Raven Kanatakta and members of Digging Roots recently stopped by CKUA’s Studio A to perform a session (minus Raven’s wife and bandmate ShoShona Kish who was en route to Alberta on a later flight). You can watch an acoustic rendition of the band performing “Wake Up and Rise” above. Our own Grant Stovel asked Raven to share the amazing story behind the band’s name. Here’s an abbreviated transcription of the story, as told by Raven on CKUA.
I couldn’t play music for about seven years, and traditionally for us that’s like a cycle. Even science wise they say every seven years you completely regenerate your cells. I couldn’t pick up a guitar. I had a hard time picking up a glass of water. I had severe carpal tunnel, tendonitis, always had to keep my hands close to my body just for circulation. It was quite painful. I’d seen about 30 doctors, specialists, and then I did the naturopathic route as well. CAT scans, all sorts of things. Nobody could really figure how to fix it. So I went to ShoShona’s res, and it’s in the Sioux. I went there, saw this medicine person, he took a look at me and was like ‘no problem, we’ll have you fixed up in a couple weeks.’ I was like ‘what? It’s been like 7 years just to let you know.’ He was like, “no worries, just come with me.”
I put a little packsack on, and we were going for a walk in the forest. He said ‘I just want you to bring a shovel and a bag.’ It was a medicine walk, and he was telling me how everything was connected. [He talked] about ‘these trees’ and how ‘they grow together’ and how ‘the roots intertwine and support each other’, and ‘those roots then, in turn, support these little smaller flowers and trees’. ‘It becomes this whole network.’ He said ‘they all sort of communicate on their own vibration.’
[He said] ‘you have to find your medicines.’ So, he’s like ‘that one right there is yours.’ I had the shovel and I dug the plant up. Then he said you have to put tobacco – which we call sema – down into the earth. And you talk to that plant, and you say ‘I’m going to take your life, and I’m going to put it into my life, and together we are going to walk in life.’ The tobacco is an exchange.
We took all these plants. I think there were about seven of them. Finally, the last one. He was like ‘You see those cat tails in the swamp over there?’ I was like ‘yeah.’ He was like ‘There’s these other plants right next to the cattails. I want you to get those ones.’ I was like, ‘are you serious?’ It was this swamp, I walked in up to my waist, essentially, in gucky water. Then I picked up this plant, walked out, and i was like ‘what a trip!’
The amazing thing is, he taught me how to clean all those plants. Then I boiled them, and a week later I could actually pick up my guitar and play a little bit. Then, a month later I was completely healed from it. That’s part of where the name Digging Roots comes from.