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Hip-hop artist, champion dancer bring success stories to PECS

Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation hip-hop artist Supaman rocks a crowd of middle school students Feb. 12 at the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School cafeteria. Supaman also spoke to students about the importance of making the right choices and staying optimistic.
Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation hip-hop artist Supaman rocks a crowd of middle school students Feb. 12 at the Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School cafeteria. Supaman also spoke to students about the importance of making the right choices and staying optimistic.

BRIGHTON — The Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School community convened in the school cafeteria Feb. 12 to hear Apsaalooke (Crow) Nation hip-hop artist Supaman and jingle dress dancer Acosia Red Elk share messages of positivity and hope. For nearly two hours, the guests spoke about overcoming insecurities and unhappiness.

Supaman broke the ice by reciting popular catch phrases and pausing while students finished them. Laughs and cheers roared from the crowd. He then spoke to the students about the importance of making the right choices and staying optimistic.

Before Supaman, also known as Christian Parrish Takes The Gun, became a world-traveling motivational speaker and musician, he grew up in hard times on the Crow Nation Reservation in Montana. He was raised in foster care while his parents were in rehabilitation centers for their struggles with alcohol and drugs. Supaman said he wanted to take a more positive path in life.

“You gotta put your mind, body and spirit in the right place. Addictions and bad decisions can lead to bad habits,” he said.

Supaman said he became enamored with early hip-hop culture, which included break dancing, graffiti, DJing and songs that document lives filled with common struggles and occurrences. The Sugar Hill Gang was one of the first acts that caught his attention. Many of the original hip-hop artists spoke of injustices, poverty, crime and other problems that he and other Natives identified with from living on the reservation in Montana.

“It was like they were telling our stories,” he said.

Supaman explained how he dealt with feelings of abandonment as a child that resulted from his parents’ issues. He was moved from the family home to foster care and then back to his parents. Supaman was still a child when his father died.

“There’s enough negativity for everybody but not enough positivity in this world,” Supaman told the audience.

For more than 20 years, Supaman’s music has taken him across the world and given him opportunities to inspire and help many people. He was an MTV Artist of the Week, danced at a Macy’s Day Parade, and is currently on his Good Medicine tour.

“As Natives, we’re always about the people,” Supaman said. “We have to continue to build up our communities.”

For the first time, Supaman and Red Elk performed “Why” from Supaman’s album “Illuminatives” for the crowd. Supaman sang while Red Elk danced.

Red Elk, a member of the Umatilla Tribe from Pendleton, Oregon, experienced hardships similar to Supaman before she achieved success.

At 6 years old, she suffered third-degree burns from a fire incident. On her 8th birthday, her father passed away. As a result, she became insecure and harbored anger and emotional pain. Her connection to her Native American heritage strengthened in time despite being half-white and raised in a predominately white town.

When Red Elk was 16, she attended a pow-wow and watched Native American women dance in cultural attire, an experience that made her proud to be Native. One of her sisters gave her a jingle dress to dance in at a pow-wow. Although reluctant at first, she eventually agreed to it.

Determined to excel, Red Elk practiced profusely and eventually became an eight-time world champion jingle dress dance title holder at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow. Over time, she gained respect from many people, which helped self-love grow, she said.

“I felt confidence from within my culture. Dancing helped me to love myself. My connection to my culture brought me to all of these places,” said Red Elk, who has danced in every state except Maine.

Red Elk said many good things in life do not come easy, that people have to make things happen for themselves.

“You have to visualize change,” she said.

After the testimonies, students and faculty helped create a hip-hop beat by using a microphone. The sounds were recorded and played back to the crowd. One student won a Supaman album in a dance contest. T-shirts were given away.

“It was really powerful,” said PECS eighth-grader Julia Smith. “I liked that they told us to be good leaders and to not give up on our dreams.”

 

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Aaron Tommie
Aaron has worked for the Tribe since 2015. He is inspired by people who are selfless, humble, and motivated. His family is the most important aspect of his life and is a die hard fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. He came to work for the Tribe to show his appreciation to his ancestors for the blessings Tribal citizens receive based on their foresight and the sacrifices they made. He loves mysteries and conspiracy theories and is a huge on a great story line or plot in something that is supposed to entertain him.
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