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Hip Hop Angels Watching Over Indigenous Kids (Borders Be Damned!)

MC Redcloud of the Native hip hop duo LightningCloud has no time for those who want to block unaccompanied children from entering the United States. “Whites, they don’t care about these people; to them they’re from another world,” he says. “To the educated Natives, these people are our cousins. They’re the same victims of Columbus, Cortez, and colonialization.”

On August 27, Redcloud and his partner in crime (and life), Crystle Lightning, put on an event called Indigenous Angels, a benefit concert and auction for children fleeing the violence in Central America. (That's not all they did last week—the pair also picked up the Best Show/Live Performance at the Indigenous Legends and West Coast American Indian Music Awards in LA on August 30.)

The featured artists who readily donated original artwork to the cause included Bunky Echo-Hawk, Votan and Steven Paul Judd. The event was emceed by Native comedian JR Redwater, and performers included PJ Vegas, Azlan Underground, Ras United, and Aztec Dancers, as well as LightningCloud themselves. Red Cloud says he was overwhelmed by the positive response to the issue to the benefit.

To Red Cloud, gathering LA’s premiere artists for such an event had personal significance—his own indigenous roots stem from the Huichol Indian Tribe of Jalisco, Mexico. The number of unaccompanied youths caught at the southwest border has skyrocketed to 63,000 this year alone according to PBS.org.

LightningCloud all smiles on their way to their Indigenous Angels event. Image source: Facebook

Red Cloud grew up in LA and acknowledges that while a small contingent of immigrants may get a bad rap for violence, he knows firsthand that most of them risked their lives to get away from that madness for the chance to provide for their families.

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“I just can’t see how someone can hear about these thousands of children who come across, and have it go in one ear and out the other,” he said. “These are the most violent areas in the world like Honduras and Nicaraugua and El Salvador they’re fleeing. I mean, what does it take for one’s parents to send them thousands of miles away just so they can have a chance away from the violence?”

After their arduous journeys, Red Cloud said, they’re greeted by angry white protestors telling them to get out of their country. He adds that he relishes the opportunity to do something that supports indigenous youth while fighting institutionalized racism against them.

Artists contributing work to the Indigenous Angels auction included Votan of NSRGNTS. Photo courtesy MC Red Cloud.

“Racist people have a selective memory of where they came from,” he said. “These kids didn’t cross no ocean: they’re indigenous to Turtle Island. If you don’t have a heart to help them, you’re a damn racist. Fess up. Don't hide behind saying they're not legal. Whether you‘re a Jew or Christian or whatever spirituality, this is your cause and chance to do right.”

Although LA isn’t frequently thought of as an indigenous place, it has a tight-knit Native community that has become even more so since the Idle No More movement took off. They’ve kept that momentum going forward in causes like the benefit concert.

“If it’s for a good cause,” Red Cloud said, “the Creator finds a way for it to happen.”

To learn more about LightningCloud or contact them regarding Indigenous Angels, visit facebook.com/TeamLightningCloud.