Who Knew? Native American Pop Music Thrives in Wisconsin

As I edit health articles from the family cabin in Wisconsin, I’ve been listening to WOJB, a public radio station here in the Northwoods that plays almost entirely Native American pop music. What does that sound like? Basically, New Age music with chanting (“hey-ya, hey-ya, hey-hey-ya”), bird chirps, flutes and synthesizers. Yet the lyrics are affirmative and proud. It’s extremely relaxing.

Every once in a while, a more contemporary song is thrown in, like “Heartless” by Heart (that girl-duo band from the 80s best known for the song “Barracuda,” and the power ballad “Crazy on You.”)

Some lyric examples:

Beautiful Indian girl, dancing so free, with such grace and such ease, makes me proud to be who I am: A woman native to this land.”

Holding hands they left Turtle Island, and now we are sad and lonely, we miss our children of the stars. They sparkle, they shine…lighting up the northern sky. We wish upon a falling star — tell us who we are.”

“[Ojibwa word that sounds like “yellow”] We offer thanks to all the living things: water, animals and trees. The sun, the stars, and thunder-things.”

[long a capella chant-song]

Thunderstorms and lightning, mystic spirits all around, and the rain is falling on the ground. All the heroes gone, and this pain lingers on, I know I must be strong: Great spirit hear my song.”

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