Wab Kinew Brings the Flash Mob 'Round Dance Revolution' to Strombo


Everyone's favourite 8th Fire heartthrob, Wab Kinew, surprised George Stroumboulopoulos and his CBC television studio audience—while making all of Indian Country proud—when he led a spontaneous flash mob round dance Thursday night, during an interview taping on George Tonight.

Impeccably clad in a dark grey Mad Men-styled suit, and singing a cappella while clapping out the beat instead of using a hand drum, Wab brought the #IdleNoMore round dance revolution into the living rooms and hearts of Canadians in all the right ways.

Posting photos and video on Instagram and Twitter after the taping, he added: "Let's share the beauty of our culture in a positive way. Miigwetch everyone!"

We couldn't agree more.

Here's the video. And what a great choice of song. Aho!

Wab Kinew Flash Mob Round Dance on Strombo - Jan 17, 2013

Now this is a rare moment in Canadian television. Wab Kinew is a First Nations leader and the Director of Indigenous Inclusion at the University of Winnipeg.

While he was in the red chair last night, Wab surprised the audience (and the crew!) by orchestrating an impromptu flash mob round dance in studio.

Catch the full interview with Wab on Monday, January 21st. He'll talk to George about 'Idle No More' and how all Canadians are treaty people.

Here's what Wab had to say about the round dance:

"You guys want to do a flash mob round dance?

This is what it's all about. It's been one of the most popular tactics of Idle No More and what it is, is a traditional dance, a friendship dance. So it's just about showing off our culture. So I notice I have a few sisters in the house today. Would you guys like to help show our non-indigenous brothers and sisters here how to do the round dance?"

Source: CBC.ca/strombo

The 10 Best Indigenous Musical Moments of 2012


‘Tis the season for looking back on the year that was: reflecting on the highs and lows, and seeing what music moments stand out in our memories. It's an interesting time for reflection, with all the hope and passion currently rising among our people, so let's take a moment to reflect on the incredible Indigenous music that found its way to us in 2012.

From new albums, EPs, and videos to standout performances and collaborations from all corners of Turtle Island and beyond, here are our Top 10 picks for the Best Indigenous Musical Moments of 2012—the songs we've been raving about and playing on repeat this past year and the sounds that stood out in our hearts, minds and ears.

10. Bear Fox x The 1491s, "Rich Girl"

It all starts with watching NAMMY award-winning musician Bear Fox, in collaboration with Bobby from Native comedy crew The 1491s, perform her song Rich Girl. The song touches on the issues of growing up in an Indigenous environment with very little in material wealth but having riches in culture and in the beauty of Indigenous life with family. Nothing like live and unplugged for some of the best musical moments:

9. NRG Rising, "From Darkness to Light"

"From darkness to light" is an apt description at this time of year as the hours of sunlight finally begin to get longer in the Northern hemisphere, and as our people rise up and unite. It's also the name of our next pick from NRG Rising, the New Zealand reggae band that features three powerful Maori women - a mother and two daughters - who create conscious, soulful work. We love this track.

Watch NRG RisingFrom Darkness to Light:

8. The Medics, "Foundations"

The Medics' Foundations was the much anticipated debut LP from one of Australia's brightest new bands. And it rocked. Percussive, passionate, potent. Turn it up and let it ride.

Listen to the opening track Beggars:

7. Skookum Sound System, "Nawala"

As individuals, vocalist/song carrier Csetkwe, DJ/producers Deano (Dean Hunt) and Impossible Nothing (Darwin Frost), and video artist Amphibian14 (Bracken Hanuse Corlett), have been honing their skills for years. But just over a year ago, these four artists joined forces to form the dynamic audio/visual collective Skookum Sound System. And the result is killer. The collective itself is one of our favourite "moments" of the year, but here's one particularly bumping beat for you to get into:

6. Thelma Plum, "Untitled"

It's been a breakout year for this 17-year-old Indigenous singer-songwriter from Brisbane, Australia. Thelma Plum's voice and writing exceed her years with a timeless quality that can transport you to another time and place. With only a few tracks available online, we're all waiting for more, but it's easy to revel in what she's already shared with the world thus far. We love this live, unplugged performance of Untitled:

5. Nick Sherman, Drag Your Words Through

In the rip your heart out in a good way category, the debut album from Nick Sherman, Drag Your Words Through, is rooted in folk/rock and full of earnest yet thoughtful and well crafted songs. They stick to your bones and Sherman's rich, textured vocals is a fine sound indeed. We've been spinning it all year long. Listen to the track Winterdark here:

4. Samantha Crain, "It's Simple"

Miss Samantha Crain started the year off great with the release her 7" single A Simple Jungle and no one's forgotten the two catchy tunes it was comprised of. Her indie spun americana vibe shines in the tracks It's Simple and Cadwell Jungle. It's been enough to keep us going all year and we're ready for her new album to drop in a couple weeks!

Watch the video for It's Simple:

3. Cris Derksen, "Pow Wow Wow"

There was no shortage of killer music videos on our screens this year. Cris Derksen (who we also tagged as an Indigenous Musicians to watch in 2012) has one of our favourites. As part of APTN's First Tracks program and with acclaimed Indigenous director Lisa Jackson at the helm, Derksen released this intergalactic, fancy dance-filled three-and-a-half minutes of pure gold:

2. A Tribe Called Red, S/T

Loved as much across Indian Country as nightclub dancefloors, the increasingly popular purveyors of "pow wow step" navigated the diverse musical landscapes of hip-hop, dancehall, moombahton and electronic styles on their eponymous debut full-length album and, having posted the entire record as a free download on their site, it spread like wildfire. As a collective, it's been an outstanding year for ATCR - we weren't kidding when we also included them in Indigenous Musicians to watch in 2012. And it's safe to say we can expect more big things from DJ NDN, Bear Witness and DJ Shub in 2013. They're just getting started.

If you don't have it already, you can still grab their debut album here:


1. The Round Dance Revolution: Idle No More

Of course, in the so-obvious-do-we-really-need-to-even-mention-it category, we couldn't possibly round up the best moments in Indigenous music in 2012 without mentioning the #RoundDanceRevolution that is currently underway across the globe under the banner of #IdleNoMore. Unless you've been living in a different universe in the past month, by now you've likely heard our peoples' words, songs, drums and dances echoing out from highways, railway lines, government buildings, and your local shopping centre to virtually every corner the Internet. And on the evening before the winter solstice, before one of the largest Indigenous mobilizations in recent history, Ryan McMahon eloquently brought together much of what was already racing through the malls and minds of our people across Indian Country: the revolution was starting—and this was its soundtrack.

As the round dances, stick and bone games, and other gatherings and song circles spread across the globe over the holidays, it's no wonder that Naomi Klein said: "The #idlenomore round dances taking over shopping malls during xmas rush r the most subversion actions I've ever seen #rounddancerevolution." But the spirit of the movement is not just subversive, it is joyful and creative—so it makes sense that, as we head into the new adventures of 2013, we look back on something that offers us an important and inspiring foundation from which to step into new beginnings.

Read Ryan McMahon's full post here: The Round Dance Revolution: Idle No More

And here's video of an #IdleNoMore New Year's Eve Round Dance in Winnipeg—taking over the main intersection of Portage and Main:

What a year! We can't wait to see what 2013 brings. See you at the round dance!

The Round Dance Revolution: Idle No More


Our guest contributor this week is Ojibway/Métis comedian—turned Idle No More organizer and activist—Ryan McMahon. He reflects on what it is about the rising #IdleNoMore movement that has captured our collective imagination, attention and revolutionary spirit. And how it's taken us from online discussion to a massive mobilization that is literally taking over hundreds of shopping malls, town squares and community centres across Turtle Island—and now the world.

This is the story of how we are reuniting our people through our songs, dances and cultures.

The Round Dance Revolution has arrived.

This was supposed to have been written days ago. When I was asked by RPM to do a guest post I immediately said, “Yes, I’ll write a guest post: Indigenous... music...culture...#IdleNoMore... Sounds great!" And I hung up the phone.

Then I attended the first Idle No More action in Winnipeg and when I got home that night I started writing. Sorta. It was -38 with the windchill that day - so - I think I drank tea for hours and sat under blankets, but, I’m trying to sound responsible here.


I wrote for a few hours that night. I wrote. And wrote. I heard typewriter keys in mind. Much like Hunter S. Thompson, I wrote. Sorta. Like Hunter S. Thompson. Well, minus the whiskey, the smokes and the drugs, so, not like Hunter S. Thompson at all, but, dammit, I wrote.

Now, full disclosure - at best, I’m a below average writer. My words, brain and fingers don’t connect. I can’t articulate myself very well in this medium (I’m writing two books by the way, I bet the publishers are stoked I’m saying this publicly) and I struggled to find a clear sense of what I was feeling.

But I knew I was feeling something. We all were. We all are.

The Idle No More Movement, the politics and the struggle, were providing me with mind-boggling confusion, anger, sadness and happiness. The fact that mainstream media were ignoring the movement as a whole, the fact that one of our strongest leaders is currently on a hunger strike and the fact that I felt like we were Tweeting and Facebooking into a vacuum...everything exasperated my frustration. I struggled to find something that hadn’t been covered yet, when the incredible Métis blogger Chelsea Vowel, my Anishinaabe brother Wab Kinew, and many other journalists and independent media were providing great coverage. So I struggled.

And struggled. No angle. Nothing interesting to say. Nothing informative to add.

Then, two days ago I decided that my piece was going to focus on 'Revolution Music'. I’d call on our Indigenous musicians and artists to find their inspiration in the movement to start building our soundtrack.

We have so much talent in our communities—some of the most exciting musicians on the planet are Indigenous, and I was excited about 'calling them to action'. I talked to many of my musician friends who are working on music right now and, although some are working on new music or have released new tracks recently—there wasn’t much of a story. It seemed like a lazy idea. Maybe it was too obvious. Too simple.

But then it happened.

The Round Dance Flash Mob Explosion

A Round Dance Flash Mob was planned and executed in Regina, SK. The next night a Round Dance broke out inside West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton (North America’s largest mall) during the busy Christmas shopping season.

Then round dances started appearing everywhere: Saskatoon, Ottawa, North Bay, Regina, Prince Albert...the list goes on and on. There are currently round dance actions, traditional song and game flash mobs, and other peaceful music-based actions planned across Turtle Island.

Just look at how many #rounddance posts there are on Twitter.

On Wednesday, we saw YouTube video surface of a group of native brothers and sisters from Minnesota singing the “AIM Song” in the Canadian Consulate office in Minneapolis. Incredible.

The round dance revolution.

It’s happening. Right?

The music revolution is happening. And thank God (if there is a God...c’mon, you know my deal with all that) it doesn’t look like Woodstock. Instead, it’s a beautiful, peaceful and inclusive action. We are being led by our drums.

It’s perfect. It’s accessible. It’s transportable. It’s cheap (hey, we’re on budgets, ya know).

And it's a whole new form of direct action, protest and resistance. As Metro News Saskatoon reported:

With flash mob round dances already occurring in Regina and Edmonton some...say the flash mob has become one of the more effective forms of protest....compared to traditional methods of protest, the flash mob is a more engaging and welcoming way to spread a message.

Why This Matters

We are the Indigenous Peoples of this land. We have held unique worldviews and cultural and spiritual practices for thousands of years. So many of these practices included drums.

As kids, we were told that the drum beat represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth. We were told our songs come from Mother Earth. We were told that our communities are only as strong as the sound of our drums.

Then “they” came. And many of our drums went silent. Completely silent. Our songs were banned. Torn from our lives. Forcefully. Violently. But, although they silent for a time, our old people kept their bundles. Some hid them. Some buried them.

Then, slowly, the sound of our drums re-emerged. They started to spread through our communities again. They signalled hope. They signalled our return.

Our drums were being used. And we began to gather again. We danced again. And our communities are slowly regaining their strength.

It's perfect. It makes perfect sense. A Round Dance Revolution. It has reinvigorated and re-inspired our People. It has lifted the spirits of thousands. The act of the “flash mob” can be called “Political/Guerilla Theatre” but it’s not politics in and of itself. It’s a glimpse into who we are. It is perfect.


One Heartbeat: December 21, 2012

At 12:00pm on Friday, December 21st, thousands will gather on Parliament Hill to drum sing and dance—while thousands more will gather in communities across Turtle Island for round dances, songs and prayers in support of all our relations.

IdleNoMore: One Heartbeat Across Turtle Island

Idle No More has called on all Nations to drum and sing across Turtle Island on December 21, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. Central Standard time, for a global synchronized Spiritual Awakening.

We want to honor and recognize the Drum as it represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth and the heartbeat of our people.

Indigenous peoples call on all people and nations to join us in solidarity in “One Heartbeat” through the Drum as we honor the ways of our Ancestors.

We have much to do to sustain this movement. We have long term and short term planning to get underway. BUT. If we need to #SoundtracktheStruggle: it's already here. Our songs remind us that we’re fighting for the land, our languages, our women, our children and for our lives.

Round Dance Flash Mobs That Have Happened To Date:

Regina, SK Edmonton, AB Ottawa, ON Regina, SK North Bay, ON Saskatoon, SK

Round Dance Flash Mobs Scheduled To Happen This Coming Week:

Sault St. Marie, ON Green Bay, WI Rapid City, SD Kamloops, BC Prince Albert, SK Duluth, MN Fort McMurray, AB Akwesasne Mohawk Territory North Battleford, SK Winnipeg, MB Victoria, BC Vancouver, BC Kenora, ON Moncton, NB Grand Prairie, AB Sarnia, ON Tempe, AZ Hamilton, ON Brandon, MB Burnaby, BC Richmond, BC Denendeh, NWT Halifax, NS Phoenix, AZ Seattle, WA Havre, MT 12/22 Billings, MT 12/22 Missoula, MT 12/23

Now the only question is: where will you be?


Ryan McMahon is an Ojibwe/Métis comedian, actor and writer hailing from Couchiching First Nation. He runs the weekly comedy and current Indigenous events podcast, RedManLaughing.com, and his comedy can be found at RyanMcMahonComedy.com

Ryan McMahon

Ryan McMahon is one of the most dynamic Aboriginal/Native American Comedians working in Canada and the United States today. He’s also a graduate of the prestigious Second City Conservatory (Toronto). His show is a loose, fast paced, silly but always honest look at society from the perspective of a “Native dude.” His breakout performances on “Welcome To Turtle Island Too – A Celebration of Aboriginal Comedy” (CBC TV/Radio, Corkscrew Media, 2010), and the “Hystereotypes” (CBC TV, Frantic Films, 2011) Gala television taping at the CBC Winnipeg Comedy Festival in 2011 led to his own one hour standup comedy special “Ryan McMahon – UnReserved” (CBC TV/Radio, Corkscrew Media, taped in June 2012). McMahon tours independently, selling out venues large & small, and his live show combines standup, improv, sketch comedy and weaves stories and characters into an original style of comedy he calls – INDIAN VAUDEVILLE.

Indigenous Music For The Holiday Season


We've been keeping our antlers tuned to the moccasin telegraph to bring you this great list of holiday music from some of our favorite Indigenous musicians here on Turtle Island. Enjoy!

First on our list of holiday music is Star Nayea, a pop/blues/rock singer based out of Seattle, Washington. Here she brings us a classic tune first introduced by ElvisPresley called Blue Christmas:

Next, check out Swil Kanim, a Coast Salish violinist, and his version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas:

Métis singer-songwriter Don Amero has released a 7-track Christmas album this year entitled Christmastime. Stream the songs and buy the CD or download at donamero.com/christmastime.

Choctow artist Samantha Crain from Shawnee, Oklahoma, recorder her holiday song Breaking The Ice for Christmas compilation Fowler Volkswagen Presents: A Blackwatch Christmas. Preview her track here, and head to fowlervwchristmas.com to download the entire album for free.

Lastly, we've assembled a festive YouTube playlist of holiday season videos for your Christmas enjoyment!

Track listing:

War Child - Twelve Days of Indian Christmas (Round Dance) Laura Burnouf - Little Drummer Boy (In Woodlands Cree) Jana Mashonee - Silent Night (Sung in Arapaho) Joey Stylez - Snow Angel J Dizzay - You're My Present

To view this playlist in YouTube click this link: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL67440DA5AF9FBCD2