Rocky Mountain College hosted the rapper Supaman on Jan. 25 in Losekamp Hall for an evening performance designed to spread awareness of Native American culture. Organized by Melanie Racine and Darrelyn Lefthand, who are members of RMC’s Native American Student Alliance, the show was scheduled for 7p.m.
Supaman, also known as Christian Parrish Takes the Gun, is a professional rapper and fancy dancer who is descended from the Apsaalooké or Crow tribe. Despite some early technical difficulties, Supaman performed to a packed assembly of RMC students, faculty, and Native Americans from the larger Billings community. The crowd in the Losekamp Auditorium was so large that the top balcony was made available for additional seating in order to meet the need.
After an opening song performed by students Kylee and Breanna Oldelk, Supaman’s son shared a Crow prayer. Supaman then briefly touched upon the history of the tribe and the original tribal land in Yellowstone County where Billings is now located. Supaman acknowledged that, “the lands we are on here in the Yellowstone County, even all the way up to Bozeman area, are all the traditional homelands of the Apsaalooké. You might not hear that being taught in the school system, so I feel it’s important to acknowledge that in my presentations. The connection with the land and water is always a sacred thing.”
Supaman performed his own original songs; some from his newly released fifth album called “Illuminatives” and some songs he freestyled. In addition, he entertained the crowd by telling jokes and displaying comedy routines in between musical numbers. During the songs, Supaman whirled and careened in the style of the men’s fancy dance. Speaking after the show, Supaman stated, “The dance I exhibited is called the men’s fancy dance, which is an adopted style of dance that originated in Oklahoma from the ‘horse dance’ or ‘crazy dance.’ It is the most contemporary style of Native American pow wow dancing.”
Supaman’s popularity stems from a unique performance that blends hip hop culture with traditional Native culture in new, innovative ways. Speaking on the topic of sharing cultures, Supaman put the spotlight on education and showing respect.
“Mixing cultures together is a delicate matter especially for Native culture,” said Supaman. “I think your heart has to be in the right place and your intentions must be positive. People who are from the Native community will always know whether or not you are genuine or whether you come from the community at all. Society needs to listen to Natives when it comes to appropriation like mascots, Halloween costumes, terms, etc. Most of the time people will just assume without consulting the actual caretakers of the culture. Education and respect is key.”
On spreading awareness, Supaman stated, “I think it is important to spread awareness of Native culture because of the miseducation and stereotypes that are still being perpetuated even to this day. I can go anywhere in America and still find people who think we don’t even exist or who have no clue about the true history of this country. Social media is a great way to spread awareness and to educate people using video and media outlets as well.”
Supaman makes a point to prepare his shows with the intent to make sure people laugh and have a good time. “Laughter and humor is a huge tool in bringing people together,” he said. “When you make someone laugh you create a close connection with them that’s even more powerful than music.”
For more about Supaman, check out his Facebook, Instagram, YouTube channel, and newest album “Illuminatives” now available on iTunes and Apple Music.