Blackfire in Prague
What you hear there is traditional Navajo Indian chanting incorporated into modern music. Punk rock fans may recognize the group Blackfire - a traditionally influenced, politically driven group comprised of thee Navajo Indian siblings - Jeneda, Clayson and Klee Bennaly . Born into the heart of a political land dispute area called Big Mountain on the Navajo Nation the Bennaly family is driven by the need to save as much as it can from its precious legacy and to spread awareness of traditions and a way of life that are being stiffled by the demands of an increasingly consumerist society.
This year the Bennalys ended their annual European tour in the Czech Republic with Blackfire concerts and performances of traditional Navajo dances. Klee Bennaly explains -
"Our family is very unique in some respects. What we are sharing is the traditional dances that we've been taught by our father. We show those parts of our ceremonies which are allowed to be seen by the public, which is something very spectacular because we have a lot of dances ranging from an Eagle Dance to a Hoop Dance performed in traditional outfits that are still hand made. And we have our punk band which comes as a surprise to a lot of people. Its called Blackfire and it is high energy, traditionally influenced. We use some traditional chanting with our music but we also sing a lot about the situations that are affecting us politically and environmentally as native people."
"We are just trying to share our culture , show people that native people are still alive...Some people watch too many movies and they think John Wayne killed all the Indians or they're out dancing with wolves but in reality there's over 500 different nations throughout the US that are carrying on their cultures, their own individual ways of life, their own languages, their own ceremonies. And what we are sharing is just a peek into the Navajo culture, traditional and contemporary."
Across Europe the Bennalys have hundreds of wildly enthusiastic fans -who are not only crazy about their music but who support the message behind their protest songs. So what is the "connection" that the Bennalys instantly establish with their audiences wherever they may be? Klee Bennaly again:
"If you could define it - it's just an energy and a desire for healing because we can feel that there's something wrong today . There are places in the world where you can't breathe the air or drink the water -in more extreme cases there are places where people are still dropping bombs, forcibly re-locating people , incarcerating people -and that clearly shows that there's something wrong there. So the connecting point is the energy of saying all right there's something wrong here and we want a healing. "
Well, if you are listening to us in Prague you have one last chance to hear the Bennalys live - their last concert in Prague starts at 9pm today at Club Strahov on the University Campus. For more information about Blackfire go to: www.blackfire.net