Navajo Nation Steelpan, and Aboriginal Reggae

It seems that Trinidad’s steelpan has “gone native” in the Navajo Nation in the U.S. (Yes, the “steelpan” is a Trinidadian invention, reportedly the only new musical instrument to have been invented in the 20th century.)

Navajo Nation youth, organized into a steelpan orchestra, played at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The youths came from the Church Rock Academy in Gallup, New Mexico.

In a printed statement handed out among guests, the school band stated:

“The Navajo students have adopted this instrument as their own and so celebrate both their own culture with traditional Navajo music and other cultures by playing music such as reggae, calypso, and limbo.”

For the original story, click here.

A video synopsis of their performances at the Museum is included below.


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From Australia’s Letterstick Band, one of their reggae tunes titled “Lost Boy” can be heard below. This song comes from their “An Barra Clan” album, produced and released by the Central Australia Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA). I had the pleasure of visiting CAAMA in person, in Alice Springs, in 2001, where I obtained a copy of this particular album, heard a dozen other Aboriginal reggae tunes, and interacted with little children who knew no English and seemed confused about why I could not answer them in their language.