Hip-hop artist, three-time Native American Music Award winner, a Gates Millennium Scholar and now a recipient of the Mayor’s Award For Civic Engagement
Mid-May is cause for a lot of celebration amongst college students everywhere. Finals are over, graduation is here and it’s time to begin that next chapter in their lives. No one else seems to have more cause for celebrating than Native American artist Frank Waln, Sicangu Lakota from Rosebud Sioux.
He is already an accomplished hip-hop artist, three-time Native American Music Award winner, a Gates Millennium Scholar and now a recipient of the Mayor’s Award For Civic Engagement from Columbia College. Each year, one senior is selected to receive this award presented by the college president and provost.
“They chose this Rez kid,” says Waln proudly of his accomplishment.
Despite his young age, Waln has dedicated much of his life to the community and working on youth engagement and empowerment, both locally and nationally. Earlier this year, his was seen protesting in Washington, DC about the Keystone XL Pipeline and performing his original song “Oil 4 Blood.”
For the past year, he has worked with Chicago’s Title VII program to develop Saturday programming and clubs for youth that emphasizes open discussions of cultural relevance and self-expression through spoken word, songwriting and creative writing. With Waln, students are able to be around a positive AI role model and build their own confidence and communication skills.
Waln graduates this month with a Bachelor’s Degree in Audio Design and Music Production and plans to continue building his music career while working with Chicago’s AI community.
His humility is clearly seen in his demeanor and his refusal to remain silent about where he comes from. His music often reflects his Rez and mother. As part of commemorating his graduation, he has released a new single entitled “Born on the Rez.”
Free download of “Born on the Rez” by Frank Waln: