November is taoStyle’s Birthday Month and Robby Romero was there when it began.
I started this (web)zine three years ago, with a post on Robby Romero and Robert Mirabal, and for the first several months Robby and Robert Mirabal (who sometimes pair up as Iron Horse), contributed and/or were showcased here on taoStyle frequently. I was more than happy to have them here often and felt it was very important, when starting this Taoscentric blog, that First Peoples came first.
We’ve not seen much of them lately because these guys have been super busy. Robert is getting ready for a show at Carnegie Hall in NYC while Robby’s been hunkered down with his friend and mentor, the late (AIM founder), Dennis Banks and other Native Elders in Indian Country. Robby has had two mentors named Dennis. Banks and Hopper. After Dennis Hopper passed, he was grateful he still had Banks, and began spending more time with him.
After Dennis Banks passed on in late October, I reached out to Robby but heard nothing back. I assumed he was grieving and in ceremony for his beloved, departed friend. A couple of years ago, when I was gravely ill, Robby had swung by to see me with Dennis who was passing through Taos at the time, on one leg of his Longest Walk. A truly remarkable and inspiring man, I had come to know Dennis during the 90’s when after being introduced by Robby, he hired me to do some PR writing for him. It was an honor and a privilege to spend time with him, and in his company, I learned so much about the history, culture and ways of the First Americans.
I had last seen Robby here in Taos several months ago, when he played me “Born On The Rez”, the powerful song he’d written during the Stand at Standing Rock, which he’d just recorded in LA with a group of incredible musicians who also happen to be his old friends. So when I received a Press Release regarding this song, I thought I’d do a piece in the Spirit of Solidarity with First Peoples all over Turtle Island and beyond, and as a tribute to Dennis Banks, a man who overcame unbelievable obstacles, who had a personal journey that truly was a Hero’s Journey and ultimately inspired and lifted up the hearts of so many, myself included. Dennis was a huge influence on Robby for many decades and I know his passing a massive loss for all of his extended family. This recording is a beautiful tribute to Dennis Banks.
Native Children’s Survival founder and United Nations Ambassador for Indigenous Rights, Robby Romero, Native Rock Music Pioneer, has partnered with PledgeMusic in support of the Born On The Rez music campaign to #Honor1851Treaty. The first single drops this month (November 2017) during Native American Heritage Month, and is dedicated to the memory and lifelong work of the Great Ojibwa Warrior, Dennis Banks (4/12/37-10/29/17), a founding member of the campaign. “From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock, the Born On The Rez Music Campaign is a poetic journey through history honoring our fight for freedom and cultural survival.”
Romero brings together some of the industry’s most eminent Grammy winning musicians, producers and engineers for the recording at Capitol Records. The single is executive produced by Dennis Banks and Laila Nabulsi, produced by Don Was, engineered by Ed Cherney, mixed by Steve Addabbo, and mastered by Howie Weinberg. Musicians include Jim Cox, Gary Farmer, Jim Keltner, Danny “Kootch” Kortchmar, Robert Mirabal and Don Was. The chorus features Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Dakota Romero, Raye Zaragoza, and the legendary Kris Kristofferson.
Beginning with the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, the campaign challenges the United States and its Congress to uphold and honor at least one of the more than 500 Treaties made with Native Nations on the Trail of Broken Treaties. 100% of profits from the single and associated merchandise also benefits the Mní Wíčóni Legal Defense/Offense Committee, an organization founded by American Indian Movement elders, Madonna Thunder Hawk (Cheyenne River Sioux Nation), Phyllis Young (Standing Rock Sioux Nation), and Dennis Banks (Ojibwe Nation) to support Water Protectors on the front lines of the movement. The campaign has received support from Academy Award winners and influential people of change including Patricia Arquette and Alisa Keesey (Give Love Organization), Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Pete Nichols(Waterkeeper Alliance), Mark Wolper (Wolper Organization), Jack Huston, Ed Begley Jr., Helena Kallianiotes, and Sean Penn. To join the campaign, pledge your support, and download the single along with exclusive Native Rock Music merchandise by award-winning Native Artists visit: www.pledgemusic.com/projects/honor1851treaty
Robby will be back in Taos sooner than later, no doubt, and I’ll run into him somewhere and it’ll be like yesterday and we’ll simply pick up where we last left off, when he was headed north to Minnesota, to see his kids and spend time with Dennis, who was still very much alive.
“He’s getting old,” Robby told me when we last spoke, “he turned 80 this year, but he’s still got that fire.”
“He’s still Dennis.” He smiled fondly at the thought of this man who had first introduced him to the Red Road he continues to walk upon.
Native Children’s Survival is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1989 bringing an Indigenous voice through music and film to the advocacy of peace, human rights, and environmental justice.
For more information on Robby Romero and what he does, please visit his site, linked below.
All images c/o Eagle Thunder Enterprises