Wayquay performs during Native American Heritage Month


Actress, artist, poet, singer and songwriter Wayquay will perform in two free concerts Tuesday at the Campus Union Ballroom at Eastern New Mexico University.

The concerts are sponsored by ENMU’s Native American Affairs department as part of a month-long celebration during Native American Heritage Month.

Wayquay, whose full name, Swangideed Wayquay, means Lady Unafraid, is of Ojibway, Anishnabe descent. She was raised in rural Pennsylvania and moved to New York with just a few dollars in her pocket to “find herself,” her Web site reads.
According to an ENMU press release, Wayquay’s music is a mix of blues, funk, hip hop, rock, poetry and nature.

She was nominated for five Native American Music Awards. Her music video “Navigate” won best music video at the 22nd annual American Indian Film Festival.

She has been featured on “CNN Worldbeat” and “Good Morning Live” in Montreal, and helped open the Reservation X exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum for the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Her first performance, at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the ballroom, is for local junior high and high school students.

“There will be 300 seventh- through 12-graders attending,” said Wayquay.

“Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes” is the name of the event, and Wayquay explained that there will be poetry, video and music as well as an open mike session where students and others attending can perform their own music and poetry.

Her second concert will start at 6:30 p.m., and another open-mike session will follow.

The performer says her concerts are typically a lot like “a living room hangout.”

“I have a lot of elders in my life that I sing about, and it (the concert) tells a story about our culture,” Wayquay said. “There is a book that was written called ‘Lady Unafraid,’ and my great-grandfather is one of the characters. I share a lot from the book because it dispels the myths of what people think of Native Americans.”

The concert will showcase music from her new album, “Ghost-flower,” which will be available soon.

“We are going to be soulin’,” Wayquay said. “I am not a rapper, but a souler with my poetry and music.”

All events sponsored during the month by ENMU Native American Affairs are paid for through American Indian taco sales and donations, according to Native American Affairs Director Utahna Livingston.

“All of the (public) events are free,” Livingston said.

Wednesday was the start of the Miss Native American ENMU pageant, which continues through Friday when the winner will be crowned.

There will be several Native American speakers throughout the month, including Kenneth Geinausaddle who will talk about the history, laws and belief of peyote.

“I cannot wait to see everyone come out and get together and learn,” said Wayquay.