Rebel Music: Native America

Practitioner: 

Date: 

May 26 2013

Location: 

South Dakota

Frank Waln, a 25 year old Native American hip hop artist, tours the country and Canada performing and teaching motivational workshops to students across the country. He took to rap at a young age when he found a cd (Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP) on the side of the road. Growing up on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation of South Dakota, he realized that the hip hop music genre was an outlet for expressing pain and frustration. He completed his BA in audio arts and acoustics from Columbia College in Chicago, where he began to create his own tracks raising awareness of Native American struggles and oppression today. When he left home to pursue higher education, he was surprised to find that many people were far removed from the poverty, violence, exploitation, and oppression still prevalent on many Native American reservations. His music helps set the record straight regarding perceptions of Native Americans today.

In the short time he has been active in the music scene, Waln has become a role model and musical influencer in his own right. In an interview with InTheseTimes, he explained "Growing up, I didn’t have mentors around my age, but I definitely had elder mentors who believed in me. I think it’s important that we see people who look like us and come from the places we come from being successful in their own right and doing what they love. By doing what I do, I’m setting an example and just trying to be there for Native youth in any way I can. The Lakota name given to me by my elders is Oyate Teca Obmani, which means “walks with young people.” This came in a ceremony a couple years ago and it’s the path I’m supposed to take. Walking with young people is where I’ll have the most impact"

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