Hip Hop Artist Comes to Downeast Maine
Frank Waln, Gates Millennium Scholar, College Graduate, and 3-Time Native American Music Award (NAMMY) Winner came to Downeast Maine on August 9th. Frank Waln is Sicangu Lakota, born 25 years ago an one of the poorest communities in the United States, the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Raised by his mother, Frank graduated as the Valedictorian of his high school class, and was deemed a Gates Millennium Scholar. In May 2014, Frank received the Chicago Mayor’s Award for Civic Engagement from Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois, and earned his Bachelor’s degree in Audio Design and Sound Production.
Mano en Mano assisted the Passamaquoddy Tribal Council at Pleasant Point with the arrangements for Frank’s Saturday evening performance and Sunday morning Talking Circle. Conceived as a way to help young people focus their spirits towards self-discovery and community belonging, Frank’s message was consistent. With himself as an example, he talked about setting goals, overcoming barriers, and achieving dreams. He stressed the importance of community and family. Even though his father was absent, his mother has been his greatest source of strength and inspiration. And though his community is poor, his participation in school and community was repaid with help from many of his neighbors and friends when he struggled to produce his music at his home studio.
Most importantly, Frank stressed each young person find their source of joy and drive in life. That, he said, is the clearest sign of direction, and the likeliest place to find their purpose. And that working to fulfill that purpose is what not only makes the world go ‘round, but rounds out and completes as a person each and every one of us.
Frank’s performance and talk was attended by four Migrant Education Program (MEP) students who participated in the 2014 Harvest Camp Get Away program this summer. As many also attended the B-B-Q at Roque Bluffs State Park that opened the harvest season. Nearly a dozen MEP students attended Get Aways to the University of Maine at Machias and the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor. The Get Away program increases MEP students’ awareness of of the world and themselves through experiences beyond the harvest camps.