Sihasin combines rock with the hoop dance in ‘Shine’
Sandra Hale Schulman
Coming off winning two Native American Music Awards, the brother-sister duo Sihasin, Dine’ out of Flagstaff, Arizona, are debuting their newest video for the song Shine on Indian Country Today off their record Fight Like A Woman, produced by Ed Stasium and Sihasin.
The video was shot at the scenic red rock landscape of Leupp, Arizona, by director Jake Hoyungowa and features Clayson Benally and Jones Benally, the duos' father, performing a Hoop Dance while sister Jeneda, wearing sparkly rock swag with her turquoise jewelry, sings and wails away on the bass. Clayson plays percussion, drums, and sings.
Jeneda Benally says Shine is about inspiring youth with energy and strength, a prevalent message that runs through all of Sihasin’s music.
“We created Shine as a way to empower youth and to come together as Indigenous people. We should nurture our youth as we nurture our adults and elders, they are all possibility,” Jeneda Benally says.“The important thing about this music video is we wanted to show the importance of carrying on our legacies or our culture, the combination of contemporary ideas in a traditional world. We want to keep the importance of a traditional message," said Jeneda.
Clayson Benally, who joins his father in showcasing the hoop dance said he wanted to “show a connection to tradition” and demonstrate “the special healing of Dine’ culture” in hoop dancing.
“In Hoop dance, we move through life in beauty, to have ancient Dine’ values from my dad and just having the ability to have a connection to ancient tradition values, It's power. With hoop dance, you go through it one step at a time, one hoop, it’s life,” says Clayson.
Watch Sihasin’s Shine here
The band has been busy touring the new album the past year, with appearances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They travel to festivals in Europe every summer and often tour with father Jones and their four young daughters who are learning and performing the traditional dances to add a third generation to the legacy.
The matriarch Berta Benally came out of the 60s folk scene in NYC and Los Angeles where she worked with Peter La Farge and Jackson Browne, acts as “Momager” to the whole family. In concerts they do a set of Sihasin rock songs, then a traditional dance set as the Jones Benally Family Dance Troupe. The band recently won a Global Music Award, an international music competition that celebrates independent musicians.
Back in Flagstaff, the family bond continues, as they live near each other on two sprawling ranches and make frequent trips to Black Mesa on the reservation where they were born. A newly built ceremonial roundhouse lodge resides in the back. Clayson has a recording studio and a warehouse where they keep all the instruments, dance regalia and mementos of decades of tour life such as the equipment cases bassist CJ Ramone gave them after Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band The Ramones' last performance in 1996. The band recorded with Joey Ramone before his death and now Ramones record producer Ed Stasium produces their albums, and Stasium won a Nammy for their song Fight Like A Woman.
They frequently perform benefit shows for Native rights locally and show up for peaceful protests against such issues as the Arizona Snowbowl that is using reclaimed wastewater to make artificial snow for skiers. Their shows are all ages, with “no discrimination of any kind.”
At the Nammy award ceremony in Niagara, NY Jeneda wore a bright red dress to commemorate the MMIW, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Some progress was made recently on that front as the President signed into order an investigative task force.
It all comes back to the premise of the song and video Shine about empowering youth and the next generations, to keep the traditions rooted and fight for the future. Being recognized for such personal music, art and political views “feels really good” Jeneda says. It’s incredible progress when the band can “celebrate our identities as indigenous people without fear from the government or censorship”.
Vincent Schilling contributed to this article.
SIHASIN / (See-ha-sin)
Dine’ word- to think with hope and assurance. The process of making critical affirmative action of thinking, planning, learning, becoming experienced and confident to adapt.
Brother and sister, Jeneda and Clayson Benally of Blackfire from the Navajo (Dine’) Nation in Northern Arizona have created their own unique brand of music with bass and drums. They grew up protesting environmental degradation and inhumane acts of cultural genocide against their traditional way of life. Their music reflects hope for equality, healthy and respectful communities and social and environmental justice.