Three generations of Potawatomi share knowledge across time and space, redefining what it means to truly speak again.
In “Braiding Sweetgrass,” Robin Wall Kimmerrer reflects on the loss of the Potawatomi language, and an experience at the Potawatomi Language Conference, when there were nine first-language speakers left at the time. Braiding Sweetgrass now has hundreds of thousands of copies in circulation, and during the pandemic, Robin was contacted by Jack Markell, the former governor of Delaware. Jack had written a poem called “Nine Remain”, inspired by Robin’s story, and contacted her seeking a Potawatomi artist to collaborate with, and to compose the music.
Robin connected Jack with Elexa Dawson (Citizen Potawatomi), who completed the composition, and edited for cultural context. The title was changed to “Speak Again”, to inspire a vision of the future where our language is brought back to our communities in a meaningful way. “Speak Again” was recorded at Lost Cowgirl Records (Jenna Rae and Martin Farrell), and mixed by Moonflower Sounds (Peter Oviatt). The single is being released through Lost Cowgirl Records.
Elexa was awarded the 2022 Artist in Business Leadership grant through First Peoples Fund to create a music video with Potawatomi director Nicole Emmons. Nicole combines various forms of stop motion animation to create a rich landscape of Potawatomi imagery for Speak Again. The video brings into focus the cycle of giving and receiving between three generations, and includes natural elements of traditional Potawatomi culture and society, and the medicine creatures that bring balance between worlds.
The song releases November 18th, and the video will be released on worldwide platforms November 25th.