CBC Digital Archives

Our Native Land turns ten

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.

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.

In February 1964, an air force officer named Russell Moses took to the airwaves in his part-time gig as host of a new CBC Northern Service radio show, Indian Magazine. The news show grew up alongside a resurgent native rights movement in Canada, becoming a provocative, politicized, all-native current affairs show called Our Native Land in 1970. This 1974 anniversary episode looks back on the show's first 10 years of programming - and chronicles the surge of Red Power in Canada from 1964-1974.
• "Our Native Land is Canada's only continuing national radio program for native peoples. I realize that programs about Indian, Métis and Eskimo people have been done before, but not with native peoples participating. They were being used, studied, analyzed and classified like rare butterflies." - Johnny Yesno, Our Native Land host, May 1971.

• One of the show's first hosts, Russell Moses, was a Delaware Indian from the Six Nations reserve. He signed up for the navy two weeks after his 18th birthday, seeking adventure and opportunity. Moses served with the HCMS Iroquois during the Korean War and didn't mind military life. "Having been raised in a residential school, I found naval discipline wasn't as strict. And the food was better," Moses said in a 2006 newspaper interview. When he returned to Canada, Moses, sporting his navy uniform, was refused service at a beer hall just outside the Six Nations reserve because he was native. He called it "character building," saying "either you're able to deal with it, or you're not."

Medium: Radio
Program: Our Native Land
Broadcast Date: Feb. 2, 1974
Guest(s): Howard Adams, Tony Antoine, Issac Bullyun, Harold Cardinal, Jean Chrétien, Jean Drapeau, Gene Lahache, Arthur Laing, Mary Ann Lavallee, Russell Moses, Alanis Obomsawin, Peter Seymour, Kahn Tineta-Horn
Host: John Barbarash, Barry Hussy
Resource: Johnny Yesno
Duration: 44:21
This clip was edited for copyright reasons.

Last updated: February 6, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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