Friendship Commanders Stonechild

November is Native American Heritage month, “Stonechild” honors the life of a Stonechild Chiefstick, a 39 year-old Chippewa Cree man who was part of a Suquamish Tribal community in Washington state and was in killed in 2019. Friendship Commanders is doing their part to bring awareness and show solidarity for indigenous communities. Three of the lyrical contributors on Stonechild are Native American, there’s a Suquamish woman speaking in Lushootseed, and the song honors the life of the Chippewa Cree man.

Friendship Commanders’ Buick Audra says, “Through a friend of mine who lives on the Port Madison Reservation, I connected to articles in local publications about his death, all of which I read with horror. My brain kept going back to the facts of the story: He was murdered by a white police officer . . . At the location where the community was gathered to enjoy the 3rd of July fireworks, at a waterfront park . . . Families with kids were everywhere and witnessed his death . . . And they still held the fireworks after he died. The song was written to acknowledge a life, question a death, and stand in solidarity with a community that has lost someone. We, alongside the people who knew him, demand justice for Stonechild. With this song, I am also asking questions to all of us about how we’re actually moving through this world, injustice all around us, systemic racism normalized and ignored. Are we helping, or are we hurting?”

On the video Friendship Commanders’s Jerry Roe says:

“Buick wrote such a great song in that, if you didn’t know the specifics of the story or Stonechild’s murder, you would still get the correct set of feelings, melancholy, and grandness that her words and thoughts about Stonechild intended to create. We wanted the “narrative” part of the video to get the same feelings across too. I feel like there’s a lot of confusion and displacement in his death, and his life was stolen from him by the colonizers much in the same way the land was stolen from his ancestors; with ego, malice, bigotry and a mindset of supremacy. I don’t subscribe to the belief that you’re in a better place when you die, or that there even is an afterlife, so I wanted to depict a sort of inbetween. An otherworldly place where he acknowledges that his mortality has been taken from him and he can peacefully let go.

As for the performance shots, Exit In was a logical place for us because we love that venue and it’s served as a touchpoint for our band at a vital turning point a few years back. The family that owns and runs it are on the correct side of things in local and state politics and are allies in general against the monopolization of live music and the destruction of local communities by developers, a threat that we all face with increased intensity in the current climate.”

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