Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

By Michael Barrett

Suicide Prevention Presentation held at Red Lake Humanities Center - P3

Arnold Thomas spoke about suicide prevention and intervention


On Monday, March 26, 2012, a suicide prevention presentation took place at the Red Lake Humanities Center. The event featured a prayer ceremony conducted by Spiritual Elder Larry Stillday, healing songs by the drum, an introduction into the Youth Leadership Conference by Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Chairman and the suicide prevention and intervention presentation by Arnold Thomas.

The event kicked off the the Sixth Annual Red Lake Youth Leadership Conference which will be held Tuesday through Thursday March 27-29, 2012 at the Red Lake High School. The conference theme this year is "Miikanaakeyang Giniigaanayi'iiminaan" (Making a Path for Our Future),

Bringing the issue of suicide into the Youth Conference was an idea brought about from the students of the Red Lake Youth Council, Jourdain had said. It was their idea to address that issue because they felt it was needed.

Allowing students to have a voice was one of the reasons the council was started in 2005. Their goal was to make a better life for tribal youth.

According to his biography at White Buffalo Knife Consulting, Arnold Thomas is My name is a member of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation of Idaho and Nevada. Since 1991 he has been speaking to communities throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Topics discussed are important social issues that directly effect people on a daily basis. He combines both personal experience and research data to convey his message.

In High School, Thomas was recognized as one of Nevada's elite football and basketball players. His goal was to play collegiate sports. As schools in the Western United States began recruiting him, he was well on his way to achieving that goal. He dreamt of becoming a professional athlete and it seemed within reach.

In the spring of his sophmore year, his father committed suicide and the death had a great impact on himself and his family. He lost all harmony and balance, and he was out of control, turning to alcohol and drugs.

One summer night he stuck a hunting rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger. The gun shot wound severely damaged his face and left him completely blind. He was unable to speak for several years, but he survived and slowly began to put the shattered pieces back together.

Since 1988, Thomas said his journey has necessitated learning new life skills which have gone beyond the daily demands for living. On May 7, 1999 he graduated from the University of Utah with a Masters degree in Social Work and bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He has held various leadership roles such as: Native American Spiritual leader conducting healing ceremonies for The George E Whalen Department of Veterans Affairs and Utah State Prison System and president of the Intertribal Student Association at the University of Utah. Also, has been a cultural consultant for various national, state and city programs, coached youth basketball and football teams and received a variety of national and state awards. For a good number of years he has been a Northern Traditional pow-wow dancer, as well.

(More information see: Suicide Survivor Arnold Thomas To Kick-off Red Lake Youth Conference

Taking on suicide: Guest speaker aims to share message about prevention, intervention

Thomas is scheduled to to speak and conduct workshops during the 3-day Youth Conference.

The Youth Leadership Conference starts Tuesday, March 27, 2012, with registration starting at 8:30 AM, Opening Ceremonies are scheduled also around that time, facilitated by Chance Rush, that include prayer/smudge and honor songs.

Chairman Jourdain and Youth Council President Shauntay Roy will present welcome addresses, followed by guest speaker Arnold Thomas, before workshop sessions begin at 10:45 AM.

Workshop Sessions for the 3-day event include: Teen Pregnancy by Inez Jasper; Living a Positive Life Style with Mylo Smith; How Alcohol Affected My Life with Peter Ybarra; Native American Culture and Hip Hop with Christian Parrish; Rez Jeopardy presented by Salena Branchaud and Charlene Defoe; Hand Drum Making with Darren Defoe and Larry Van Wert; Gangs with Jerome LeBeauz and Garfield Steele; Elements of Life with Chance Rush, Chief Swagg and Emcee One; Walking Together to a Good Way with Robert Johnston; Beautiful Young Women with Karen Barrett; Reflections with Happy Frejo; Suicide presented by Arnold Thomas; and P.O.W.E.R. Rez Style with Eddie Wadda.

The Guest Speaker for Day 2 is Adam Beach.

Evening events include: All Native American High School Basketball Tournament at the Red Lake High School and Middle School; a Hip-Hop Concert at the Red Lake Humanities with Chance Rush, Chief Swagg, Emcee One and Christian Parrish; Hypnotist Robert Johnston; Basketball All-Star Tournament; Awards Banquet; and a Skate Compitition.


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