Rappin' the Rez with Hope

We are on a mission to inspire hope in Native American youth and give them a voice to be heard. There is a generation of Indigenous youth rising up and taking a stand against the negative stereotypes and circumstances that try to define them. They are speaking out against the misconceptions, embracing their cultural heritage and striving to break free from cycles of suicide, substance abuse, and violence that have threatened to rob them of their future.

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This passion and vision is what fueled our excitement to have the opportunity to join a variety of local sponsors in hosting an inspiring and power-packed concert given by award-winning Sicangu Lakota Hip Hop artist and music producer Frank Waln, from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. We are so thankful for those of you who generously donated and made this amazing event possible! The celebration brought several different tribes together on October 9, Indigenous People’s Day, to honor their rich Native heritage and take a break from the weight of their daily struggles. Those in attendance had the privilege of listening to Frank Waln as he shared his inspiring message of hope and encouraged the youth that anything is possible if they don't give up!

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Waln travels the world sharing his story through his powerful music and workshops focused on self-empowerment and expression of truth. He encourages Native youth to stay strong through the hardships, pursue their dreams, and not be defined by the negative circumstances they may be experiencing. Waln states, “The Native Hope event was a great way to spend Indigenous People’s Day. The turnout was outstanding for a concert on a rural reservation. There were babies up to elders in the crowd, and I think everyone, including those of us who performed, left happier and feeling better.” 

The following day, Waln visited the local schools, and he shares his heart saying, “The school visits the day after the concert were my favorite part of the whole trip. Getting the chance to connect to each student by sharing my personal story helped us all heal together. This whole couple of days [concert, youth council, school visits] were some of the most meaningful and relevant programming I’ve ever seen on a plains reservation. I’m grateful to have been a part of it all.”

Brian Perry, a Native Hope ambassador, states, “It was very gratifying to see people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds have an enjoyable time together. Events like this can bring us all together as one. Our commonalities are greater than our differences.” frank_waln_mom-509134-edited.png

“Frank touched the lives of all people in attendance. He magnified the strength our women have in our societies and that love and support can truly take you a long way if you let it. He also gave a history lesson and inspired hope into the younger people who were in attendance, realizing that most of us still experience everything they are going through right now in their lives,” shares Kansas Middletent, a Native Hope ambassador.

Erica Donner reflects on some of the highlights from the concert and says, “I loved seeing the different community members come together young and old. For myself, it was fun seeing my family members coming to support this event."

"Frank about had me in tears when he brought his mother up on stage and gave her a chair to sit and knelt down in front of her, holding her hand and looking into his momma’s eyes while singing his song he wrote for her….I swear it made all the Inas’ (mothers), who were there, hearts melt! When he finished, the first voice I heard was my own mother’s as she screamed and cheered for him. J, my auntie, who stood beside my mom was in tears as she connected to the song with her own son. Frank was fun to see on stage as he took passion for his music. Such an awesome performer!”

Our work at Native Hope would not be possible without our monthly supporters, who have joined us in the Circle of Hope and those who supported this concert. Patricia S., one of our donors, shared:

"Awesome music and message. My hope is that Native American nations thrive and the people understand how sacred they are and how much they are loved. Keep walking the red road and being positive warriors no matter what!"

We would love for you to join us as we continually strive to equip them with the tools and encouragement they need to have a true vision for their future, one where they can fulfill their hopes and dreams. Together, we can empower a generation to break the cycle of abuse and impact the world around them. 

Learn more about life on the reservation