In ‘dialogue’ with Robert Mirabal

Please post your reflections on the dialogue here

13 Responses to In ‘dialogue’ with Robert Mirabal

  1. Sharron Proulx-Turner says:

    If at least one person was surprised at the comment about Mirabal selling out (I wasn’t), I’m surprised at how little response there is altogether to these three days of dialogic interaction. I don’t know about anyone else, but every new response comes right into my email account. I don’t like to receive emails that aren’t directed to me, and my first response is to junk them, but instead, I went to the site and read the responses there. I’ve been away since a week ago today, up north, out of email and cell phone range, witnessing miracles in people’s lives, in ceremony. Some of my responses to the blindfold/earplug/lights-out moments with Mirabal’s work have stayed with me all week. When I put ear plugs into my ears, I became aware of the air around me. The room was hot and stuffy and close, yet with the ear plugs in I could feel cool air all around me. I was reminded of my first reaction to meeting with the class. I was struck by the fact that Indigenous Studies is relegated to the outdoor shacks, where the fan is so loud, it had to be turned off in order for us to hear one another. Winter will be noisy and stuffy in there, I thought. Not a good learning environment. Then the other Indigenous Studies class was held in a basement. No windows. Close. I was angered by these facts: old, tired, insidious, (perhaps unconscious, perhaps not thought through) racist bureaucratic decisions. I felt very, very angry that all Indigenous dance, all Indigenous ceremony, the languages (and there are literally hundreds), were banned in Canada for about a hundred years and there is at least one person in the class who believes that, “when a culture is oppressed, their voice is lost.” I am wondering if the video somehow indicated a “lost voice?” The ceremonies and dances and languages were kept alive, despite the dangers to the people. Women and men and even children were and still are incarcerated for keeping the traditions alive. And the traditions are alive. They are living entities, like each of us. Those were pow wow dances in the video. Pow wow dance has become a public tradition, though the meaning behind the dances is often very personal, private and sacred. Anyone can attend a pow wow. This is my challenge to each of you in class who has never attended a pow wow. Go. Google local pow wow’s and go to one this coming season. Join in on the Intertribal dance. Expand your voices.

  2. Shine says:

    In a rapidly globalizing world cultures are inevitably becoming hybridized, with obvious homage being paid to the original culture, but necessary evolution occurring to keep up with the rapid change and intermingling of human cultural histories. Mirabel embodies this very well, despite controversy, portraying a merging of his culture’s traditional song and dance, with modern pop/rock influence to bring it into the mainstream of the modern world which has been, albeit forcibly, created in a realm that was once all their own.
    It is always unfortunate when a culture is lost, so any way in which it can be preserved, kept in the awareness of new generations, is admirable. One might bring up the danger of assimilation, which is a very real possibility with this type of reworking of a tradition, but it is up to members of that culture to force their voices to be heard amongst the myriad of other ancient, emerging, and melding cultures. Achieving this through popular media as Mirabel has done simply assures that the Pueblo’s song will be among those voices that make up our world’s music. When a culture is oppressed, their voice is lost, something I feel should never be allowed to occur as it is the magnificent differentiation in human culture that makes our history so rich and interesting. We can learn from it, grow from it, and adapt to changing circumstances by respecting our history, living in our present, and looking towards our future; with hope that one day humanity can exist as one people with respect, tolerance, understanding and love for one another, instead of the desire to dominate, conquer and oppress each other.

  3. LAM says:

    Robert Mirabal should be commended for his passion to do something. Weither the right way or the wrong way, he saw a need and is doing something about it that he beleives works…. can each of us say that we have done the same?

    Sorry guys, my writing skills are not fabulous but here it is:
    Creating a new, from me to you,
    presenting a truth in someone’s view.
    Coming together is hard to do,
    does it have to end in a fight?

    Be kind in your mind,
    embrace a difference.
    Be kind in your heart,
    celebrate eachother.

    Creating a new, from me to you,
    presenting a truth in someone’s view.
    Coming together is hard to do,
    it doesn’t have to end in strife.

    Share yourself,
    share your view.
    Be unique,
    start something new.

    Je suis qui je suis,
    et de-qui etes vous?

    Accept one another, for me, for you.

  4. Jacqui says:

    Wow, what a class. Two classes. I think it is great that someone introduced me to Mirabal’s work. Not sure about the synthesis part. Maybe it is hard to tell the difference between synthesis and being co-opted. I am not sure we knew enough as a group about the Taos Pueblo to be making judgments but I certainly learned something about the Blackfoot and whistling at night. That was very interesting.I also thought we white people took over a bit with our concerns. In another class we learned about doing cultural homework and I do not think I have done enough about Robert Mirabal as an artist or about the Taos Pueblo, not even what language they speak.

  5. Dream a dream, a dream of hope
    The hope to be one people
    Dream a dream, a dream of love
    A love of all that is

    Share with me your dreams
    I share with you mine
    A hope of understanding
    A gift of past time

    Dream a dream, a dream of hope
    The hope of freedom
    Dream a dream, a dream of joy
    A joy for all that is

    The spirits sing, we are one
    The spirits dance, we are one
    The world rejoices, we are one!

    Further comments about Tuesdays class can be found in my blog at

  6. con leche says:

    Ask again
    What do you want?
    ask again

    It’s already there
    under and
    in and
    What’s yours is there

    It’s not here

    Ask again
    What do you want?
    ask again

    It’s not here
    but so close
    you said you waited so long
    it was heartbreaking.
    you’re so close

    (“Don’t be like that…” wasn’t fair of me to say, was it?)

  7. bernice says:

    Watching the video, i couldn`t help but admire Mirabal`s desire and effort to make his culture known. He wants posterity to see his rich culture. Commendable i would say!

  8. Secret Fan says:

    I am surprised there are so few comments here. I’ve been so torn. The process of going through the lyrics (trite and hokey) then the music (confusion, fusion, and I thought possibly really white) but catchy since I wanted to dance–and then the video. I was surprised to see this guy. I don’t know as much about Pueblos as I would like to. So after many hours I find myself thinking what is wrong with the mixing of forms (I listen to aboriginal hip hop, great stuff). Is he responsible for who likes his music, like, do we get on the case of first nations actors because white people like their movies or they take on characters that are not part of their group (think Dances With Wolves–awful awful stuff or this new Tonto movie). Or writers who go to Wordfest in Calgary and have all these people fawning over them and buying their books?Wish people would buy my stuff he he. I reserve the right to wear jeans and a t-shirt and have short hair and lighter skin and have an ipod and a smartphone and a computer and watch tv and play videogames. Doesn;t make me a sell-out.The guys who play with the oil caompanies–that is another story. None of that makes me less authentic. My people wee know for being welcoming and adaptable. But for drawing the line too. I know that when I see or listen to this guy, I see and hear diiferent and maybe better things than others, but they should listen to him because they will learn something. . Or as that girl in the class said,or I thought she said, they won’t get it, that this guy’s music and art might keep him alive and he will be seen as a cardboard Indian whatever it is he wants or says even by his own people. That makes me sad that we can’t even say good job although some of it is hokey, the love and peace stuff.

  9. TA says:

    I was also quite surprised with the comment of Robert Mirabel and “selling out”. As an outsider to the traditions, dances & culture of the Aboriginal community I found myself being quite wonderstruck by it all. For me the video and song brought up a lot of mixed emotions. For some reason I felt quite angry towards myself for being ignorant of how important and special these dances & traditions are to the aboriginal people; maybe this is why the comment of selling out came up in class. I think it’s really important for myself and others to have knowledge of these traditions and to acknowledge the importance of them to the Aboriginal communities both locally and globally. Clearly these traditions, dances, songs & practices play an important role in the Aboriginal community.

  10. Sharron Proulx-Turner says:

    allons-y alonzo

    where history is poetry
    where rubber meets the road
    where gandhi, nader, martin luther king
    where water rests and pools
    around our tired bones

    a child is born
    it is only raining in the sky
    his body, her body, bending
    leaning, husking sacred corn

    when history is poetry
    when rubber meets the road
    when gandhi, nader, martin luther king
    when song bursts out through the looking glass
    around our tired bones

    a child is growing
    a bird inside the house
    her name, his name is
    nothing is the same

    while history is poetry
    while rubber meets the road
    while gandhi, nader, martin luther king
    while fireflies shake the silence
    around our tired bones

    a child is grown
    having known
    love and sex and rock n’ roll
    and trust, a trust, to trust
    professor norman cornett’s open heart
    to know

  11. Dawn says:

    I was surprised by the comments in class on the idea that Mirabal was selling out or betraying aboriginal people. His music may be a fusion of traditions but is Native American through and through. I looked at another version of the song on Youtube, where he is singing alone without the dancers. Different, I thought more powerful. He also has a blog where he talks about farming and the cultural situation of the Pueblo. You can see his commitment to his people as well as his art.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s