A heartfelt message to Lakota Country from legendary musician and human rights advocate Carlos Santana appeared on Vimeo recently from user Jay Roman and quickly went viral. Santana took #DearNativeYouth to a whole new level and reaffirmed his place in the hearts of many with his powerful message to our Lakota relations.
“I want to send a special message to my young Lakota relatives. The Creator has blessed me with a successful music career. But I was tested along the way; and it has been a long, hard journey to get where I am today – and life hasn’t always been easy or a piece of cake. Although our struggles can feel overwhelming, it’s important to remember that they are temporary.
“Every one of us will experience difficult times. What I’m asking you, my young relatives, is to help your classmates, your friends, and your relatives who are struggling. If you know someone who is depressed, feels alone, is pushing loved ones away, or admits that they want to hurt themselves – please tell someone who can help them. Tell a teacher, a school counsellor, a nurse, a coach, or a parent. You might be worried that this person will be mad at you. Maybe they will be for a short time; but your friend or relative will be alive. It’s OK to get help for others and it’s OK to ask for help for yourself.
“One of the things that I admire the most about the Lakota People is your compassion for each other. This compassion has the power to save lives. We are all related – and we must all support each other. Wopila for letting me share this message. Peace to you and your family.”
Santana’s video is an extension of his work for youth via his Milagro Foundation, with its “passionate belief that children everywhere deserve to live a life with full access to proper healthcare and education as well as opportunities to develop into creative human beings.” It was done as a public service announcement for the John Hopkins Center for American Indian Health (CAIH), with whom Santana’s Foundation is partnering for a new mental health initiative in Lakota Country.
“The Milagro Foundation’s grant to the Center for American Indian Health will go toward training teachers, school administrators, parents and community members on Pine Ridge in a proven methodology to identify youth at risk of suicide and guide them toward support, as well as build community-based prevention networks. The two-day interactive training includes role-plays and practice to make participants comfortable and equipped to play a preventive role in their community,” CAIH announced on their website.
“Support will also go toward engaging Lakota elders modeled (sic) on an effective program the Center has developed in partnership with the White Mountain Apache tribe in Arizona. The Apache have developed an innovative curriculum that connects children through elders to their heritage, traditions and culture, which has been shown to be a protective factor for youth.”
“We are grateful to Carlos Santana and the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health for reaching out to our communities during this critical time of need to help us reach our young people in proven and innovative methodologies,” said Alice Phelps, Principal of Wounded Knee District School. “All of this begins with the powerful message of hope by Carlos Santana himself in his PSA.”