Field Notes – SCATTER THEIR OWN: New Rock from the Pine Ridge Reservation



It was a pleasure to meet Scatter Their Own: Julianna, Scotti, and Scotti Clifford Jr. near their home in the badlands of the Pine Ridge
Reservation in southwest South Dakota. You can learn more about these gracious and innovative Oglala Lakota artists and their music here:

Following is a partial transcript of the interviews.


We play like contemporary alternative blues type of stuff. And our songs are mainly about…just writing about preserving mother earth, and just about our
culture, and our music, in a contemporary sense of alternative music.

I work on finding that median between being professional, and of course like having some time to really reflect on life, and just incorporate that into my
own music, too.

There certainly is expectations there to fulfill expectations of that Native image, but for me, personally, I just try to be as authentic as possible, and
I’m just trying really hard to just shape myself as an individual, in a sort of all different aspects, and I just wanna become like the most genuine artist
that I can be.

(In response to question about the dramatic number of teen suicides on Pine Ridge)

I think that the matter of atmosphere really comes into it, like a big crucial part of like the effect it has on our youth. Like…we’re one of the like most
poverty stricken areas in America, right? So I guess like atmosphere really does have a key factor in the disposition of everyone really.

For the most part for inspirations we’re basically, you know, similar to other artists in the music industry. There’s not much that differentiates us from
other people doing the same. You know, we’re just people, like them.


That’s kind of our focus, live performance, but really what that equates with is us to the crowd. And that could look like anything, and right now we’re
trying to get away from like “people of color” to “people of culture”, so if we can be a people of culture, that makes everybody accountable and
responsible. Everybody can come to the world table. There’s no black or white excluded from the other colors, so we can focus on culture, and that just
takes a continuum of us moving from town to town or state to state. Even up in Canada or overseas.

Basically we just wanna focus on culture, because everybody’s indigenous to some part of the globe. But we’ve lost that somewhere along the way.

For me, like I said, the landscape itself, it’s really important, because I’ve written a lot of songs and a lot of lyrics, about how it is here. Of course
it’s very arid and dry, and there’s a song we have, it’s the title track of our last independent album that we put out, it’s entitled “Taste the Time.” And
when things are very dry, and you live in a micro-desert area, right in the southwestern part of South Dakota, you appreciate water. And you appreciate the
little things. And also growing up, and hearing my grandfather hoping and praying that it’d rain more, because, you know, historically,
Oglalas were put on this piece of land, right on a hard place to grow any crops.

It’s like a food desert here. There’s no produce. There’s no fresh anything.

(JULIANNA CLIFFORD) There’s not even any grocery stores.

(SCOTTI) Yeah, so it’s hard on Pine Ridge Reservation to eat healthy, you know, so you’re forced to grow things, if you can, you know, so
Taste The Time basically talked about water pollution, how sacred water is to us as Lakota people, but also how precious it is for everyone, whether you’re
Lakota or not, so ‘taste the time’ really just represents the time that we’re living and can we really taste a clean stream anymore? Like how my
grandfather said they used to drink from the creeks. You know? We can’t do that anymore.

And so we need to be once again as clean as water. Because we are water. That is something we believe in. So we need to keep our water clean, because we’re
only as healthy as our mother. We could mean our mother earth, but we could also mean our mothers. Our sisters. Our daughters. Especially our wives.

So I think my relationship to this land, it’s almost an urgency that we get these messages out. Because before too long there’s gonna be badlands
everywhere. You know? We grew up in the badlands, so we know how to suffice at this point. But soon badlands are going to be everywhere.


Scatter their Own is a loose English translation for the word “Oglala,” because we are Oglala Lakota. And so we asked a couple of the elders here on the
reservation if we could use the name, and so we took it, and so we represent our tribe when we go and tour nationally.

For me, I think it’s influenced me in the decisions I’ve made in my life, because pretty much we’re in the middle of nowhere. And I grew up…really hard.
And I grew up in different situations that a normal suburban kid wouldn’t have to have dealt with. And it made me work harder.

There’s not a lot of…there’s no music taught on the reservation. There’s no instruments here. So I feel that has a lot to do with…that has shaped us…has
shaped me as a person.

Here on the reservation, family is key, I mean, family is everything, and this is all we have – our land, and our family and our culture. And just to pick
any name, I mean, it would need to mean something to us…especially if we would go out into the U.S., or wherever, and perform, we’d wanna represent our
people beautifully, and because there are a lot of beautiful people here, and so we want to pay homage to all the people that are here.

As a band, and as parents, we really try to bring culture with us on the road, so we take our family on the road, and as we like to say, we pack up our
tipi, we’re a modern day Lakota family, we literally chase buffalo, which are the gigs, and we teach our children how to hunt, by touring, and we teach
them about money as an aspect of a touring act.

Not to sound ethnocentric, but, I mean, Lakota culture is very beautiful and to go around the country and realize that a lot of people don’t feel the love
from their family like as we doI mean my grandmother…I grew up in a very maternal home, and it was ran by women, and there was a lot of

I wanna be able to share our beauty that we have here on the reservation with the world. Everyone belongs to the earth. The earth does not belong to us.
And that’s something we believe as a couple. We try to teach our children that, and through our music, lyrically, we try to teach other people that.