Topic: Indigenous

Lakota Native American hopes to work with Māori youth

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty
William "Hawk" Birdshead of the Lakota

William "Hawk" Birdshead, founder of the "Native American Suicide Prevention Organisation" hopes to work with youth in Māori communities to help prevent suicide.  

He will be attending the World Indigenous Suicide Prevention Conference in Rotorua hosted by Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Pikiao.

Close to 500 people attended William “Hawk” Birdshead's presentation  and learned about all the work he has done in his hometown of Oglala Lakota.

“The solution for our people was giving our youth the power to do what they pleased in the community as far as giving them a voice in our meetings in our leader's meetings,” says Mr. Birdshead.

Last week the government set aside $2.1 million to help towards suicide prevention for rangatahi Māori.  

Birdshead says in his experience sometimes youth just need to be heard, “Our youth have a voice now in the U.S and we gifted that to them and now they are gifting life back to themselves we gave them that hope and they are taking that hope and giving that on.”

Māori health advocate, Sir Mason Durie agrees with the concept and he also welcomes the funding for suicide prevention programmes.

“The really important thing is how that is used and it's going to be used so that communities and families have quite a large input into solution it's not something that government or authorities or DHB's can manage by themselves there has got to be a community initiative”, says Sir Durie.

Both Sir Durie and Mr. Birdshead believe that suicide can be beaten.  If it's worked in his Lakota communities it can work here in New Zealand.

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