Have you heard or seen Tufawon in concert?
If you have, you're not soon to forget it. Rafael Gonzalez, better known on stage as Tufawon has a command of the stage from the second he walks on, but his command is more than a good lyric and a sick beat (though he has both of those). Tufawon raps about growing up in Minneapolis MN, being Mdewakanton Dakota and Puerto Rican, his world experiences, and his life's calling to protect the water.
If your Native musician isn't producing music while also actively protecting or raising awareness for the earth, are they even worth supporting?
Hip-hop artist Tufawon, at 32 years old has been on multiple tours with his music, using that enormous platform to speak out against the oil industry and other issues that affect his community. He's been involved in music for his whole life, born into the hip-hop movement in the inner city, and his youth was surrounded by the lifestyle and culture.
He played the trumpet and clarinet as a child, both instruments teaching him the basics of music and song structure. The first group he helped form in high school was called Illuminous 3, a hip-hop group from the south side. They played in and around the Twin Cities area and released several albums.
By the age of 21, Tufawon released his first solo album. Releasing a number of records in between, his most recent project was released in 2017 titled Self Care (available on iTunes and Spotify).
Tufawon says his most requested song is “Sagepatch Kid” off of his Homecoming EP (Video below), a song about being Indigenous, reclaiming traditional ways, and learning what it means to live off of the land.
Tufawon started touring after his experience at Standing Rock fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline. He met a lot of other Indigenous hip hop artists at camp, and those connections deepened through experience and songwriting together.
“Wake Up the World Tour” started after leaving Standing Rock. Tufawon, Nataani Means, DJ B, Yaz Like Jaws and others, toured with Chad Charlie as the host. They toured the states and Canada giving panel discussions on the No DAPL movement and playing hip-hop shows throughout. They traveled to different indigenous communities on the Rez and inner cities. This was a healing space for them to share their water protector narrative.
(Photo Credit Instagram: @7gen1d)
Next came the “Standing Up With Standing Rock” tour with Nataani Means. This tour was centered around the divestment movement.
Bringing attention to European banks invested in DAPL, this delegation of compassionate water protectors went to hold them accountable. Wasté Win Young and Rachael Heaton toured with them. Organizers of the tour found out Tufawon and Nataanii rapped and invited them to perform at concerts along the way.
Tufawon went on a second Europe tour in 2017 with Nataanii, Alas, Witko, and DJ B called the “Decolonize America Tour” in the fall. He describes this as an “…amazing experience and how I started to build connections in Europe. I handed out my business cards and sold my music. I was ready for this tour.”
The “Love Water Not Oil” tour with Nahko in MN and northern WI brought attention to Line 3, a proposed Enbridge tar sands pipeline threatening the wetlands of Minnesota, wild rice beds, and wildlife in Ojibwe/Dakota territory.
In 2018 Tufawon received a grant to do his first headlining tour in Europe. “It wasn’t us just going and playing hip hop shows, it was also about connecting with the people and learning about their fight against climate change in solidarity” a cause that Tufawon knows well, and lives every day.
At this very moment, rapper Tufawon is out in the woods of Northern MN at a resistance camp to fight Line 3. He's probably editing this article I drafted from his yurt out in the snow. When I asked him to give a statement about what he's doing he had this to say:
“Right now we are at an encampment, organizing efforts to stop Line 3. Indigenous people and allies have been engaging in different actions, the divestment movement, and using art and music to spread awareness to Stop Line 3. This tar sands pipeline by Enbridge corporation is attempting to move 1M gallons or tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to Lake Superior every day. This threatens everything in its path, cutting across northern MN, home to over 10K lakes, many of them connected underground.
When the pipeline breaks, it contaminates the water. The pipeline is planned to cross underneath the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. In this region, the Midwest, is where 1/5 of the remaining freshwater in the world is located. I will continue to be here and protect the sacred water. This oil needs to stay in the ground because climate change is a real issue, and the oil they extract and burn is linked to disasters like the fires in northern CA and the hurricanes in Puerto Rico. Tar sands emits higher levels of Co2 into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming. We have to act now! We are putting our time and our effort into protecting the land and all that is sacred, so please support us”.
For more info visit stopline3.org.
Follow Tufawon on Social Media and donate if you can to the effort to save Mother Earth, continuing the fight against oil.
*Stop Line 3 Support:
Buy “Not Your Land | Not Your Lakes” hoodie. Proceeds go directly to the on the ground fight to Stop Line 3. http://NataaniiMeans.com/shop
New record released soon!
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TAGGED: Mdewakanton Dakota music rafael gonzalex tufawon