Noah Simon is a 9-year-old boy in Canada who performs traditional music of the Cree with his family, often as part of a hand drumming group called Chubby Cree.
The Cree are one of the largest groups of indigenous people in North America. Before the arrival of Europeans, they lived in an area that stretched from Lake Superior (in what is now both the US and Canada), across North Dakota, all the way to Montana, Ontario, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories.
European explorers first met Cree in North America in the 1660s, but the expansion of the United States and Canada forced Cree and other First Nations (indigenous) people onto smaller and smaller areas of land. As a result of a series of battles with the armies and government of these countries, the Cree were defeated in Canada in 1885. In both the US and Canada, First Nations Peoples who were moved onto reservations set up by the government often had to leave behind their long-time homes and their way of life.
Indigenous people in the US and Canada still hold pow wows (social gatherings involving singing and dancing while wearing traditional regalia which can last several days) as a way to honor and keep their cultures alive today. The United States made such gatherings illegal from 1921 to 1978, and indigenous people gathered secretly to share and teach the songs and dances they held onto. Each tribe and region has its own dance, musical, and regalia traditions and etiquette, so the music they make is a way to assert and celebrate their group’s unique identity while still being part of a larger celebration.
Noah Simon learned to sing as a baby from his great grandfather and grandmother and has been singing with his grandmother and mother almost all of his life. He and his family have performed as part of several protests, including protesting for the environment with Greta Thunberg in October 2019 and performing for homeless shelters.
Here is a video of him singing round dance music or a “roundy” in October 2019. Many of these songs have no words (they’re just vocalizations), but this one includes a repeated verse in English (“Come on everyone Get up and dance Don’t be shy tonight Quit standing by the doors Hit the floors Young and old —- I’m gonna rock your world”).
Noah’s mom runs a Facebook page and TikTok account where she posts his videos.