George Clutesi and a Nootka Farewell Song

The Nookta Native American tribe has its origins in modern day British Columbia. The Nootka Farewell Song performed by George Clutesi is not only a fine example of a conscious effort to preserve the Native cultures of the region but also it is an example of traditional Native American music being given some light in the mainstream culture of today. Clutesi was the first Tseshaht mainstream celebrity in Canada. He was a multitalented artist who acted, wrote, and was an expert on native cultures. As a child, Clutesi was forced into participating in an educational system where one’s native heritage and culture was seen as a negative attribute and whose goal was to erase it. Fortunately, even as a young child Clutesi knew that there was something fundamentally wrong with this ideology and rejected it completely through his artistic talents. The song I’ve linked below is a representation of what Nootka music sounded like during the 20th century. Notable features of the song include an ad libbed introduction sung as a solo, then when the main tune kicks in the drum beat starts pounding a steady beat that continues until the ad lib outro. At the same time, as the drum beat beings we hear a choir singing in unison quietly in the background. If it weren’t for Clutesi and his activist contributions to the preservation of Native societies’ cultures there would be many songs such as this one which would be lost in the universe, never to be heard again.

One thought on “George Clutesi and a Nootka Farewell Song

  1. Thanks for highlighting the work of George Clutesi and for including a fascinating musical excerpt in your post! I’m curious to know how you discovered this music – what led you to Clutesi and to the Nootka? As we discussed in class, make sure you’re using the primary source collections that are assigned, and try to add more media (esp. images), hyperlinks to other resources on the Nootka or Clutesi, and add tags so that this post can be classified alongside the others. Your writing is clear, you have an eye for an interesting topic, and you offer fabulous insights into the music and the culture that produced it, so if you can add in the aforementioned “bloggy” elements, you’ll be in great shape!

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