Lila Downs faced the one dilemma that many Native Americans experience at one time or another. While they are born into their heritage, they often have to move away from it to realize just how beautiful and meaningful it really is. Although ashamed of her Native blood during her early years, she came full circle to fully embrace the rich heritage that made her who she is.
Lost and Found
When Lila Downs first started performing, she wanted to distance herself from anything native. In doing so, she went to the extreme. She changed everything she possibly could about herself that would allow someone to identify her as native. Blond hair and vagabond lifestyle served a purpose for many years, until Lila began to change how she perceived her world.
Embracing Her Heritage
As Lila’s perspective began to change, she realized the importance of identifying with her heritage. She returned to her roots and became fully immersed in what it meant to be native. Her song, La Patria Madrina, gives testament to the fact that she had returned full circle to her cultural heritage. Now, Lila’s culture is visible in all of her work. Her dedication to traditional themes in both music and dance has made her one of the most unique musical artists of her time.
Although Lila’s culture was lost to her for several years, its return has gained her insight into her own people as well as the world around her. Today, she embraces and cherishes the culture and heritage that was almost denied to her. Her culture and the traditions it contains has allowed her to create herself in a way that her people can be proud of. As she continues to move forward in her career, her native roots have become her most powerful inspiration.