Juliana Brown Eyes is a 27-year-old artist with a mission. She is a bass player for a band called “Scatter Their Own,” a photographer, and an activist dedicated to exposing native youth and people around the world to the beauty of Native American culture. Brown Eyes grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reserve in South Dakota and is a member of the Oglala Lakota, Sioux Tribe.
Music has mass influence on today’s youth. Artists write about love, hate, politics, beliefs, and so many more. Music can be an outlet for young people to be inspired and learn, but many today only listen to what is popular or on the radio. It is enlightening to explore music outside of the trend, especially for youth who may be lost or struggling with issues in everyday life. Juliana Brown Eyes puts a lot of thought and effort into her powerful lyrics in order to teach the Native youth of today that they can accomplish any goal they set their minds to.
Many of the songs that Brown Eyes writes for her band speak about concerns facing Native Americans and promote justice and peace for her people. One example of this is the band’s song “Taste the Time.” The lyrics in “Taste the Time” express how Brown Eyes and her bandmates are feeling about the current status of Native Americans in the US. They begin the first stanza with “times are so unkind for you and me,” expressing how life can be difficult for Native people living today, for example, the clean water crises, poverty on reservations, and high suicide rates among native teens (Huffpost). The song continues “If we close our minds we don’t see all the smiles and possibility”, which could relate to Non-native peoples oppressing natives, and not being open-minded to people who are different from them. However, given Juliana Brown Eyes’ stance on Native youth’s learning to love themselves, the band could also be urging Natives to open their minds to accepting their indigenous arts and practices. The final verse of the chorus states “If we lose those minds we may find all of the things we left behind, if we just taste the time.” If Natives choose to embrace their culture, they will be able to see how beautiful it is even in times of trouble. (Metrolyrics)
Brown Eyes and her bandmates also take a stance in the music video for this song. They tackle issues such as the shortage of clean water on many reservations in North America. The video ends with the band welcoming their heritage and doing what they love, which is playing music, showing youth that they can pursue their passions while still leaving room to connect to their native culture.
But Brown Eyes did not stop at making music. She fights for what she believes in by using multiple other mediums, including live performance, photographs, and videos on the internet. She uses many forms of expression to relay the beauty that she sees in her people and nationality. She does what she loves in order to take a stance and make the world a better place for Native Americans who may be experiencing hardship. In this way, she considers herself a “culture bearer” (TSW). Her photographs embody everything that it means to be native, from weddings to children to simply pictures of people expressing their heritage. (jbrowneyes.com)
Photo of Juliana Brown Eyes (on right) in her series “People” http://www.jbrowneyes.com/people
In addition to advocating for clean water in her music, Juliana Brown Eyes also had an active stance in the protests at Standing Rock. She was one of the first protestors of the thousands that came out in support of the Native people who believed that putting in the pipeline would be harmful to the water supply on a nearby reservation. (TSW) Through her activism work and music, Brown Eyes wants other Native American youth to know that they can do anything they put their minds to. “If you’re interested in acting, or modeling, or basketball, just keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s beautiful, just like you are” (Vimeo).
“Scatter Their Own – Taste The Time Lyrics.” MetroLyrics, www.metrolyrics.com/taste-the-time-lyrics-scatter-their-own.html.
“Meet Juliana Brown Eyes-Kaho.” Truths She Wrote, 8 Mar. 2018, truthsshewrote.com/home/2017/3/8/meet-juliana-brown-eyes-kaho.
“ABOUT ME.” Browneyesphotography, www.jbrowneyes.com/press. 2018
NoiseCat, Julian Brave. “13 Issues Facing Native People Beyond Mascots And Casinos.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 31 Aug. 2015, www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/13-native-american-issues_us_55b7d801e4b0074ba5a6869c.
“Scatter Their Own.” Vimeo, 2013, vimeo.com/79694679.