Dream Warriors are returning to Ignacio to raise up voices of new Native artists

by Amanda Push

There’s power in numbers and this month, a group of Indigenous artists is passing on that potential to new Native musicians looking to learn the craft.

KSUT is bringing the Awakening the Warrior Within program to Ignacio with the help of a $46,000 grant the radio station received from the Colorado Health Foundation. The grant is making it possible to bring the Dream Warriors, indigenous recording and spoken word artists, to Ignacio to work with up to 15 Native youth, ages 19 and younger.

From August 20 to 22, there will be free multimedia training at the Sun Ute Recreation Center with the following artists: Frank Waln, an award-winning Sicangu Lakota hip hop artist and music producer from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota; Paul Wenell Jr. aka Tall Paul, a rapper from Minneapolis; Lyla June, a musician, poet, anthropologist, educator, community organizer, and public speaker; Wake Self, a hip hop artist from Albuquerque; Gunner Jules, a recording artist and music producer of the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota; and Tanaya Winder, a poet, songwriter, and performer.

Winder, the founder of Dream Warriors, started the organization to support Native Americans pursuing their artistic endeavors.

“I started it in 2015 and before that, I did the TEDxAlbuquerque talk and I got a decent amount of views and people started booking me to do keynotes and public speaking,” she said. “I was learning about the process of advocating for yourself.”

During the program, participants will learn practical skills on songwriting and beat making. There will be three public performances: Aug. 19 from 6-7:30 p.m. at Ignacio High School; Aug. 20 from 4-5 p.m. at Inspiration Square in the ELHI Community Center in Ignacio; and Aug. 23 from 8-9:30 p.m. at The Garage (formerly Ponga’s) in Durango.

Winder, a former Ignacio resident, is honored to provide inspiration to young artists.

“I felt this pressure to become a doctor or lawyer,” she said. “I went to Stanford to become a lawyer and instead I learned I can do art. To come home and teach is such a huge gift.”

Winder’s goal with the program is to show youth that performing music doesn’t have to be about competition. She wants them to show support and uplift each other.

“I hope participants walk away with hope and empowerment,” Winder said. “I hope someone seeing someone else performing empowers them to create whatever they want to create in their own lives – whatever their passion is.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Tanaya Winder as Wilder.Amanda Push


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