PJ Vegas, an Indigenous Rhythm and Blues and Hip-Hop musical artist — who is both a Native American Music Award and MTV VMA winner and the son of Pat Vegas of the iconic Native American rock group Redbone — has recently released a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking video titled, TEARS touching on the magnitude of the MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) crisis that has affected Indian Country.
Too many people who hear of the MMIW crisis, there are terrible statistics that demonstrate Native women are the highest rate of targeted victims of violent crime. In this case specifically, PJ Vegas’ own cousin and family were affected.
Vegas’ own cousin, Shantel Llamas was a tragic victim who at first was discovered to be missing and then later found murdered in Salinas, California.
In a way to cope with his pain and heartache, Vegas made the single TEARS as well as an accompanying video. The song/single won best independent artist of 2018 at the Native American Music Awards.
Vegas told Indian Country Today in an email the about the tragedy that affected his family.
“In 2017 my cousin Shantel was missing and later found murdered in Salinas, California. As my family sought out to try to find her, local law-enforcement would do nothing to help them in locating her whereabouts. Many days after she went missing, she was found lifeless at a hotel in her community. My family protested in front of the local police station and courthouse to try to bring justice to her killer who is a sex offender that had a 1-million dollar warrant for his arrest for failing to register. He was finally captured in San Francisco and brought to justice. This song TEARS, was my way of channeling that negative energy into something positive to bring awareness to these types of situations.”
Vegas also wrote that the message he wanted to convey with his video was “to bring awareness to the atrocities that are happening daily in our communities as Indigenous people.”
TEARS by PJ Vegas
“Not only for my family but for many families across the world that have experienced the loss of a loved one and discrimination from local law enforcement in regards to bringing justice to those who are responsible. I send a direct message to all the men out there: Do your best to protect the creators of life, “The Women.”
Vegas also told Indian Country Today he had not initially been fully-aware as to the extent of the MMIW crisis affecting Indian Country, but quickly learned about the devastation after the crisis had affected his own family.
“Regarding the MMIW movement, I later found out that every year thousands of women are missing and found murdered all over the world with the highest percentage of them being Indigenous. In most cases, these crimes are never solved or even looked into by local law-enforcement. To me that’s unacceptable! As an artist, I will use my platform to bring awareness not only to these issues but many issues in Indian Country that get overlooked.”
PJ Vegas also recently performed at the Indigenous People’s Day celebration in Los Angeles with his father as well as Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas.
For more information visit PJ Vegas / Native State of Mind Publishing: