By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer (Choctaw Nation), Artist in Business Leadership Fellow 2015
Talon Ducheneaux-Shoots The Enemy (Cheyenne River Lakhota, Crow Creek Dakota) is a beatmaker, rapper, and producer. While his primary medium is hip-hop, traditional music plays an inspirational role in how he approaches art. Growing up several of South Dakota’s reservations, Talon bases much of his music on those experiences.
He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and now resides in Pierre, South Dakota. He is the founder of Wonahun Waste’ Studios/Records.
When he was a teen on the Crow Creek Indian Reservation, Talon would take walks and wish there was a music studio nearby, a place where artists could gather to create a sense of community. He was already making beats and keeping friendly rivals with other guys as they tried to find ways to make music and record it.
A few years after graduating with his bachelor’s and looking toward a master’s in Interdisciplinary Studies to make his dreams of a studio happen, Talon learned of First Peoples Fund’s (FPF) fellowships. He applied. Around that time, the Crow Creek Housing Authority approached him and asked what it would take to get a studio going.
Together, they worked out a space for a professional recording studio in the tribe’s telecom center. Talon received a 2019 FPF Cultural Capital Fellowship, which is helping sustain the work.
“It’s all the things that I’ve been passionate about and wanted to do,” Talon says. “With the fellowship, I can pass on the knowledge and tools needed for Native youth to express themselves, continue the art and culture, and remain here.”
He opened the studio for sessions, then watched in amazement as his dream took form.
“The studio has been exceeding my expectation on just the amount of voices, and the heart that’s been put into the songs,” Talon says.
Most of the people who visit are youth. He helps them record their messages as they look toward a compilation album, showing them their dreams are within reach.
Talon produced part of his latest album “Myosotis” through the studio and released it in March 2019, and watched the music community he wished for as a teen come to pass.
“When someone comes for their first time, they’re nervous,” Talon says. “But once they’ve been there 20 times, and someone new comes, they help them get through it, saying, ‘trust me, I know how you feel. Just breathe.’ They’re giving them those techniques, that mentorship. I’m really proud to see that because I didn’t need to encourage it. It was already there.”