VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Cherokee musician Michael Bucher has released a music video from a track on his independent album “Seven” titled, “Dirty Water.”
In the video, directed by Christopher Crosby, Bucher delivers a straightforward message: The growing popularity of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota is contributing to the deterioration of the sacred Indian site of Mato Paha, also known as Bear Butte Mountain.
Mato Paha has been a sacred ceremonial site to the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota people for generations.
Bucher’s compelling video, which illustrates the growing presence of motorcyclists at the Sturgis rally, has received national recognition. Most recently, the video received a nomination for Best Short Form Video at the 2008 Native American Music Awards.
This is not the first time Bucher has received notice for his music. He was a double nominee at the 2007 Native American Music Awards and a multiple nominee and winner at the Native-E Music Awards held last September in Albuquerque, N.M. All of Bucher’s award considerations were for music on his “Seven” album.
When listening to Bucher’s music, it’s obvious that Native politics are a driving force behind his lyrics. “Dirty Water,” is no exception.
The encroachment to any type of sacred Native land has never sat well with Bucher. The Cherokee musician, who still speaks and understands his Native language, had an uncle who told him, “to protect the sacred sites and burial grounds of our people.”
Taking his uncle’s words to heart, Bucher became a musician to educate and bring awareness to people about the desecration of sacred lands, prayer mounts and gravesites.
With “Dirty Water,” Bucher shows a correlation between the growth of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the desecration of Bear Butte Mountain.
As the popularity of the rally increases, so do the crowds that attend the events. Two drag racing strips, biker bars, a convenience store, campgrounds and housing developments are all located within a short distance of the sacred landmark. Helicopter rides in plain view of Native ceremonies on Bear Butte Mountain are also a popular attraction.
Development in the area is a literal tug-of-war between Native and non-Native people.
The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department manages Bear Butte Mountain. Its status as a national historic landmark prohibits development. However, the site is adjacent to the onslaught of the growing Sturgis biker population.
American Indian nations have purchased some adjacent land to the landmark, but the remainder of the surrounding area is ranchland. Some of which is being sold to local developers.
It is in the face of this development that is growing closer to Bear Butte Mountain, that Bucher has made “Dirty Water.”
“Even though Indian country has come a huge distance, if we don’t continue to protect what is right for all of us and educate all who we can, no one else will.”
Bucher’s video makes a powerful political statement as to how the celebrations in Sturgis affect Bear Butte Mountain. However, with everything considered, Bucher is still realistic; he does not suspect Sturgis will ever suspend or discontinue the motorcycle rally. All he wants is for Bear Butte Mountain to receive the respect and reverence it deserves.
But Bucher remains optimistic. “I spent a few days in South Dakota out on the streets and literally passed out flyers. The bikers there were extremely respectful.
“Of course, as I was leaving, The Broken Spoke, (a local hangout for bikers) which is near the base of Bear Butte, was packed. But, there will always be hope.”
Bucher explains that he is not against anyone that owns a motorcycle. He himself has ridden one for 30 years. “I’m not anti-biker. I’m just anti-anyone who doesn’t see and act on the significance of Bear Butte as a sacred site and behave accordingly.”
Bucher loves being a musician. He considers his musical talent a gift. “All I can say, is that I’m blessed.”
For more information on “Dirty Water” or the album “Seven” go to www.michaelbucher.com.