Empowering Native Identity Through Heavy Metal

We are Native metal musicians that want to create an EP over the summer dedicated to uplifting the Indigenous narrative.

Our goal is to create a heavy metal concept album that is centered around Indigenous issues and identity. Each song we create will highlight an aspect of Indigenous identity and perspective. We hope to represent issues we encounter in our daily lives as well as draw attention to the greater histories and systems that perpetuate colonization.  We are currently students at Stanford University, where we met and developed the passion and idea for this project. We will be graduating this June and hope to join our third current member who is also an Indigenous Stanford alum. We all share a passion for heavy metal and each have a strong connection to our Native identity. We are also all metal musicians that have the capabilities and skills necessary to write, record, and perform this album. This project has the strong potential to continue beyond a single EP, as we intend this to be a starting point for our band, M.I.S. - Merciless Indian Savages.

Here is the quote where our band name comes from:

“He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”
                                                                                                                                                                 -Declaration of Independence

Because of the problematic nature of the entire name, we hope to be known to our future fans just as "M.I.S." People that hear our music and support us need to know that we are going by this name not because we identify as such, but because we are still treated as such in 2019. This document which includes these words still acts as a  representation of the core values that society holds. 

This is a small taste of what we will be showing through our music.

Your contribution will go towards costs that include recording equipment, artist development (website, photos, music videos), music publishing (copyrights, distributor fees e.g., Spotify, Itunes, etc.), final production (mastering and engineering). As well as helping us cover our housing, food, and travel costs.

We hope to take advantage of the time we will have after graduating to take a deep breath and focus on something we are passionate about and do something we find truly meaningful and fulfilling. Throughout our college experience, we have been able to understand and think more critically about our Native identity in the context of the world beyond our own communities. We have come to the conclusion that people, especially Natives, need to have a chance to engage in the discourse we engaged in while at Stanford. Metal music can be a medium for this kind of social impact that raises awareness of Indigenous issues and it also can be used as tool to empower Native identities.

For example, the first song we made is called “Kill the Man, Save the Indian.” It is about an alternative perspective on the phrase “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”, which was the doctrine that justified the cultural genocide and assimilation of Native children though the boarding school system. This is the perfect embodiment of the perspective we want to highlight through our music. You can hear the full demo of this song here:

Kill the Man, Save the Indian.mp3 

Metal is connected to us, that’s why so many of us fuck with it. It speaks to our internal trauma as Natives. Help us use it as tool to tell our story. Help us create Rez Metal AKA Skoden Metal!

Ahxehee’ (thanks),


Corey & Jacob




More about us:


Corey Ashley - Rhythm Guitarist, Vocalist

Ta’neeszahnii nishłį́ dóó Todik’ozhi báshíshchíín.
Ma’ii deeshgiizhinii dashicheii dóó Naneesht’ézhí Táchii’nii dashinálí.
Ákót’éego Diné hastiin nishłį́.

I am from Sanders, Arizona. I grew up and went to school there.

Growing up on the rez, metal has been a huge part of my life. Like a lot of other rez kids, I turned to music to get through a lot of shit. This music was healing to me because it spoke to my experience, where I encountered the adversities that are way too common. Trauma is among the most important topics that doesn’t get addressed or normally communicated on the rez. Yeah it's fucked up, I know. So when I listen to metal, I feel it speak to this part of myself. It is the perfect way to express and channel these feelings about the shit that comes with being Native from the rez.

I have been into metal since I was shown Trivium by my older brother. Since then, I had the opportunity to understand and appreciate the beauty of metal from a Navajo perspective. My metal path was further encouraged when my brother got a guitar and I started playing it anytime he wasn’t home. Eventually I got my own and kept playing.

Fast forward, I get into Stanford, which I was fortunate enough to attend. I took my identity and guitar with me because I knew they were important. I met my roommate, who I learned was Aleut, listened to metal, and played guitar too. This dude turned out to be Jacob. Music has gotten me through my transition from the rez to one of the most privileged places on Earth.  As you might expect, virtually no one had a relationship with metal like we did there. I used metal as a catalyst to keep pushing through to get my degree. A lot of severe challenges came up for me while experiencing being Navajo at Stanford, but that’s a whole different conversation itself. I want to use metal as a way to channel what I’ve learned from my experience and take this opportunity to fuse two passions of mine: my Diné identity and metal.

Influences:

Trivium
Sylosis
Bullet For My Valentine
Parkway Drive
Children Of Bodom
Metallica
Exodus
Death Angel
Kreator
Iron Maiden


Jacob Mark Stepetin - Lead Guitar, Vocalist

I am Unangax, Indigenous to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. I am from a small village on Akutan Island, which has a population of roughly 90. From a young age, I have been surrounded by both my Unangax culture and heavy metal. A typical day as a 12 yr old for me might have consisted of spending the morning fishing for salmon with my dad and the evening jamming out to Metallica at my cousins’ house. Inspired by heavy music and a fervent Guitar Hero habit, I picked up one of my cousin’s guitars to learn the “Seek and Destroy” riff and never looked back.


I was nervous making the transition to an institution like Stanford, a place that was so unfamiliar to me. But the day I moved into my freshman dorm in 2014 and met Corey and saw him wearing a Trivium t-shirt and pulling out a guitar from under his bed, I knew things would be alright. From writing our first riffs together and making a pact to grow out our hair 5 years ago, we’ve come a long way and are prepared to put it all out on the line to achieve our dream.

Influences:

Slayer
Black Sabbath
Lamb of God
Behemoth
Rage Against the Machine
Megadeth
Metallica
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Organizer

Corey Ashley 
Organizer
Sanders, AZ
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