Vocalist Chuck Billy of San Francisco Bay Area metallers TESTAMENT will chat live with Native America Calling‘s radio program “Native In The Spotlight” today at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific. Billy, who is of the California-based Pomo Native Americans, will discuss his Native American heritage and heavy metal career while fielding questions from listeners around the country.
A listing of local stations airing the program can be found at this location.
In 2010, Billy was featured in the “Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians In Popular Culture” exhibit at the National Museum Of The American Indian.
When asked about his upbringing, Billy told AOL‘s Noisecreep, “My father is Native American, and my mom is Mexican, and she also has some Native American blood in her. My father was raised on the Hopland Indian reservation, which is about two hours north of San Francisco. I was born in Oakland, California, and for the first five years was raised in Los Cerritos, California. After that, we moved to Dublin, California, and I pretty much grew up there. My father owned two properties there, and I remember going to the reservation a lot as a kid. When my father retired, he moved there permanently.”
Regarding his life on the Hopland reservation during the ’70s and ’80s, Chuck said, “There was just so much freedom on the reservation. I hate to say it, but they were just a bunch of wild Indians [laughs]. It was crazy back then. Our tribe and reservation is really small, and before we ever had a casino on the land, there wasn’t a lot of hope. There wasn’t any money around, and it just felt desperate. It was dire, especially with education and basic resources like that. The kids didn’t even have the basic stuff other kids have in the rest of the country. So a lot of kids didn’t even bother going to school.
“There’s always the stereotypical stuff about Indians being drunk and high on the reservation, and all of that stuff. And yes, there was a lot of that back then. But you can say that about a lot of other places in the world. If you have a situation as rough as it was for our tribe back then, you’re going to have people escaping into alcohol and drug abuse.”
“Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians In Popular Culture” exhibit photos: