A group of indigenous artists, poets and hip-hop performers, dubbed the Dream Warriors paid a visit to Ignacio, Colo., and presented at Ignacio High School and Ignacio Middle School on Thursday, Sept. 7. The group’s inspirational performances are filled with music, spoken word and heartfelt lessons derived from their own personal experiences. Founded by author and motivational speaker, Tanaya Winder, who is Duckwater Shoshone, Southern Ute, and Pyramid Lake Paiute, the Dream Warriors appearance in Ignacio, was inevitable. Winder grew up in Southwest, Colo. and considers the Southern Ute Reservation her home.
“There is no place like the place we come from,” Frank Waln said. Waln is a Sicangu Lakota Hip Hop artist, producer, and performer from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He preformed a song that was written for his mother, “This song comes from my tribe’s creation story.”
Each of the artists worked together throughout their performances to deliver meaningful words, and well crafted duets, born out of hardship and the desire to share, and empower others. “Shyness, anger, a sense of abandonment…music helped me to process these feelings,” Waln said, when addressing students at Ignacio’s Middle School. “It’s ancestral to us, listening and telling stories.”
“I wanted to learn more about who I wanted to be in the world.” Winder said. “I wouldn’t be who I am if I hadn’t grown up in Ignacio — where you come from shapes you.”
Winder currently runs the Upward Bound program in Boulder, Colo. in addition to her role as manager of the Dream Warriors collective. “If you have one dream, one goal — then stay with it.” Winder said. “Why live someone else’s definition of success?”
The group talked about the strength and influence of music. The opportunities music provides to each of them in their lives. Individually, they have represented Native peoples at Standing Rock, and the Woman’s March in Washington, D.C.
Alcoholism, mental health, and Rez Life are all on the table when the Dream Warriors present to Native communities, and university students. Tanaya Winder was given the opportunity to speak on her passions as an artist in a TEDx Talk.
“They worked hard, they found their passions. It didn’t come easy,” Ignacio Middle School Principle, Chris deKay said.
The group also scheduled time to join an informal roundtable at the Southern Ute Education Department; the four artists, representing the Dream Warriors, engaged with members of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s youth council. “Not all tribes have a youth council, use your voice to make this more of a community, or to share your ideas.” Winder encouraged.
“It’s important for me to break that cycle, and become a better father,” Mic Jordan said. “I’m here today because of music, music saved my life.” Jordan travels to communities and universities speaking directly to youth by using his voice to address issues of alcoholism, suicide, and the negative effects of Native mascots. “I get the opportunity to encourage young minds to go after those things they desire,” he said.
Hip-hop artist Tall Paul spoke on his inspirations, and how the idea to mix language and culture with hip-hop gave him a voice, “I remember getting sober and wanting to pick up hip-hop to fill my free time.”
“We’re the thunder and lighting, your the storm — you’re the ones that are going to make change,” Waln said.
Each artist travels to perform concerts, run workshops, teach empowerment and artistic skill sets, showcase his/her performance art & artistry, and speak at various engagements throughout the country. Together, they developed the Dream Warriors Scholarship. Visit the Dream Warriors website to learn more: https://dreamwarriors.co/