Full Name:

Duke Redbird

Occupation / Title:

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Date of birth:


Date of death:



Saugeen First Nation, Ontario, Canada


Duke Redbird was born in Saugeen First Nation, Ontario.

Redbird is an accomplished writer, filmmaker, scholar, and artist. He is also an educator across Canada, collaborating with several schools to revise curriculums with the objective to decolonize the school system.

Family and early life

Born in 1939 in Saugeen First Nation, Ontario, Redbird was raised in a residential school run by Christian missionaries. He stated that the mission of the residential school system was “to kill the Indian in the child without regret.”

Career outline

In the 1960s, Dr. Duke Redbird began his career as an actor and poet and became a political and social activist advocating for Aboriginal and Métis rights. He prominently performed spoken word poetry at folk festivals and coffee houses. He was also featured on The Tommy Hunter Show in 1970, marking the first time an Indigenous poet was featured on a country music program.

In 1969, Redbird directed the animated short, Charley Goes to Town. Lightly satirical, it addresses the stereotypes placed upon Indigenous Peoples and the notion for Indigenous youth to fit in with the cultural mainstream. It won the Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago Film Festival the same year.

In 1973, Redbird directed a TV program called To Walk with Dignity, which discussed the struggles of communication between Indigenous communities and their white administrators in terms of the latter’s use of overwrought, elitist language.

Duke Redbird served as the Vice-President of the Native Council of Canada from 1974 to 1976 and President of the Ontario Metis and Non-Status Indian Association from 1980 to 1983.

From 1994 to 2009, Redbird was a CityTV reporter in the Arts & Entertainment division.


Witnessing how the mainstream culture in Canada barred Indigenous Peoples from their rights yet also appropriated their heritage and traditions without any consultation with those peoples, Redbird wanted to represent the First Nations from his first-hand knowledge growing up as an Aboriginal person in Canada.

Honors and awards

Silver Hugo Award in 1969 at the Chicago Film Festival


Hunter-Tilney, Ludovic. “Forgotten legends of Native American music.” Financial Times, 2014.

Lynskey, Dorian. “Forgotten Native American musicians: ‘We could have been the next Nirvana’.” The Guardian, 2014.

External Links:

Duke Redbird official website.

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