(Arapahoe, WY) – Arapahoe Schools students had a special guest on Nov. 13, Christian Wassana. He is an actor and motivational speaker and is known for his roles in Yellowstone and Reservation Dogs and his motto, “I am, I can, I will.”
He spoke to the students about historical trauma on Indigenous people and how that impacts them today.
“Unfortunately, because of how they wanted to get rid of our people and the things that they’ve done, it has led to generational and historical trauma within our community,” he said. “Which means statistically, we lead the way in alcoholism, underage drinking, (and) suicide. Terrible, terrible things that we are not. That is not who we are. That is not who our people are.”
He went on to share how he committed himself to breaking the cycle and living an alcohol and drug-free life. He encouraged the students to break the cycle as well.
“Our next generation is coming in to change that cycle, and I believe in you guys. I believe in every single one of you. Like I said, it’s not easy. Not easy at all. When you’ve got everybody around you doing it, it’s hard. It’s so hard. But again, the strength and the resiliency that is in you guys is there.”
Wassana explained his journey through college and playing basketball and how rough it was for him, but how he found his path.
“I always say follow your heart. … What does that mean? Well, inside of us, every single one of you, there is a passion and there is a purpose. And there is a shining bright light that is waiting to shine. Inside every single one of you, whether you believe it or not. It’s just your job to bring it out.”
He shared how scared he was to leave everyone when he was called up to Montana to be in Yellowstone after years of being a background actor. This was for seven months, and he explained to the students that he didn’t want to leave his family, his dog or his people for such a long time.
“Finally, somebody talked to me. They said, ‘Chris, you never know what this opportunity will lead to. You never know what this opportunity will lead to. Go.'”
He discussed the importance of mental health and talking to someone, whether it’s an aunt, uncle, teacher, counselor or anyone. Noting that was the best thing he ever did in his life.
“Nothing is more important than your mental health.”
He continued the speech by explaining how important it is to keep their culture alive by singing their songs and speaking their language.
He rounded out the assembly by having the students join him in song.