in their 50s. He hopes Bear Eagle and Marshall can help attract a younger audience.

“We figured the best way to attract a younger audience was to have younger media makers involved. Their point of view has impacted our live stream programming, our website and even how we reach out to our viewers and listeners,” he said.

Martin explained that for the show to get a wider audience, they need greater distribution. He has been pursuing syndication on Native Voice One, or NV1, which distributes programming through the Public Radio Satellite System to the 33 tribal radio and public radio stations throughout the United States.

Martin said he hopes audiences will become more active online with “our blogs, forums or even uploading their own media and sharing their stories with others. We also hope that we will be able to connect with people who are interested in Native programming, who listen to Native programming on their local stations, and inform them of our other media offerings on public television and the web.”

Both Bear Eagle and Marshall are excited at the prospect of syndication because they enjoy what they do so much and sharing it with their audience.

“Native music needs more exposure,” Bear Eagle said. “There’s a lot of really good music out there, contemporary music and traditional music. But you don’t really hear that a lot anywhere.”

“I think that’s what important about our show,” Marshall added. “We play music that people haven’t heard of. And I think that’s why we’re important.

“Not to have a big head or anything,” he said.

By Nancy Kelsey

SAY Magazine
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