These Indigenous artists say there’s more to life than being ‘left on the reserve’ – 2017 North American Indigenous Games

Montana Summers hasn’t been dancing all that long, but he’s ready to play to a packed 9,000-seat venue — in front of one of his favourite childhood pop stars.

Summers, 19, has been tapped to perform alongside a handful of young dancers at the July 16 opening ceremony for the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto. 

Summers only noticed his dancing chops about four years ago, but now he’s busy rehearsing for the show, headlined by Indigenous rapper Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas. 

Montana Summers wants to tell the world about Oneida and Haudenosaunee tradition. (Supplied by Montana Summers)

“It’s great to see Taboo doing that, giving us hope within the arts,” Summers told CBC Toronto.

“You see some people who get off the reserve, and it’s rare for them to come back and inspire their communities.”

‘There’s a whole world out there for you’

Summers himself wants the same.

“I hope I inspire the next generation to see that there’s more to it, more to the world, than being left on the reserve,” he said. “Thinking that this is the only place to be, when there’s a whole world out there for you.

“You see a lot of kids who turn down the wrong path because they feel like there’s no way out.

“But when you have some outlets like this, and you have these opportunities, you really do give that hope to our people.”

For Summers, dance is reconciliation in action.

“It builds a bridge for everyone else to see our side of the story,” he said.

“We use modern and traditional teachings to say to the world, ‘we want to look for a better future with you guys.’ We want to send a message to say, ‘we’re capable of doing the things you are.'”

Montana Summers says an upcoming Indigenous Games performance is a chance to show First Nations youth that they’re not defined by negative stereotypes. (Supplied by Montana Summers)

Not all of next month’s performers are relatively new to the skill.

Karahkwiiohstha Feryn King, 23, has been performing the Smoke…

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