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Battiest brothers music video wins at AIFF

Seminole brothers Doc Native, left, and Spencer Battiest perform Oct. 16, 2019, at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

Spencer Battiest and Doc Native’s music video of their song “Dream” won first place at the 46th annual American Indian Film Festival (AIFF) on Nov. 5. The best music video award came on the 10th anniversary of their first win in the same category for “The Storm.”

The brothers, from the Hollywood Reservation, were presented with the award during a virtual ceremony.

“It’s good that people are still responding to us as performers and what our message is. ‘The Storm’ was basically a history lesson; ‘Dream’ is who we are today; we are giving ourselves a pep talk,” Battiest said.

“Dream” is about overcoming life’s struggles. The brothers wrote it together; Native wrote the rap verses and Battiest wrote the chorus and the bridge.

“Some of the things we have to face given the complexities of where our people are nowadays, things that aren’t really talked about are coming to life, like mental health and community issues,” Native said. “I’m thankful we were able to lend our voice as a conduit and use our platform to stand with everyone.”

Seminoles Paula Bowers Sanchez and former Miss Indian World Cheyenne Kippenberger appear in the video as well as other Native Americans, including two-spirit couple Sean Snyder and Adrian Matthias Stevens, Tourette’s Syndrome advocate Bryson Jones, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, actor Wes Studi and musician Taboo.

While the brothers were in Los Angeles celebrating Indigenous People’s Day by singing “The Storm” on the steps of Los Angeles city hall Oct. 13, 2019, they met director Adam Conte. After working with him during that day and viewing his work online, they agreed he would be the director for “Dream.”

All three recorded acceptance speeches for the virtual ceremony. Battiest was in Hollywood, Native was in Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and Conte was in his Utah studio.

Adam Conte, director of “Dream,” during the virtual American Indian Film Festival awards. (Courtesy image)

“To be recognized again is really fulfilling,” Native said. “We still have this chemistry between us, not only as brother but as songwriters and artists. It’s such a rare thing. It holds a special place in our hearts when I see other families working together and achieving goals together. I’m happy I get to do it with my brother again 10 years later.”

The last two years has been an interesting time for Battiest and Native, who have performed only in virtual performances and at virtual festivals. In November, the brothers made appearances at five festivals, all virtual.

On Nov. 23, the duo is scheduled to perform in person during a halftime show of a Los Angeles Clippers game at the Staples Center. They will be part of a show that celebrates Native American heritage.

Native plans to release an album in early 2022 and is scheduling a tour. Battiest will perform in a play “Distant Thunder” in Oklahoma next year; no date has been set. They plan to perform together at the Seminole Tribal Fair and Pow Wow in February.

“We’ve been stuck inside for about two years,” Native said. “It’s time to go out and reach people face-to-face, as safely as possible.”

Despite the pandemic, the brothers are in the midst of exciting times for their careers.

“I love this business so much,” Battiest said. “You go through ups and downs and never know what tomorrow will bring. You just give back your gift however that is, in person or Zooming from your home.”

The AIFF is part of the non-profit American Indian Film Institute, whose mission is to foster understanding and appreciation of the culture, traditions and issues of contemporary Native Americans.

“The award shows we are still relevant,” Battiest said. “People still relate to our music. We are still doing what we were put on earth to do; inspire and encourage.”

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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