April 18th, 2022 Last Updated on: April 20th, 2022
Talent comes in all shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities and from all walks of life.
There's certainly no shortage of Native American talent in the U.S. While in the past, indigenous people have not been seen for what they are worth, things are changing and Native talent is now more prominently featured in the media, on the stage, and on the page.
And these individuals aren't expressing their talent to make money and become famous. Instead, they're all teaching about and advocating for the indigenous communities from which they've come.
If you're looking to book a speaker, comedian, musician dancer or other performers, check out our Native Talent Directory. To learn a little more about some of the talent you'll find in the directory, read on for a short bio and pics of some of our featured Native performers.
Each of these talented Native Americans is making waves in their indigenous communities and beyond.
Laura Grizzlypaws does it all! She performs in pow wows as a dancer and drummer, and she is also a singer/songwriter and athlete and helps educate and advocate on the topics of Native language and culture. She is a descendant from St'át'imc and of the Xwisten the Bear Clan. Her St'át'imc name is “Stálhalamcen,” which means Grizzly Paws.
When Grizzlypaws participates in pow wows, she tells stories through music and dance dressed as a grizzly bear. She won an award for the best hand drum album at the 2019 Indigenous Music Awards, where she also performed her famous Bear Dance.
In an interview with PowHERhouse, she was asked what her mission was.
“I am on a mission to advocate powHERfully for the cultural survival of distinct identities by honoring self-determination, empowering individuals through political leadership, and demonstrating resilience as a woman.”
Read the full interview here
Follow Laura Grizzlypaws on social media.
The group Northern Cree, also known as the Northern Cree Singers, has been around since the 1980s and resides in Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada. They are a powwow and round dance drumming and singing group. Over the decades, the group has become one of America's most well-known and respected powwow groups.
Northern Cree's members consist of individuals from the following bands: Saddle Lake Band, Samson Band, Louis Bull Band, Frog Lake Band, Onion Lake Band, Sweetgrass Band, Poundmaker Band, Sunchild Band, Menominee Nation.
The group is famous for playing at music festivals, celebrations, powwows, and online performances.
Follow Northern Cree on social media.
Straight out of the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma, this brother duo (Mike Bone) made their debut after appearing on “America's Got Talent.” Growing up, they have overcome discrimination, bullying, and mental health issues, making them who they are today. They rap about the things they have gone through and hope to help young people stay away from gangs, violence, and drugs and grow closer to God.
The pair performs at clubs, music festivals, casinos, community events, on the radio, and online.
Follow them on social media.
Lyla June Johnson is a Navajo/Cheyenne musician from Taos, Minnesota. She is also a writer, poet, artist, scholar, advocator, and community organizer. Lyla is not just a performer—she has an impressive academic resume, including an undergraduate degree in Ecology and a graduate degree in Native American Pedagogy. She is currently working toward a doctorate in Indigenous Studies at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
Her music is incredibly inspiring and speaks on topics of the environment, equality, sovereignty, advocacy and spirituality.
Check out her music video, “All Nations Rise.”
Follow Lyla on social media.
From the Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina, Alexis Raeana busted into the modeling scene and became quite successful. Coming from a tiny rural town in Pembroke, she defied the odds and showed the world what she is made of. Alexis is a model and also a makeup artist and vocalist. While she didn't win, she has auditioned twice for “American Idol.”
In 2015, she was crowned Miss Lumbee, becoming a role model for young indigenous girls and women, proving that they can achieve whatever their hearts desire. She has performed at concerts and events around North Carolina and even earned a spot at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C.
Follow Alexis on social media.
Haatepah Clearbear is a full-time model in Los Angeles. He used his beauty and talent to bring awareness, as an activist, to indigenous and environmental-related issues.
In an interview with Nike, Haatepah and his identical twin brother (both adopted) speak about what is important to them—nature.
“Well, if I'm going to say this in a very blunt way, we are the “OG” environmentalists. We have always known how to work with the land rather than against it in a balanced equilibrium. So the environmental aspect of this—basically reclaiming your Indigeneity—goes 100 percent hand in hand.”
Watch his beautiful Indigenous Ralph Lauren commercial.
Follow Haatepah on social media.
From the Fort Peck Sioux tribe in Sante Fe, New Mexico, Amber Midthunder became an actress, writer, and director at the young age of 24. You may have seen her in one of the television series “Legion,” “Longmire,” “Roswell, New Mexico,” “The Originals,” and “Banshee.” She comes from a line of creative people, as her father is also an actor and her mother is a casting director.
Her most current project is related to the “Predator series,” called “Prey,” which will air on Hulu this year. She reportedly has been cast as the lead.
Watch her in a quick interview on the set of “Roswell, New Mexico.”
Follow Amber on social media.
Forrest Goodluck made his on-screen debut by playing Leonardo DiCaprio's son, Hawk, in “The Revenant.” Other films and television series he has acted in are “The Republic of Sarah, Cherry,” “The Liberator,” “Blood Quantum,” and “The Miseducation of Cameron Post.” There is no doubt that this coming-of-age actor is one to keep your eyes on.
Forrest's father is Navajo, and his mother's ancestry includes Hidatsa, Mandan, Navajo, and Tsimshian. He grew up in Albuchurche, New Mexico.
Watch a quick behind-the-scenes interview with Forrest while working on “The Revenant.”
Follow Forrest on social media.
Tonia Jo Hall, a Lakota comedian and motivational speaker has a goal to reach young indigenous individuals through her creative work. She is well known in the world of YouTube and on the stage as a stand-up comedian. During her comedy routines, Tonia summons her Native alter-ego, Auntie Beachress.
Comedy is a way for Tonia to “help our people heal.”
You can book her to speak at your next event.
Or follow Tonia on social media.
Nataanii Means is an Oglala Lakota, Omaha, Diné hip-hop artist, motivational speaker, and advocate. His focus is on Indigenous rights, human rights, and environmental issues. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree—his father, Russell Means, is a Native advocate as well.
Billboard featured Nataanii in an article discussing his vast contribution to the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the article, he talks about enduring police brutality at the pipeline's location while he was acting as a water protector.
“Hip-hop music is healing. But out here, I'm a hip-hop artist last. I'm an Oglala first, I'm an indigenous man first. I'm a protector, and I'm here for the water, and that's what's most important. “
Follow Nataanii on social media.
Billy-Ray Belcourt is an award-winning author and scholar with a Ph.D. in English, and he was the first First Nation Rhode's Scholar in Canada. As a Cree tribal member, he writes poetry and essays about life as an indigenous queer man. Currently, he is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. Over the past few years, Billy-Ray has won various awards and prizes for his work.
Check out his book of poems titled “This Wound is a World” and his book of essays called “A History of My Brief Body”
Follow Billy-Ray on social media and become inspired.
Louise Erdrich is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author originally from Little Falls, Minnesota, and is a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, a federally recognized tribe of the Anishinaabe.
Louise has written 28 books throughout her career, including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and children’s books. She is recognized through various awards and prizes and won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel “The Night Watchman.”
If you’re ever in the Minneapolis area, stop by her Native bookstore called BirchBark Books.
Follow Louise on social media.
Celebrate Native American Talent!
There is talent everywhere you look, whether it be someone in the media, a friend, or a neighbor down the street. It is important to recognize those who give back to their communities through the special talents that were given to them. Not only should we celebrate these folks, but also support them and their endeavors in whatever way we can.
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