There is a festival happening in Regina that celebrates the role of art and storytelling in strengthening and preserving indigenous history and culture.

"These guys had native blood." - Murray Porter

The 16th annual Sâkêwêwak Storytellers Festival is happening at the First Nations University of Canada.

A key part of storytelling in any culture is music. A song can tell the ancient stories, and it can capture the contemporary struggles. Consider these lyrics.

"He's a red man, singing the black man's blues, living in a white man's world."

That is part of a song from Juno-Award winning Mohawk musician Murray Porter.

Porter, along with his partner and manager Elaine Bomberry are taking part in the Sâkêwêwak Storytellers Festival, and were guests on CBC Radio's Morning Edition with host Sheila Coles.

The pair will be talking about the history of indigenous music and the role it played in sacred ceremonies, often outlawed by the Canadian government.

Porter said the songs and the ceremonies thrived underground.

"It was part of our soul; it was part of our thing."

Singing the blues 

But the two are also talking about the indigenous claim to a melancholic genre that many consider to be of black American folk origins.  

"In the early days of the slave trade, the slaves would escape and they would go to the Indian camps," said Porter.

"Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters, all of these guys had native blood because of this cross cultural exchange."

"We are reclaiming the blues. That's part of our own, that's what we've been doing for a number of years," added Bomberry.

The two are speaking at the festival today.

Murray Porter hits the stage with his Rez Bluez tonight in Regina.