United We Native

Kiid Truth (Artie Mendoza III), Foreshadow (Shadow Devereaux), and Yvng Vin (Vincent Bird-Webster) take five after their final live performance of the collaboration among them and the Pete Sisters Trio. 

Char-Koosta News 

The very successful Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes COVID Youth Community Care and Awareness Campaign recently completed its first phase and will be shifting gears featuring similar messaging with a new set of performers. A younger set than the opening group of performers, said Tribal Education Department Director Michelle Mitchell. 

The public awareness group will be casting a talent net out looking to snare new talent, younger kids in hopes of continuing the success of the effort featuring the Pete Sisters Trio (Sisi, Siliye and Susseli), and rappers Foreshadow (Shadow Devereaux), Yvng Vin (Vincent Bird-Webster), and Kiid Truth (Artie Mendoza III).

The first go around featured six performances that included one each by the Pete Sisters Trio, Foreshadow, Yvng Vin, Kiid Truth and the Chief Cliff Drum and the collaborative finale by first four artists. The video performances have been seen by hundreds of thousands of individual viewers worldwide.

On Saturday, the three rappers gathered at the scenic turnout south of Ronan to perform their portions of the collaborative finale with the Pete Sisters Trio. 

Mitchell said the group of performers serve as good role models for Flathead Reservation and beyond youth.

“The younger kids look up to these guys,” Mitchell said. “We will be featuring middle-school age kids in the next step in this; these guys are good mentors for younger kids.”

Mitchell said the COVID-19 youth awareness effort aimed at youngsters from ages 12 through 18 has been very successful. So successful that it will be a model for the Get the Native Vote Out effort.

Mitchell said the awareness group was approached by CSKT Tribal Councilwomen Carole Lankford about a similar approach to spread the message about the importance of American Indians registering to vote and then voting. The Indian vote in Montana can be the votes that swing an election. This election is as historic as the times we’re living in, and the most important one in more than a century.

“We immediately agreed to get on board,” Mitchell said of the group’s decision, adding that the first phase performers will be involved in the Get the Native Vote Out effort. 

Get the Native Vote Out is a national effort spearheaded by the National Congress of American Indians under its non-partisan Native Vote initiative. It does not endorse any candidate or support any partisan statements or endorsements by members of Native Vote.

Its focus is on:

• Voter Registration and Get Out The Native Vote (GOTNV).

NCAI recognizes that a strong grassroots effort is needed; and encourages all tribes, regional, and inter?tribal organizations to have a Native Vote coordinator. There is a need to get the community mobilized early, starting with registration, as Native Americans are unregistered at higher rates than other communities. To mobilize and assist tribes with the upcoming elections, Native Vote is providing toolkits, updating the Native Vote webpage, distributing e-newsletters and promotional items, creating Public Service Announcements (PSAs), and hosting telephone conferences, webinars, and trainings.

• Election Protection.

It is critical for voters to understand their rights, especially for those who do not actively participate in the political process. In collaboration with Election Protection coordinators, Native Vote ensures that every qualified voter has the opportunity to cast a ballot on Election Day. NCAI works with Native lawyers locally and nationally to assist with the Election Protection component of this campaign. In addition, NCAI is planning to distribute materials to assist all Native Americans in knowing their voting rights. This applies especially in response to new voter identification laws.

• Education.

This strategy is comprised of three pieces: 1) Assisting Native voters to be educated on the candidates and ballot measures; 2) Educating the candidates on the issues Indian Country cares about and encourage them to develop Native policy platforms; and 3) Encouraging more Native people to run for offices. Native Vote will be preparing materials to aid in this effort, working with regional organizations and other non?profits to increase voter awareness and education efforts.

• Data Collection.

Measuring the Impact of Native Vote. Data on voter registration and voter turnout for American Indian and Alaska Native people has historically been complex and incomplete. During the 2012 election NCAI attempted to measure data on Native voter registration and voting turnout, and uncovered a host of methodological issues. It is NCAI’s intention for the 2014 cycle to gather ideas on what we can accurately collect data on and what sources are available to Indian Country. We will share data collection and data tools with tribal leaders to encourage them to utilize these methods. Understanding the voting patterns of Native people is key to understanding the impact of Native Vote and better streamlining future efforts.

The COVID-19 awareness message for Flathead Reservation youth is built on themes such as #ProtectOurElders and #WalkTogetherWell in order to inspire youth to carry the themes to peers, involve family, and positively impact health and safety in the tribal community. The hashtags with the video are #ProtectOurElders, #fixyourmask, #csktcovidchallenge, #csktchallenge, and #walktogetherwell. Youth “Challengers” will be asked to follow the artist and, in their post, include the hashtags, as shown above, in order to keep message branding and momentum.

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