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COVID-19 Youth Campaign continues

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News from CSKT

PABLO – The Chief Cliff Singers drum group has been around for many, many years and now joins the COVID-19 Youth Campaign. 

Their new song, “You Stay Way Over There, I’ll Stay Way Over Here,” speaks about social distancing. Alec Lefthand, of Dayton, was the original drum carrier/lead singer for Chief Cliff Singers. He retired in the late 1970s and handed the drum down to Michel (Mike) Kenmille, of Elmo. 

Kenmille took the drum all over and worked on various projects, including a trip to Norway and a jazz collaboration with Don Pullen, and the group was made up of people who were family in some way. Mostly his nephews and son made up his next group of singers, and this particular group was invited to Vancouver, B.C., to perform at the 2000 Winter Olympics.  

Today, the group is made up of Kenmille’s younger family members. In the song “You Stay Way Over There, I’ll Stay Way Over Here,” the singers are Mike Kenmille; Stan Kenmille; Willie Andrew; Allie Kenmille; Gabe Caye; Elias Alexander; Marshall Doney; and Joey Quincy. 

Dancers in the video were Audrey Kenmille, 11, Fancy Shawl Dancer, Ksanka; and Leland Perez, 8, Prairie Chicken Dancer, Ksanka. 

“The song is about social distancing that I came up with a few months ago," Kenmille said. "As a drummer/singer, whether you realize it or not, you’re constantly composing song-after-song, tune-after-tune and finding meaning to it. That’s how this song came about.” 

“(I was) just cruising around, thinking about what’s going on in the world today, and that’s what came to mind," he contiued. "After that, all kinds of ideas started flowing for a video I wanted to record.” 

The COVID-19 Youth Campaign was driven by concerns that young people may not be responding prevention guidelines. A committee of tribal leaders formed to discuss strategies to raise the awareness among teens that they have the power to protect their elders, and what emerged was an innovative social media campaign aimed at the ages of 12 to 18.    

The first three artists utilized more contemporary styles to get their message across. The fourth release by the Pete Sisters draws heavily from their traditional Salish teachings in heartfelt songs. The campaign has featured other local artists including Kiid Truth, Foreshadow, Yvng Vin and the Pete Sisters who have all released original songs and videos that have drawn national attention.    

The purpose of the CSKT COVID Youth Community Care and Awareness Campaign is to create a culturally relevant COVID-19 awareness message for Flathead Reservation youth, which is built on themes such as #ProtectOurElders and #WalkTogetherWell in order to inspire youth to carry the themes to peers, involve family, and positively impact health and safety in the tribal community. 

The hashtags with the video are #ProtectOurElders, #fixyourmask, #csktcovidchallenge, #csktchallenge and #walktogetherwell. 

Music links to the current videos are with Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Facebook.

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