Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jaraneh Nova is a performing artist who fuses the essence of her Apache and Inuit roots with electronic and live looped music. She is a classically trained musician who has been creating musical “prayerformances” in the festival scene for over 15 years. Through her deep earth connection and lifetime of traditional Indigenous ceremony, she has embodied the ability to create ceremonial spaces. This ability, combined with her acclaimed vocals, has birthed a beautiful soundscape of unique, high-frequency music woven with rich American Indian textures and fused with inspiring lyrics, Indigenous chants, and deep-healing transmissions. Jaraneh says she has only just begun to release all the music that flows through her. You can hear her music on her website, as well as on the hit TV show “Outlander.”
“These are the times for which Indigenous wisdom will take the lead and offer the best medicine for a world gone mad. The music I have been creating for decades is medicine for the disconnected and disenfranchised. As a child of the foster care system, it is my calling to unify my relations who feel alone and overlooked. The heart of my music is woven with ceremony and prayer so needed in these days when the sacred bundles are returning home. My music is my prayer of unity and blessings for all life. At its best, it serves as a conduit that amplifies our connection to Mother Earth. And our earth connection is the cure for all suffering.” —Jaraneh Nova
What does the idea of “justice for Native communities” mean to you?
Native communities have been disenfranchised in so many ways, resulting in high rates of addiction, suicide, imprisonment, poverty, and preventable health issues. The silent agenda of genocide against Native people is still in full swing, attacking the very fabric of our culture, land, and identity. Yes, progress has been made, but most Americans are still unaware that Native Americans even exist, never mind hold the keys to the survival of our planet at this moment in time. So, justice would include visibility and sovereignty. Justice would eliminate any corruption that destroys our sacred Mother for profit, specifically mining and “resource” extractions that are damaging nature and humans. Justice would include acknowledgement of the 500-year reign of terror and genocide against the people and lands that we caretake in the Americas. Justice would eradicate abject poverty in Native communities and on reservations that are a result of straight-up thievery of our resources and land. Justice would eliminate poisoned food that causes a cascade of health issues and would support the reintroduction of original foods and practices that support our health. Justice would create a platform for the future that honors the old ways and models of how to live in concert with nature and natural laws, demonstrating how to live with and care for all life. Justice would support us in leading the world away from the cults of death, greed, and destruction, and into a world that honors all life and creation.
What do you think needs to happen in the world to achieve justice for Native communities?
We need to turn away from what we are being led to consume, whether it is media, fast food, material consumption, or hatred. An understanding of the level of sophisticated manipulations and corruption needs to be fully digested so we may clearly see the path forward — a new path with fresh ideas of sovereignty based on the wisdom of our elders. Above all, we need to deeply connect with Mother Earth and the Great Spirit within us for the inspiration and guidance to lead us into a new world and way of being.
How do you express justice through your artwork?
The frequency and messages in my music always come back to connecting with the Earth, with weaving something sacred together. My music conveys hope, empowerment, and the strength that comes from speaking the truth. I am always weaving a prayer into my songs. This prayer always comes down to our ability to create a new world together; to honor all life and turn away from the destruction caused by the sickness of colonialist patterns of domination and greed. In my art, I am always seeking to help others remember their sacredness and how to connect with our Mother Earth.
Is there anything else you would like to share about Native justice and your artwork?
My music today reflects my life’s journey in trying to find a way to make things right. How do we small and seemingly powerless individuals stand up to these mechanisms of destruction and lies that are running our planet? All I knew to do was to stay in ceremony and strengthen my spirit; to deeply understand my place in the cosmos and hold the vision of a world that honors our earth and all life. These are the messages and teachings that I live. All I knew to do was to put these feelings and words into songs. I know it’s not enough to change the world. But I also know that a small ripple initiated by a heart that is awakened and connected through my voice and music can create enough momentum to turn that ripple into a wave. A wave that one day may wash upon the sands of a new world where justice exists for all life. I am so grateful to First Nations’ social justice project for recognizing my life’s work and all I do.