SIX NATIONS – Decorated guitarist and songwriter Jaime Royal “Robbie” Robertson was awarded and honoured for the community of Six Nations first Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Six Nations Elected Council on Saturday, October 14 at the new Six Nations Convention Centre on Pauline Johnson Road.
“We are truly excited to recognize and honour Robbie’s many accomplishments,” said Chief Ava Hill. “He is truly an inspiration to many artists.”
The ceremony was seen as an opportunity for Robertson to honour his mother of Mohawk ancestry, as Six Nations was her home.
With half of his heritage rooted in Jewish tradition and the other Six Nations, it was the influence of his mother Rosemarie “Dolly” Chrysler Myke and her Mohawk family that put him on his musical path.
“This is where her roots were,” he said.
Robertson told the gathering that his mother, who had moved to LA to be close to her son, always remembered Six Nations and spoke of it fondly.
“She told me she wanted to be cremated after she died,” said Robertson. “I promised to bring her ashes back to Six Nations and pour them in the Grand River. But she said, no. Just put them in the Pacific Ocean. The waters will carry me home.”
Robertson remembered spending his summer visiting and learning from his relatives, but in particular, he remembered his visits with aunt Alice and uncle Doug at second Line and Mohawk Road, where they still live today.
“My cousins Herb and Fred showed me where to put my fingers on the guitar,” he recalled. “That was the genesis of my career.”
Seventy-four-year-old Robertson made a name for himself throughout his career playing alongside industry stars such as Ronnie Hawkins at the age of 16, Bob Dylan, and in The Band. He is now one of the most decorated legends in the business.
Names like Eric Clapton and the Beatles remain big fans of Robbie’s signature guitar style and song writing. Claptain and Robertson recently recorded together
He has released five solo albums and been the subject of a PBS documentary called “Making a Noise.” In 1980 he produced and co-starred in the movie “Carny.” He has penned countless musical classics including “Up on Cripple Creek,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” and more. Since The Band’s farewell concert in ’76, he has also created music for many Martin Scorsese films such as “Raging Bull,” and “The Colour of Money,” as well as working with Dreamworks as a creative executive.
His name has been immortalized as a legendary musician in Canada as he has won several Juno awards, been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, been made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award. The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he received awards at the Grammy’s, the National Academy of Songwriters and Native American Music Awards were also presented for his life time achievements. He was also recently in the documentary film Rumble.
Robbie honoured the guest artist who performed at the gala, including Santee Smith, who he called poetry in motion, Sadie Buck who he has recorded with, Mark LaForme who he said helped push for this honour, and Six Nations rocker, Derek Miller.
“I met Derek a number of years back,” he said. “And I knew this kid was a force to be reckoned with.”
He credits Six Nations as not only a musical hub, even when he was 14, but he also credits past great men, including the late Chief Arnie General, and Jake Thomas for teaching him his Haudenosaunee roots in the Great Law of Peace.
For him, receiving his Mohawk Nation Status Card for the first time was especially touching.
Robbie Robertson is a legend and for him to return to Six Nations on this occasion was especially gratifying for Chief Ava Hill who had the pleasure of introducing him.
He brought his own film crew with him for footage that will be included in his biography to go with his new book, “Testimony”.