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Updated: Oct 1, 2021

By Aaren Herron

The annals of music history are lined with legends of nearly boundless origins. From blues to rock, pop to folk, these six Native American musicians have left an indelible mark on music today.


John Lennon called him one of “the greatest unknowns of rock ‘n roll.” Iggy Pop, Jimmy Page, Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young all cite him among their most important early influences.

Born Frederick Lincoln Wray Jr. (May 2, 1929 – November 5, 2005) in Dunn, North Carolina, guitarist Link Wray (Shawnee) is credited with inventing the power chord in the 1950s. His raw, rockabilly sound – and particularly the iconic instrumental, “Rumble” – is considered the foundation for heavy metal and punk music.

“He is the king," Pete Townshend of The Who, said of Wray. “If it hadn't been for Link Wray and ‘Rumble, ’I would have never picked up a guitar.”

The recording of “Rumble” is as steeped in legend as Wray himself. Apparently the guitarist, unhappy with the sound coming from his amp, poked a pencil through the speaker cone to create his signature distorted sound. The song’s primitive, pounding chords, which Wray slowed to a swampy crawl, caused a national uproar – and it remains the only instrumental song to ever be banned on American radio.

Wray’s other hits include “Rawhide,” “Jack the Ripper,” and the theme song for the classic Batman TV series. His music has been featured on the soundtracks for such major films as Pulp Fiction and Independence Day.


Jamie Royal “Robbie” Robertson (born July 5, 1943), a descendant of the Cayuga and Mohawk Native Peoples, is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, musician extraordinaire. His work with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted The Band, was vital to the creation of the American Music genre.

Robertson was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Canada’s Walk of Fame and is ranked 59th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.


James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (November 27,1942 - September 18, 1970), was a member of the Cherokee Nation. As a singer, musician, and songwriter, Hendrix would play for a countless number of bands before settling on his own first and only number 1 album The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Hendrix was the highest-paid performer of his time and was one of the first guitarists to use tone-altering effects in mainstream rock.

Though his career lasted a very short time, Hendrix is considered to be one of the single most influential musicians in the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame described him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.”


Buffy Sainte-Marie (born February 20,1941) is a member of the Piapot Cree Nation. She is best known for her work on facing the issues faced by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas through her music and writing.

Sainte-Marie has been recognized and won various awards and honors throughout her career and, in 1983, Sainte-Marie became the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar for her song “Up Where We Belong.”


Moving away from the individual, Redbone is made up of Mexican American and Native American band members. This heritage was reflected greatly in the production of their music, stage presence, and album art.

Redbone reached Top 5 on the U.S Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974, with a single that was certified Gold, making them the first Native American band to reach the Billboard Hot 100. They would then be inducted into the Native American Music Association Hall of Fame in 2008, alongside the NY Smithsonian in 2013.


Cary Morin is a member of the Crow Nation and has been described as one of the greatest acoustic pickers to play the guitar. Having played various celebrated venues across rock history (including the 2010 Vancouver Olympics), Morin has won countless awards for blues, rock, and folk music alone. Morin has a tally of nearly a dozen awards in 2013/14 alone, including a Lifetime achievement award from Fort Collins Music Association.

#NativeAmerican #NativeMusicians #NativeArt #JimiHendrix #RobbieRobertson #BuffySainteMarie #TheBand #Redbone #IndigenousMusic #IndigenousPeoples #NativePeoples #RockandRoll, #HallofFame #Oscars #TrendSetters #MusicHistory #NativeAmericanMusicians #NativeHistory #IndigenousHistory #History

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Updated: Nov 10, 2021

By Aaren Herron

Discussions about influential U.S. sports figures seldom include the names of Native Americans. Yet there have been numerous Native athletes who broke records while also breaking social barriers. Here, we look at six who made a major impact on their individual sport and on the world.


James Francis Thorpe (May 28, 1888– March 28, 1953), was an All-American athlete and the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal. He actually won two gold medals at the 1912 Olympics, taking top honors while also setting records in both the Decathlon and classic pentathlon.

Born in the Sac and Fox Nation in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), Thorpe was signed by the New York Giants in 1913 and played for various MLB teams until 1919. The slugger simultaneously played for the Canton Bulldogs American Football team, bringing them three professional championships in the process. In the early 1920s, Thorpe would help create the National Football League we know today. He is considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, and was named Athlete of the [20th] Century by ABC World Wide of Sports in 2001.


William Mervin Mills (b. June 30,1938), a.k.a., Tamakoce Te'Hila, was born and raised in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, as a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Mills received an athletic scholarship to the University of Kansas, where he went on to become a three-time NCAA All-American cross-country runner as well as individual champion at the 1960 Big Eight cross-country championship.

Competing as a largely unknown runner in the 1964 Olympic Games, Mills took home the gold in the 10,000-meter race while setting a record of 28:24:4 – the first non-European winner and only winner from the Americas to ever do so. He would go on to reset the U.S. records for both the 10,000-meter and the three-mile run. Inducted into the U.S. National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1976, Mills was inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 1984 – the same year he carried the Olympic flag during the Games. Later in life, he co-founded the nonprofit organization Running Strong for American Indian Youth.


Despite growing up in poverty, Ellison Meyers Brown (September 22,1913 - August 23,1975), was a direct descendant of the last acknowledged royal family of the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island. Perhaps it was this noble heritage that drove him to become one of the greatest long-distance runners in U.S. history. In 1936, Brown became the second-ever Native American to win the Boston Marathon; that same year, Brown competed in the Olympic Games and won the Port Chester (New York) marathon as well as (the very next day) a second marathon in Manchester, New Hampshire. Three years later, Brown became the first runner to break the 2:30 mark during the Boston Marathon, bringing him his second win.


Rodney Dean Curl (born January 9, 1943) is the first full-blooded Native American golfer to win a PGA tour event. A member of the Wintu Indian tribe, Curl joined the PGA circuit in 1969; over the next decade, he also racked up 42 top-ten finishes – including a half dozen in the top three.


John T. “Chief” Meyers (July 29, 1880 – July 25, 1971) was a Major League Baseball player and member of the Cahuilla tribe on the Santa Rosa Reservation in Riverside, California.

Drafted by the New York Giants, Meyers would play in four different World Series – three in a row with the New York Giants (1911-1913) and one with the Brooklyn Robins in 1916. In 1933, Meyers was appointed chief of the Mission Indian Agency of Southern California, where he worked until he retired.


Joe “The Boss” Hipp (born December 7, 1962) is a member of the Blackfeet Tribe and a retired professional heavyweight boxer. On August 19,1995, Hipp became the first Native American to challenge for – and win – a world heavyweight boxing championship. He ended his career with a 43-7 record.

#NativeAmericans #Nativeathletes #MLB #NFL #Olympics #BostonMarathon

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By Joel Centano

A parental confession: My two daughters (ages 7 and 10), as young kids are wont to do, tune me and my “dad talks” out as a matter of principle. If you promise not to tell them, though, I’ll let you in on a secret: I haven’t given up on teaching essential life lessons. I’ve simply become more creative in how I instill them – swapping out my quickly dismissed discussions (“we get it, Dad!”), for instance, with mediums they’re more likely to tune into and role models they’re most likely to follow.

Enter Coin Trick with its illuminating window into Native American culture, as well its superbly sympathetic heroine, Cassidy. The following lessons learned along her journey promise to be a boon for any child’s development.

Stand Up to Bullies: What better way to begin a podcast for children than with a lesson about being brave and lending your voice to the voiceless? I watched my daughters’ eyes widen when, early in Episode 1, Cassidy stands up for her friend Jonathan after a schoolyard bully rips off his glasses and taunts him with Native American slurs. Later, in Episode 5, Cassidy uses her growing power to empower others when she confronts Smitey, a second bully who preys on those he perceives as weak. It is, I hope, exactly how my daughters would act in similar situations.

Use Your Ingenuity: Yes, iPhones and iPads have their place, but they wear out their welcome when kids can no longer rely on their own devices to entertain themselves, problem solve, or even check the weather (I knew it was time to course correct when my oldest daughter opened her weather app to gauge current conditions rather than look outside). Whenever Cassidy is challenged or imperiled, it is her quick thinking, creativity, and ingenuity – using her bike pump in Episode 4 to inflate General Frog and float to safety, for example – that saves her.

Just Do You: Sidestepping societal pressures, social media’s influence, incessant advertising, even parental expectations – and simply being yourself can be Herculean tasks for anyone, let alone developing children. Keep doing you, Cassidy, and keep wearing that Buffalo Bills jersey as long as you like. You were right on to tell Koko in Episode 2 that “girls can like football, too, and they don’t have to wear dresses and do their hair all fancy.”

Trust Yourself: Successfully navigating societal mazes so often comes down to how well we can evade untoward advice and negative voices – including our own self-doubt. Although Cassidy, despite her better judgement, follows Koko into a dangerous forest in Episode 3, she eventually finds her true north when she listens to her inner voice and trusts her intuition. “No, no. I’m not listening to you,” Cassidy tells all the negative voices she hears while making her way through a pitch-black cave toward the Giant in Episode 5. “I can do this.” she says. “I can do this!” Her words, I hope, will forever resound in my daughters’ ears.

Show Compassion: Standing up to bullies requires strength but, as Cassidy also demonstrates, so does showing compassion. “I know that sometimes people act mean because other people have been mean to them,” Cassidy tells the Giant in Episode 5. It’s Cassidy’s insight and understanding, as much as her bravery, that leads to peace and helps her accomplish the colossal undertaking of saving a village from destruction and restoring order to the universe.

Embrace the Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell rode out the Great Depression in a cabin, poring through ancient myths while discovering a recurrent, cross-cultural pattern in each he’d later call “The Hero’s Journey.” I spent much of my early adulthood reading Campbell’s works, and years later, admittedly, put my girls to sleep while attempting to relay their themes. I’m OK with that now, though, thanks to Coin Trick. While teaching and inspiring my daughters to learn more about Native American culture, it’s given them a worthy and approachable role model in Cassidy, a true hero who accepts and rises to life’s challenges, grows from her journey, and ultimately, uses that journey to benefit others.

Joel Centano is a writer, editor, photographer, avid Coin Trick listener, and Hero's Journey devotee, but above all, a dad.

Be Bold image: rawpixel

Superhero image: jpmsonline

#CoinTrickPodcast #parenting #HerosJourney #JosephCampbell #rolemodel #compassion #childdevelopment #antibullying #StompOutBullying #ingenuity #intuition #JustDoYou

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