University of North Carolina Asheville to host “Activating Indigenous Beats: Hip Hop Nativo” Festival

by Mar 30, 2023A&E, Happenings0 comments

The University of North Carolina Asheville is hosting the “Activating Indigenous Beats: Hip Hop Nativo” Festival and Residency on April 11-14. The week-long event will welcome Indigenous hip-hop artists, mural artists and a DJ from North and South America to campus to celebrate hip-hop culture and highlight the power of music and literature as tools for promoting awareness about Indigenous and African American realities in Abiayala (the Americas). The event, in partnership with the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Asheville hip-hop artists and community leaders, is free and open to the public.

Originally scheduled as part of the 2019-20 Cultural Events Series,“Activating Indigenous Beats: Hip Hop Nativo” was canceled due to COVID-19. However, the festival is now back and will bring together leaders of social movements such as the Mapuche struggle for their land in Chile and Indigenous Feminism in Mexico.

Indigenous artists from the U.S. as well as Chile, Mexico, Ecuador and Guatemala will share their music, art, language and culture, through performances, workshops, and community engagements. The festival includes master classes and workshops that are open to UNC Asheville students, staff, and faculty, as well as the Asheville community.

“This trans-Indigenous gathering will be historical in the sense that distant Indigenous languages will meet in Cherokee territory, and UNC Asheville will be the host of this groundbreaking festival,” said Dr. Juan Sánchez Martínez, associate professor of Spanish and American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and the festival’s co-founder.

Sánchez Martínez teaches classes such as LA 378 Race, Identity, Belonging and Cultures in the Americas, which delves into the themes of the festival and promotes awareness and understanding about Indigenous and African American realities.

On Friday, April 14, the festival culminates on the UNC Asheville Quad with headlining performances by Indigenous hip-hop artists Luanko Minuto Soler, a member of the Mapuche of south-central Chile; Mare Advertencia Lirika, a member of the Zapotecs, the Indigenous people of Oaxaca, Mexico; and Tall Paul, an Anishinaabe and Oneida artist from Minnesota.

Additional performances, demonstrations and master classes will be led by artists such as Roderico Diaz, Kaqchikel photojournalist and documentary videographer; Cherokee hip-hop artists; kichwa visual artist Byron Tenesaca; Aztec dancers; members of Asheville’s Hip Hop community; and more.

“After years of involvement in a variety of trans-Indigenous projects among artists and writers from various native nations of Abiayala (the Americas), we have realized the importance of Indigenous hip-hop in dismantling stereotypes about indigeneity,” said Sánchez Martínez. “In bridging popular culture, political agendas, and spirituality, Indigenous youth have embraced rap, punk, and heavy metal since the early 1990s.”

Over the weeklong event, UNC Asheville students, staff, and faculty, and the Asheville community will engage in masterclasses, community workshops, and cross-cultural engagements. The residency aligns with UNC Asheville’s mission to support its campus community as they develop awareness, skills, and opportunities for collaboration and education that will better our engagement with community and global partners, bridging cultural awareness and understanding.

“Activating Indigenous Beats: Hip Hop Nativo” is sponsored by The Asheville Friends Meeting, The Center for Native Health, Key Center, NEH Professor, Humanities Program, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Office of Institutional Equity and Global Studies Program. For more information, including schedules and offerings, please visit

  • University of North Carolina Asheville release