Driven by concerns that young people may not be responding to COVID-19 prevention guidelines, a committee of tribal leaders formed to discuss strategies which might raise the awareness among teens that they have the power to protect their elders. What emerged was an innovative social media campaign aimed at the ages of 12 to 18. The committee then recruited Artie Mendoza III, aka KiidTruth, a Mission Valley area performer with a knack for rhythm and poetry.
“We conceded quickly that our younger community members may not be moved to action by fliers and news updates,” said CSKT Councilwoman Charmel Gillin. “We tried to think of targeted approaches using our grassroots resources to catch the teens’ attention. Social media appeared to be a natural channel, and so far it’s been incredible to see the energy building behind this campaign.”
KiidTruth created a new rap song with coronavirus phrases, “wash your dirty hands,” and “wear a mask.” When the audio was debuted for the committee, the impact was obvious.
“It was catchy. I think we all knew we had something special to share,” said Michelle Mitchell, CSKT Education Department Head. “Everything fell into place when we talked about putting out the song, a new video and a TikTok dance challenge. Local youth who make and post their own “challenge videos” could win $100 gift card for helping pass along the message.”
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. Youth “Challengers” will be asked to follow the artist they respond to (@kiidtruth) in their post and include the hashtags, as shown above, in order to keep message branding and momentum.
KiidTruth heard about the campaign and offered his talents immediately.
“I’m excited to be part of this. Anything I can do to get my fans excited about doing the right thing, I’m all for, and glad to help.”
The campaign will feature other local artists in the coming weeks.
Artie, as his friends call him, was born in West Covina Calif., and raised in Pablo, Montana.
BIO: I’m a descendant of the Flathead Indian Reservation. I didn’t have the ideal upbringing. I grew up in tribal housing surviving off commodities, and food stamps. There was heavy drug use around me and I was a troubled young man, always fighting and getting sent home from school. I found music as an outlet when I was 12. It was a way for me to express myself and it was better than talking to people about what was going on around me at home. I notice a lot of what I went through is everyday life here on my Rez for some kids. If I could connect with 4 or 5 of those kids maybe I could save them, save them from harming themselves and save them from wanting to try the things they see around them. I wanted to save them from using their environment as an excuse because if you put your mind to anything, you will achieve it. You just have to believe and that’s where I come in because if I can do it I know each and every one of them can. I’m the hope.
Artie Made The Name "KiidTruth ” at the age of 11 based on his age and in his music he spoke the truth. At the age of 19, Artie finished up his first mixtape, “The truth speaks for itself.” Artie's goal in music is to take his talent to the next level spreading positive messages throughout his music, and speaking about what’s going on right now, Artie is working on his second mixtape set to release July 2020!