Carl Quinn, singer and songwriter, dreams of the day when once again the Nehiyowewin or Cree language, will be spoken on a daily basis by all children on the Saddle Lake Reserve.
His paternal and maternal great-grandfathers were notable warriors who fought to protect what was theirs during the time of inter-tribal wars. They were present when the peace treaty was confirmed between the great Blackfoot Confederacy and the Nehiyo Iyino in 1872. His paternal great grandfather, as the Chief of his band, signed the adhesion to treaty number six in 1877 with the British Crown because he saw that the days of the buffalo were gone and a great change was to take place. Subsequently, his grandparents and then his parents settled for life on the Reserve
Born in a dirt-floored one room shack, Carl's life on the 'Rez' was, while not comparable to white folks beyond the reserve boundaries, filled with the richness of his culture. While his parents struggled to raise their large family on the Indian Reserve, he was left to explore and learn the world as his ancestors had. Running water meant running down to the creek with a bucket. While money was always an issue there was plenty of game to feed the family.
The musical influences began with the drum, the chants, and the social songs of the pow wow and round dance. A traditional dancer, Carl continues to sing with the Pisimoyapi drum group since the group's inception in 1989. He also follows the powwow trail in Canada and the U.S. He traveled with a drum and dance troupe to Europe and to New Zealand.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, John Lennon and the Beatles, Dwight Yoakum, Leonard Cohen and others have had an influence on the evolution of his music. The genre, self-described as "New World", is an eclectic assortment of pop, rock, pow-wow and electronica.
The youngest Chief ever to be elected on Saddle Lake Reserve, Carl was on the political front serving as Chief and then Headman for a total 16 years. During his term as Chief they were able to; build a high school, community centre, pave graveled roads, install street lights and a fully functional community based radio station that broadcasts to residents.
Carl sings of life, love, and values. The song 'Pakamapiskwewin' from the album "Nehiyo" is golf from a humorous perspective. The ballad 'Ka Sipihkosit Atahkos' the blue star, speaks of the resilience of the Nehiyo; despite centuries of colonial aggression. Governments and their policies, the black robe, child welfare agencies, led the assault on the Nehiyo identity. The techno sound of the song 'Nipin' is summer and the Nehiyowewin language meant to be lively and fun
First people's language, particularly his own Nehiyowewin, and their disuse are of great concern for Carl. His music is meant to inspire, entertain and perhaps even stimulate others to use their mother tongue. He says, "as fluent speakers of our tongue the talk is not ours to keep, but, it belongs to the newborn. We must pass the torch as it has been passed to us..."