Indigenous Biography

Bluesy hard rock is not usually associated with American Indians, but bands such as Indigenous prove to be an anomaly. Originating from the Nakota Sioux Nation, the members of Indigenous were raised on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota, USA, and include two brothers, Mato Nanji (vocals/guitar) and Pte (bass), a sister, Wandbi (drums), plus a cousin, Horse (percussion). An early major musical influence came in the form of the sibling’s father, Greg Zephier, a Native American rights activist and music fan, who turned his kin on to Carlos Santana, Buddy Guy, and Jimi Hendrix. The Indigo Girls’ Amy Ray asked the quartet to contribute a track to a benefit CD she was organizing, 1997’s Honor The Earth, which led to label interest in the band. A recording contract with the Pachyderm label soon followed, as did their debut, Things We Do, in 1998. A year later, Indigenous was asked to tour alongside bluesman B.B. King on his Blues Festival tour, that also included additional distinguished blues players such as Jimmie Vaughan, Taj Mahal, and Robert Cray.

Accolades soon began flooding in about Nanji’s exceptional guitar playing, earning comparisons to Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Further Pachyderm releases followed, including 1999’s Blues This Morning EP and the full-length concert set, Live At Pachyderm Studio, which only heightened the buzz surrounding Indigenous. For their third album, 2000’s Circle, the band hooked up with long-time Stevie Ray Vaughan friend and collaborator, Doyle Bramhall, who earned a co-production credit. Finally making the move to a major label, Jive Records, Indigenous issued their self-titled fourth album during summer 2003, an album that the band purposely performed together live in the studio.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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