Native Detroit: Q&A With SouFy and Hadassah GreenSky

Though they first met through Instagram, they were already connected by a shared heritage.

Raymond "SouFy" Pelletier and Hadassah GreenSky standing next to each other.
Raymond "SouFy" Pelletier (left) and Hadassah GreenSky (right) | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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Raymond "SouFy" Pelletier (Cape Croker Ojibwe/Sagamok Anishinaabe) and Hadassah GreenSky (Little Traverse Bay Bands Odawa/Fond Du Lac Ojibwe) are both multifaceted artists and the co-founders of Vibes With The Tribes – a Native American music and cultural festival. The annual event launched virtually in 2020 and is returning on June 1, 2024, in Detroit, Michigan (otherwise known as Waawiyaatanong, or “where the curved shores meet”). Pure Michigan sat down with the artists to learn more about their vision.

First, how did the two of you meet? 

Hadassah: I went fishing with a friend who is an Alaska Native, and we caught something like seven salmon up by the Platte River. We shared our catch with the community, so people were posting it on Instagram, and [SouFy] responded to a mutual friend’s Story. He looked at my profile and realized I was in Detroit. He set up a meeting, and one of the first discussions was about Vibes With The Tribes. He said, “I want to do this festival, and we can't do it without the help of the women.” Then he kept bringing me lunch every day, which was the way to my heart. 

That’s a great move! SouFy what did “we can’t do it without the help of the women,” mean for you?

SouFy: For us Anishinaabe people, the women are usually the leaders; they’re usually the ones that are doing the guiding. When I was trying to put it together, I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. It’s a respect thing.

To promote an event like Vibes With The Tribes, how did you reach the Native communities around you?

Hadassah: Our community is closely interconnected. Everybody is either family or friends or neighbors, and everybody knows each other to some degree. It’s been really cool in recent years to see a virtual community grow naturally – there’s Indigenous TikTok, Instagram influencers – so we tapped into that network.

Is your community centered in Detroit, or is it statewide?

Hadassah: It’s regional, like all of the Great Lakes and over the border into Canada.

SouFy: Detroit has a long Native history. Back in the 1990s, there were a lot more powwows, but now there aren’t many big events centered in the city of Detroit. That was one of the biggest reasons for doing the festival here – so we can put on something locally and be proud in our own local area.

When you say “powwow,” people may think about honoring traditions and rituals. But Vibes With The Tribes also seems to be about embracing modern Native culture. How do you bring those two perspectives together?   

SouFy: I grew up with both. Getting into hip-hop came from growing up in the city, but being raised by my grandmother, I always knew who I was. So it meshed together.

Hadassah: Futurism is not a new idea. The mindset behind what we're doing is really, really old. He's a rapper, I’m a painter, but when you break it down into the Indigenous mindset, we’re storytellers. That’s a spirit as old as time.

What is it like to be at a powwow or other Indigenous event where you’re in a space that's inhabited by people like you?

Hadassah: It's like being able to breathe for the first time. You’re in a space where people see you because they are you. It's such a deep feeling of belonging. You know, it’s only been since 1978 that we've been able to gather legally.* It’s taken us time to be in the open – and not only comfortable, but proud.

SouFy: I feel like I have a sense of responsibility. At the last festival, a friend of mine was crying because she couldn't believe our culture was happening in our neighborhood.

For non-Native attendees, what does it mean to be an ally at a powwow or other Native-centered event?   

Hadassah: There are people who make a good living traveling along what we call the Powwow Trail, whether they’re performing competitively or if they’re a vendor. It’s a modern version of nomadic merchant life. Vibes With The Tribes will have Native artists and food, so buy Native.

SouFy: Avoid cultural appropriation. Don’t wear a headdress because you may not be allowed in. A lot of people ask about pictures; we’re in public, and you can take pictures, but we’ll let you know when it’s not appropriate. There are times when everyone is invited to dance, but it’s not always an open dance floor.

Hadassah: Come as you are; be respectfully curious.

Vibes With The Tribes will take place on June 1, 2024. Visit VibesWithTheTribes.com to learn more. To learn more about Hadassah’s creative work, visit HadassahGreenSky.art. Follow them on Instagram at, @soufy313 and @coolwatergreensky.

*The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (AIRFA) (42 U.S.C. § 1996.) protects the rights of Native Americans to exercise their traditional religions by ensuring access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.