2007 - 2021

Indigenous Survival in the Era of Global Corruption

Griogair Labhruidh writes for Bella ahead of our ceilidh at the Glad Cafe on 25 October  with music performance and discussion on gaelic revival and political insurgence and the importance of indigenous resistance.

Recently I spoke with Bella Caledonia about an event to be held at Glad Café, Glaschu (Glasgow) on Wed 25th October which will see the launch of a series of articles I intend to write in both Gàidhlig and English for the publication. For this event I will be hosting a talk/discussion about my own work not only as a musician but as an activist for Scottish independence, Gàidhlig language and cultural revival, environmental issues and the struggles of the indigenous peoples of the world. This activism has seen me increasingly engaged with people around the globe who are facing similar struggles to our own who have had much to teach me about various approaches not only regarding their important work but also with respect to maintaining sanity and strength in these exceptionally turbulent times.

For much of my twenties I lived and worked with the Gaeilge speaking community in Ireland, where I became increasingly aware of the massive difference in approach between Irish cultural and linguistic revival and the one being taken here in Scotland. With over 100 years behind them as an Independent Republic, Ireland has certainly had time and power to make real, lasting positive change to its cultural landscape encouraging a sense of identity which to some degree incorporates the indigenous language and culture into the fabric of the nation. During this period I was also able to engage on a more local level with Gaeilge speaking communities in the West of Ireland and see how the language was being grown at a community level.

Connections I made in Ireland also brought me to the Basque country where again I witnessed a very different approach, one which to a large degree, like the North of Ireland in particular incorporated revolutionary, progressive ideas into its linguistic and cultural agenda. This connection with another linguistic group who have their own unique cultural identity and language in Southern Europe helped broaden my horizons to see Gàidhlig as part of a global struggle against cultural colonisation.

Another important connection I made was with a couple who have now become very close friends and are part of a community of indigenous North Americans who live around the Klamath and Trinity rivers of North California. Their visit to my small farm here in Baile Chaolais a’ Tuath (North Ballachulish) had a lasting impact upon my ideas on culture and helped form the basis to my approach to this day. When performing at Glastonbury with Afro Celt Sound System this year I was privileged to meet and work with representatives from the Wadjuk Nungar Nation, Australia and Lakota water protectors from Standing Rock, U.S.A. who also shared their ideas and experiences with me.

This year also saw my first visit to see my friends in North California where I was given an induction into a great many ideas about culture, history, colonisation, indigeniety, environmental issues, globalisation and the great challenges being faced by the people of the world who have an ancient and sacred connection to both the land and its culture. Upon this journey I have become convinced that any activism of this kind without some kind of spiritual basis behind it can lead one to despair and questions have been raised regarding the relationship between Scotland’s movement towards securing independence, the wellbeing of Scotland’s indigenous people, the preservation of our language, music, our ancient sacred culture and landscape.

Join me on the aforementioned date to discuss these very important issues and hear some of the songs, stories and ideas that form the basis for an ancient, sacred and spiritually connected sense of Scotland and how our struggle relates to the shared experiences of indigenous peoples worldwide.

Get your tickets for the ceilidh night here.


See more of Griogair’s work at his site here. 

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Comments (7)

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  1. Duncan P. Mitchell says:

    The Highlanders’ Institute (Aitreabh nan Gaidheal) was an important part of Gaelic and Highland culture in Glasgow for over 50 years. Unfortunately, the premises were sold in 1979. Since then, the Saturday night ceilidh dance has continued as
    The Highlanders’ Club and the next dance is on Saturday 28th October in Partick Burgh Hall from 8pm to 11pm. Further details from Duncan Mitchell 0141-339-9679

  2. Seumas MacDhòmhnall says:

    Tha Griogair Labhruidh barrachd air seinneadair barrail!

  3. Alastair McIntosh says:

    Thank you for carrying this work. Gutted to be missing the Glad Cafe event (working away). Do drop in on the GalGael Trust (near Ibrox subway) where we are similarly recovering the indigenous spirit as a healing of broken identities, disconnection from nature and deficits of sense of belonging – trying to take care to do so in ways that include both the stranger (“Gal”) and the heartland people (“Gael”) to try to help restore the flow of life to all.

  4. Hirplin Yowe says:

    Please do remember that the Gaelic culture is only one of the indigenous cultures of Scotland. Folks in Orkney, Shetland and the Doric heartland are also struggling to preserve their identity against the neocolonialist tide. Would be grand to hear and read more about the diverse tapestry of tongues and traditions that enrich this peerie country of ours…and celebrate all that binds us.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Correct. The writer conveniently forgets the Scots language, in his biased singular statement on “the preservation of ‘our’ language”. Gaelic language today is largely a state subsidised middle class urban bourgeois fashion. The vast majority of ‘ordinary’ Scots are still awaiting a ‘Scots Language (Scotland) Act’ which the SNP has steadfastly refused to deliver because of its fear of the msm media response. Yet state enforced ignorance of Scots language is the real remaining cultural colonial oppression, and rectifying that would represent a policy that would lead to sufficient Scots No voters overcoming the cringe to take us over the line in any future referendum. Gie Scots fowk bak thair ain mither tung an thay’ll shuirly tak thair ain naition bak an aw, swift-lyke tae.

      1. Surely both language traditions can respect and support each other Alf?

        It’s totally unnecessary to attack gaelic in this way and does absolutely nothing to promote Scots.

        In the past some of our finest poets and writers came together to translate and publish together and to act in cultural solidarity. That’s the way.

  5. Alistair MacKichan says:

    Griogair lists an impressive list of connections among indigenous communities around the world that have been/are being “colonised” from without. The exercise of power and influence by expanding national groups, with genocide of overtaken national groups has been a universal dynamic in human development. If we can now see this expansionism into territory previously held by others as wrong, and dominance of one culture over another as wrong, citing spirituality as a fundamental force for restitution of the wrongs, then yes, music and the arts should express this. Just a word though on the revival of Celtic music : the dreamy, vapid music of Clanadd is absolutely not the music of a vibrant, artistic, ceilidh-loving people: it seems to me difficult to rescue the bombastic music of the bhuran and the clasach from among the genuinely-felt laments of loss and heartbreak for all that was, and is gone. Flower of Scotland captures a bit of the spirit. Caledonia doesn’t really.

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