I made this playlist for my college radio station in 2017. I played it on car rides with my dad and on walks by Lake Michigan. I played it on the three-hour drive from Denver to the Sand Creek Massacre site, surrounded by friends from my university’s Native American and Indigenous student organization. Three years later and an ocean away, I listen to these songs and feel a sense of community, a sense of groundedness and possibility.
There is no one way to be or sound Indigenous—this playlist spans emotions, traditions, and places. It brings together love songs, protest anthems, moments of laughter, and expressions of decolonial solidarity. It is a gathering of songs that brings nuance to our understandings of Indigenous life, presence, and community.
Katherine Paul of Black Belt Eagle Scout (Swinomish/Iñupiaq) is one of my favorite Native musicians. I wrapped up and titled this playlist with her 2018 track “Indians Never Die,” which echoes the reflective strength I am striving to bring out of this turbulent year. It ends with a simple but evocative question: “do you ever notice what’s around you / when it’s all there, in the wake of you?”
Today, take a moment to notice what’s around you and in the wake of the new year, what’s ahead of you.
Artwork by Nina Yagual