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POP Fest 2022 debuts with five star performers

One of the most notable performances at Native POP FEST 2022 was by Mato Wayuhi, Oglala Lakota, the music composer for the award-winning FX/Hulu series “Reservation Dogs.” (Photo by Ernestine Anunkasan Hupa)

Part one of a two-part series on POP Fest

RAPID CITY – A caliber of Indigenous performers not seen in and around He Sapa for quite some time graced the stage at Main Street Square over the weekend. Native People of the Plains brought to Rapid City POP Fest 2022 some of Indian Country’s top Lakota Traditional, Hip Hop, Indie Rock, Psychedelic soul, jazz and blues guitar performances.

Kicking off Pop Fest 2002 on Saturday afternoon Sept. 3, was Spur Pourier, Oglala Lakota, who brought to a mixed audience, his renditions of the traditional Lakota songs of his ancestors. Pourier sings a cappella which offers listeners a spiritual experience that transcends the moment and is soothing to the mind, body and spirit.

Pourer’s performance which echoed through the spires surrounding Main Street Square reminded onlookers, “You’re in Lakota Country and standing on Sacred Ground.”

According to Native POP, Spur has over one million streams and is a two-time Native American Music Award nominee. You may find him on Spotify and YouTube.

Next on the roster was world renowned Native Hip-Hop artist Nataanii Means, Oglala Lakota, Diné and Omaha Nation. Means, a modern warrior who has established himself by offering, through the spoken word ,a unique perspective on growing up in a world colored by racism and stained by a history of genocide. Means’ lyrics reflect the same issues his famous father Russell Means spent a lifetime exposing, but from a genre young audiences can relate to.

Native POP states, “Nataanii just released his third Album ‘Growth’ and is gearing up for a tour of North America, New Zealand and Europe this fall, winter and spring. Nataanii has been featured on major networks like MTV, and VICE as well as major publications such as Billboard, NY Times, LA Times” and is listed as one of the top 12 most influential Native Americans by

Next to hit the stage was Diné artist DEF-I, who calls Albuquerque home. According to Native Pop, DEF-I “continues to carve out an original niche from introspective and poetic Hip-Hop” and “his performance styles range widely from Hip-Hop and spoken word to contemporary Indigenous acoustic.” DEF-I emerged from the underground indie rap circuit and his “eclectic repertoire has provided him with much success and opportunity.”

DEF-I has been featured on NPR Music, Sway In The Morning, BBC, Van’s Warped Tour, Shade 45, CBC, HipHopDX, and is an active Recording Academy / GRAMMYs member, and has served as a U.S. Cultural Ambassador in Nigeria w/ Next Level USA & Meridian International.

One of the most notable performances of the day was by Mato Wayuhi, Oglala Lakota, the music composer for the award-winning FX/Hulu series “Reservation Dogs.”

A film crew from South Dakota Tourism accompanied Mato, documenting his every move as he toured his Indigenous homelands. He dedicated his hit song “Blossom” which included the lyrics “You’re so beautiful when you blossom” to his girlfriend Kinsale, whom he said traveled from the East Coast to watch him perform.

The white man’s world would be a much easier place for a talented and educated artist like Mato, but he instead chooses to use his talent to bring awareness to the plight of the Red Man.

“Ain’t nothing worse than an Indian with an education” are appropriate lyrics from Wildberry Poptart as this Indian is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California’s cinema and media studies.

“Mato’s music is everything that good Indigenous art is right now. We are in a Renaissance and his music speaks directly to that movement. It’s unapologetic, it doesn’t need permission to exist and it’s made with an urgency — an urgency to move us into a new era” says Sterlin Harjo, creator and showrunner of Reservation Dogs.

Mato took the opportunity to promote his late father’s, Akicita Naji (Michael Standing Soldier) organization Wo Ohitika (To Have Courage) which he started to help address the problems he saw among paroled offenders in South Dakota.

Next week Part Two: Native POP Fest features Earth Sky People, Welby June, Liv the Artist, Wake Singers and Levi Platero

(Contact Ernestine Anunkasan Hupa at


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