Photo: Tribal Artist Society

Tribe Artist Society

By Meghan Power

“We help artists become their most powerful selves. Tribe Artist Society (TAS) is an Indigenous-led, Hip Hop and arts agency where all folk are welcome to participate in culture, create and be loud — whether that’s vocal, musically, or using Instruments.”

Dwight Good Eagle Farahat is an artist, rapper, poet, songwriter, arts facilitator, and social worker and most recently the Executive Director of TAS. “The power of creating spaces like this isn’t just in the great art it produces. Our goal is to create a space where folks can have fun and create, but at the heart of it, we’re building community. One of the ways we measure the success of our community building is by asking our artists, ‘Do you now have at least five people from our community you can talk to about problems you have?’ ‘Do you feel like you belong to a community?’


Farahat has long acknowledged that the needs for Indigenous arts spaces are different from non-Indigenous art spaces: “We need arts spaces that are run for us and by us. I don’t think there are any Indigenous-led public creation spaces in Calgary. Ceremony is also a part of our space. For example, our Monday night rap group begins with a feast, we smudge, and then we move into cyphering and jamming.”


“Calgary Arts Development (CADA) has been a huge support and believer in what we’re trying to create. It’s important for this space to thrive. CADA has shown us that they’re invested in TAS, and in helping us build a solid foundation with the funding we’ve received through the Original Peoples Investment Program (OPIP). CADA has helped us set the foundation to become a strong Indigenous organization. TAS is a young organization. And CADA understands that we’re still learning and building — for about six months TAS was funded by me and my family — so to have this financial support and a local granting body like CADA believe in us, and want to see us succeed means a lot.”


Right now, TAS doesn’t have an office or permanent home. But they still have a presence in the communities they’re working with. “We’ve been working with the Calgary Young Offenders Centre, Forest Lawn High School, Arts Commons and are hoping to be in a University in September. Our Lunchtime Rap program at Forest Lawn is an example of a program that’s for all students interested in learning how to rap and cypher — it’s a chance to come together and connect. We’ve also been working with the Indigenous Learning Lodge (ILL) at Forest Lawn, which offers additional programs and levels of support for Indigenous students.” The ILL has been working with Dwight and Elders Leroy Little Bear and Leroy’s wife Amethyst First Rider. They recently took the students on a field trip: “They’re learning from Elders about their land, their history and the Buffalo Treaty and how the return of the Buffalo is important to this land. Learning with our Elders is an important part of our culture. We need our knowledge keepers in these spaces too.”


Dwight sees continuing to build a solid foundation and gaining a better understanding of the funding landscapes in Alberta and Calgary as essential to TAS’s future: “We’ve learnt so much over the last two years and are still learning. We want to develop in a good way. Continuing forward with baby steps. We are gaining the right tools to hunt with, so we can have a healthy tribe and survive. This way we can leave TAS for future generations to build on and help the people.”