CBC Digital Archives

Our Native Land: On the pow wow trail

On Saturday afternoons for 21 years, dedicated listeners would "get their bannock and tea," and tune into CBC Radio for news from Our Native Land. The first - and so far only - national radio program focused on native issues and cultures, it chronicled the rejuvenation of native literature, art, culture and political activism beginning in 1965. Hosts included Johnny Yesno, Bernelda Wheeler, Albert Angus and Brian Maracle, who were part of the all-aboriginal production team.

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In the summers of the 1970s, native youth are escaping the "plastic" city in droves. Thumbs out, they head to reserves, follow the powwow trail or just hitchhike cross-country. Many seek to celebrate and learn the "old ways of Indian people." Our Native Land catches up with a young couple and a middle-aged woman on the powwow trail to find out "why they go, what they learn and what they teach each other."
• Native youth on the road were part of a larger Canadian phenomenon in the late sixties and early seventies where up to 100,000 students, hippies, draft dodgers and drop outs thumbed across the country each summer.

• In 1969 some 50,000 travelers hit the road. By 1971, the secretary of state, Gerard Pelletier, announced the "transient youth phenomenon" had reached epic proportions and launched a National Hostel Program. Part of the Trudeau government's effort to engage young radicals, more than $500,000 was doled out to youth groups and municipalities to open 116 makeshift hostels from Newfoundland to the Yukon. The program lasted until 1976 with up to 100,000 young people traveling each summer. From a set of old railway cars in Port-aux-Basques, N.L. to a 60-bed outfit in Whitehorse, transients ate and slept for "50 cents a day or whatever they could afford," according to an online article for the summer 2008 issue of The Walrus.

Medium: Radio
Program: Our Native Land
Broadcast Date: July 13, 1974
Announcer: Lloyd Henderson
Host: Bernelda Wheeler
Duration: 18:15
This clip has been edited for copyright reasons.

Last updated: February 6, 2012

Page consulted on July 9, 2014

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