I Was Fooled, Were You??
Well, it has been just over a year that Rainbow Walker Music has been
online. During that time we have made many new friends around the world.
We have delivered orders to all parts of the US and Canada, as well as
to Japan, France and even the Czech Republic! People all over the world
want to learn and enjoy more of our rich culture through Music. Even though
I am now a Native businessman, I still feel honored to share with so many
the wonderful songs and music of our People. I was taught by my mother
and father to honor our musicians and the Gifts they carry from the Holy
People to enrich the generations. It was one of my life-long dreams to
be in business helping to spread our Music over the world, and here I
Today, I loaded the first of many more soundbites to come for people
to download and preview. What an exciting day! I remember when I first
dreamed of this moment...could I do it? Would it be too hard to learn
all of this computer stuff? And now the samples are up!!! Yay!!!
Sadly, I spent the rest of the morning taking titles off my catalog
that were not done by Native persons. Many of these artists had fooled
me over the years with their native sounding names and musical talents.
I have devoted my site to the promotion and sale of only Native artists,
and I have been fooled! I have studied Native music for over 22 years
as a singer, and carrier of songs, and I was still fooled. How many others
who have wanted to buy a product, thinking it was an authentic Native
recording were duped? Hundreds, no thousands! And many of these non-native
musicians are making big bucks off the contemporary interest in Native
music. I don't like it, and I think it is fraudulent. I propose:
1. All non-native performed recordings be labeled "NATIVE INFLUENCED
or NATIVE INSPIRED" I could live with that, I might even set up a page
to that effect someday. It would be less confusing to me.
2. OR, non-native musicians let people publically know their ethnic
background so there is no mistake.
3. Finally, I suggest that all Native musicians put their tribal identity
on their releases.
Why? I think the large majority of interested persons are seeking authentic
Native music performed by or in collaboration with Native musicians. If
I can be fooled by this, I know that many, many more non-natives buyers
are being led off.
Also, there is much precedent for this. One is champagne, you can't
bottle and sell champagne with a capital "C", unless it originates from
that very region of France. It simply protects authenticity.
Two other examples within the interface of Native and non-native business,
are jewelry and rugs. Many non-natives back in the 70's took to copying
silver jewelry and selling it as authentic Indian made. They made big
bucks! They were found out and laws were passed in the Southwest that
basically said one could not put the tag, American Indian, or Native American
on any jewelry that was not rightly done by such persons. People were
buying copied jewelry and it was clearly seen as a ripoff.
Later, people began to import machine woven rugs from Mexico with copied
Navajo Indian designs, they were wool, but not made by Navajos. Many non-native
people bought them thinking they were genuine, maybe you have one on your
wall right now that you paid 500 to 2000 dollars for! Again, this was
clearly seen as a ripoff, since these imitation rugs were being sold at
the same prices as the painstakingly handmade genuine items. The laws
then were adjusted to deal with that issue.
Check out this link describing the "The
Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990" (P.L. 101-644)
I see no difference here, and I will continue to do my best to make sure
you are ordering authentic Native music here at Rainbow Walker. I have my
working definition of what I mean by a Native person. For me it is anyone
who can make a substantiative claim to North American aboriginal ancestory.
North American simply due to the fact that those are the musical products
I sell here at Rainbow Walker.
"The law is essentially a truth-in-advertising law designed to prevent
products from being marketed as "Indian Made" when the products are
not, in fact made by Indians as defined in the Act."
However, there are many excellent collaborations being produced that
allow the Native Musician to influence the lyrical content, melodies and/or
time structures and overall vision of the artistic work. Most of these
have Native persons doing; co-writing, lead vocals, or as featured soloists
or performers on the recordings. Some good examples of these are many
of the Carlos Nakai recordings. These feature Carlos, who is Navajo/Ute,
and other noted non-native musicians writing and performing together.
I have no problem offering these types of recordings at my site.
Finally, I don't want the "native-influenced" musicians to stop making
their music, much of it is great. You know, I kind of like the sound of
that phrase, just might work. Most of the "native american" internet outlets
I have come across seem to want to sell anything as long as it looks Native
anyway, so there should be no problem for them to find outlets for their
Let's just make it easy for the buyer to know what they are getting.
Much less, the supposedly knowledgeable Native business-persons such as
myself. I just hope I don't have to spend too many more mornings removing
titles from my catalog...
DECEMBER 5, 2003
Indian Arts and Crafts Board starts toll free number
Monday, December 1, 2003