Casper's brave underground sound

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PHOENIX, Ariz. - Casper's underground reggae sound on his new compact disc,
"Honor the People", examines the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and the
corporate root of the war in Iraq. The Hopi artist from Third Mesa
questions who won the last presidential election and how long before the
voices of truth are silenced in America.

"There are things that need to be addressed at all cost. My biggest concern
was that I might be jeopardizing my freedom, but somebody's got to do it,"
Casper Lomayesva told Indian Country Today.

The brave new sound of "Honor the People", Casper's third compact disc, is
a musical blade cutting into the truth of genocidal boarding schools, the
corporate seizure of Indian land and water and harassment by "Rez Cops."

"I'm surprised it got released, especially with the content," said Casper,
who performs with the Mighty 602 Band in the Southwest and nationwide with
Root Awakening, based in Santa Cruz, Calif.

"We're living in pretty rough times and it is going to get rougher. People
all over the world doing this music are under a lot of scrutiny. We have to
say something because in the near future we may not be able to without
being incarcerated or shot."

At 36, the CEO and founder of Third Mesa Music has already accomplished his
lifetime goals. Reggae sound and fearless lyrics set him apart. "I've got a
different path. I like to call it 'Underground Native,' because we go
beyond the beads and feathers."

Casper's message is respect for Indian sovereignty, human rights, honor for
women and respect for all races of mankind. He sends a special message to
Native youths: Stay in school and question everything.

"Question authority," he said, urging Natives to use their senses to
determine truth. "Don't listen to the crap the government is trying to push
down your throats; believe what your elders told you."

Why did a Hopi-Navajo growing up on Third Mesa choose reggae for his root
sound?

"I used to see the best reggae in the world right there on Hopiland. I'd
see these guys on stage and I'd say, 'This is my calling, this is who I
am.'"

These days he listens to everything from hip hop to jazz. One thing is for
sure, people everywhere are begging for positive sounds, wanting to hear
something to jump start life and live it to its fullest.

Casper said he is surprised at how far his music has gone. "I've
accomplished everything I set out to do. It's like therapy. It helps me get
what's inside my head out.

"We're all human beings. I'm just speaking as a human being in this time
and in this space. It is important that people speak up; the future is not
promised to any of us.

"You have to live today like it is your last day. I do."

With the steady beat of reggae, Casper sings, "Set up, set up, frame up,
frame up, set him free." "Brother Leonard," Casper sings to Leonard
Peltier, "Take it one step further ... so we will not forget."

In the title song, he sings, "Honor the people, 'cause your treaties are
unlawful."

He sings of decaying treaties and the trail of broken hearts, of genocide
and slavery, relocation and the stealing of the Mississippi and broken
dreams for the Shawnee and Chickasaw, Cherokee, Oneida, Apache and
Comanche.

Singing "Love Life", he remembered the suicides on the reservations, and
sang, "Love life, love life, love life again."

Breathing and living for the relatives, he sang for them to hold on to
life, "The value of life must be thick, not thin."

In a perfect world, he sang, there would be no more destruction. In
"Ideal," he says that his microphone and his lyrics are his only weapons.

"It's time to heal with positive thoughts, time to halt the injection of
the negative.

"Bringing positive music, that's my pleasure," sang Casper as he called out
the names of the places - New Mexico, Rhode Island, Quebec - of Native
people in his song, "If you're ready."

Casper said in an interview that he believes in the democracy of this
country and the hope that his ancestors died for. His older brother is
currently in the military in Iraq. Casper's father, brothers, cousins and
aunts, 20 in all, have served in the military.

Casper remembered his Hopi grandfather Sankey Lomayesva who nurtured him on
Third Mesa and remains with him in spirit.

In his "Last Train to Hopiland", he sang of the greed of world leaders, now
running cold, and said that if you're planning on riding the last train to
Hopiland, you had better run, run.

"Bring no baggage, just bring your soul."

Onstage, whether in a regular gig or sacrificing his own dollars to protect
mother Earth, like in the recent Winds of Change Tour, Casper's energy
never falters.

Reggae is always dancing in Casper Lomayesva's head.