A Tribe Called Red exploded onto the Canadian music scene in 2010 mixing traditional pow wow music with cutting edge electronic music. They released a self titled album in 2012 which was included in the top 10 albums of the year as selected by The Washington Post and subsequently long listed for the Polaris Music Prize, one of Canada’s most prestigious music awards.
With their latest video release of the song titled Suplex and featuring Northern Voice, the rhythmic undercurrent carries along waves of song pulled straight from the history of this continent’s First Nations. In the video, they address issues of positive modeling and the lack of Indigenous role models in popular culture.
The highly compelling video follows the search for a hero in the wrestling ring and the inspiration to provide that face for others. As part of the new ‘war paint’ and rites of passage, young boys create balaclava masks and poise themselves to embody the spirits of strength and masculine identity. All of this is enacted through the elaborate theatrics of the luchador match in which the crowd is ready for the deathless sacrifice as an offering of hope to the world.
Rather than assuming that the search must be for models of white (or other) culture, there is a focus on the creation of exemplary insiders who can one day become great enough to be emulated by outsiders, just as the children of the tribes have done. In a particularly poignant moment in the video, rather than the ‘Indian’ who has a lone tear as he looks at the damage done to his land by the white man (a stereotypical advertisement created in the 1970’s as part of the Keep America Beautiful advertising campaign), the older, and wiser First Nations man looks on as the red headed child next door imitates the hero developed in the story.
While there have been the occasional native American participant in the extremely popular sport of wrestling, they have generally been forced to subsume any identity to an outsiders vision of ‘the Indian’ complete with tribal head dress. The native luchador, Suplex, who represents all of the images that have been placed upon the ‘Indian’ and the reclamation of such visual representation is now being offered as a 3D printed figurine.
The group worked with 3dphacktory to create the printed version of the 8 bit wrestler that is featured on their album cover. They are currently selling a limited number of printed versions that are signed and numbered and are offering the files to download for free.
There is something powerful in taking back and transgressing an image that has been imposed upon a person and the creation of this figurine echoes the message of the song. Allowing the files to be freely downloaded also frees people to modify and create their own. In other words, look to whom you would admire for inspiration, but always create yourself. Have you downloaded and printed this file out? Are you a ‘A Tribe Called Red’ fan? Discuss in the 3D Printed ‘A Tribe Called Red’ Action Figure forum thread on 3DPB.com.