Project: Radio Series “Definition of Resilience” from INDIGEFI
Grantee: Koahnic Broadcast Corporation
Story by: Alexis Sallee
This last year, I was fortunate enough to work on a project that has given me the opportunity to continue to understand healing through music in Native America. I’m Alexis Sallee (TCF Recipient), host and producer of a weekly nationally syndicated radio program called INDIGEFI, formerly Earthsongs. INDIGEFI is a weekly one-hour show featuring an eclectic blend of modern Indigenous music. Funding from The CIRI Foundation helped us to bring listeners a radio special called “Definition of Resilience”.
Aside from the weekly radio show, I’ve worked in audio for film and TV in the greater Los Angeles area for the last seven years. Bringing my experience with Indigenous music and with sound for film, I thought it would be a great opportunity to add a visual element. We partnered with Tomás Karmelo Amaya, a Native filmmaker whose work focuses on Indigenous communities across America.
“Definition of Resilience” is a four episode radio and video documentary series highlighting the dynamic stories of Native American hip-hop MCs. Each episode follows two artists who share their stories and Indigenous history. From Minnesota to Alaska, we focus on eight rappers who speak on topics from addiction and identity to boarding schools and generational trauma.
As Native filmmakers, we want to promote the culture in a good way, through a Native lens, and show the work people are doing to heal their communities. Personally, I got to experience some really amazing moments that empowered me as a Native person. Having the public reach out with comments like, “this was beautiful, very strong messages that are shared”, “powerful”, and “this is amazing”, is so special to hear.
Spending time with these MCs, I got to see how involved they are in their communities. They took us to historical battle sites, taught us local history, and were so passionate about preserving language. These artists are reclaiming culture by guiding the next generation. Their songs reach beyond the music to teach lessons and carry on tradition. They bring the spirit of Indigenous strength to hip-hop and voice the struggles within themselves and in others. They use hip-hop to bring people together, to heal and empower them. The product of this fusion is not just amazing art — it is a way of life, rich in history and redefining what it means to be resilient.
“Definition of Resilience” was released mid-August. The radio special has aired on over 80 radio stations; the video series has over 22 thousand views on YouTube and counting. Learn more here: Definition of Resilience.