The scene is the pedestrian bridge over U.S. Highway 93 in Pablo. In the midst of a gaggle of dancing kids, a younger hip-hop artist raps out a critical message:
“I pull my masks up to my face so I do know that I’m straight…. I wash my fingers within the sink, I ain’t taking no danger,” sings KiidTruth, within the video for his new track, “C19” – the primary effort in a marketing campaign in opposition to COVID-19 waged by Native American tribes in Montana.
To protect their susceptible elders from the Corona Virus pandemic, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are enlisting musicians to inform tribal youth to wash their fingers and put on masks.
The track by 25-year-old KiidTruth – often known as Artie Mendoza III – garnered greater than 1,500 views on YouTube within the 4 days after it was posted.
The music marketing campaign “is a wonderful approach to attain youthful folks,” mentioned 15-year-old Alishon Kelly, who lives on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwestern Montana. “I’ve seen so much of my friends posting it and watching it.”
On the reservation, which has a inhabitants of just below 30,000, the stakes are excessive. If the virus spreads to the group’s elders – who’re at a better danger of creating life-threatening signs – the native language and customs may very well be in peril.
“When it comes to our elders, we’re at all times round them, we’re at all times with them,” mentioned Mendoza, who grew up on the reservation. “They’re a sidewalk away.”
Tribal Councilwoman Charmel Gillin mentioned: “Tribal communities are very distinctive in some ways, however one of the methods is that we’re a folks with a spoken language, oral histories, and all of these features of our heritage are actually in want of preservation. The elders in the neighborhood carry these for us.”
The reservation has not seen a big quantity of COVID-19 instances. The tribes introduced final week that 4 Flathead Reservation residents have been identified with COVID-19. The space has seen a complete of 9 instances for the reason that onset of the pandemic, and no deaths.
But as Mendoza sings, “My fellow Navajos been coping with the illness.” Leaders on the Flathead Reservation watched with concern because the Navajo Nation’s caseload mounted in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, the place greater than 6,000 COVID-19 instances have led to greater than 300 deaths.
“We have been realizing the potential for excellent loss and that actually places us in the next gear in making an attempt to determine what to do,” Gillin mentioned. “We have slightly bit of a bonus in being on this distant rural space in Montana so we will observe what’s occurring round us. We want to use that to our profit.”
According to Michelle Mitchell, head of the tribes’ training division, the marketing campaign will broaden to function quite a few native artists in coming weeks. Local youth who create their very own movies will compete for $100 present playing cards.
“Our guiding work is for the youth right here on the reservation, however that doesn’t imply our children over right here can’t problem the children from Blackfeet,” Mitchell mentioned. “They may launch these challenges themselves and take it in to different Indian communities. That could be fairly cool.”