by Celine Ramos
Lydia Lerma of the Lydia Lerma Foundation, along with Brandon Barrios, Dan Austin, and Steve Wiatrowski, organized a concert on July 9th at The Lyric in Fort Collins, Colorado in dedication to The Hurting Song. The Hurting Song is an organization aimed at bringing awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW). The concert featured the band Pete Sands & The Drifters along with Fort Collins’ Xak Wolfe and raised 7,000$ for MMIW after selling 150 tickets.
The Lydia Lerma Foundation(LLF), established in May of 2018, is dedicated to child advocacy and to helping victims of sexual abuse and their families to navigate the complex legal processes to receive justice. Some of the volunteers for LLF also help track down fugitives wanted for sexual assault against children. This is a service that began before LLF was created when Lerma used social media to track down her son’s abuser who had escaped law enforcement by fleeing the country. With a firm sense of justice, Lerma’s foundation helps MMIW by offering investigative volunteers to work with agencies to assist in MMIW cases. Such services are integral because law enforcement has been a systemic complicated obstacle to helping MMIW victims and their families receive their own proper justice. It’s integral to have people who really care about the lives of Indigenous women as a part of the engine in tackling the myria of intertwined issues.
Pete Sands, who is also known as a director for visual media for a documentary on MMIW for a documentary on MMIW awareness titled The Hurting Song, was born and raised on a Navajo reservation in southern Utah. He began making music at a very young age inspired by the ancestral songs of his Navajo culture as well as the classic country sounds of artists like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. These inspirations converged and evolved into the musical style of his band Pete Sands & The Drifters, which is described as “pure desert born music coming straight from the heart of the Navajo-Indian Reservation”, according to North Forty News.
Pete Sands & The Drifters were joined by Fort Collins musician Xak Wolfe for this very special event. Wolfe’s musical identity is firmly entrenched in his Colorado upbringing and inspired by living in “the shadow of the majestic Rocky Mountains”. Wolfe was raised hearing his grandfather playing and singing country classics like Hank Williams Sr. and like Pete Sands, Johnny Cash as well. His style became a genre that he now refers to as ‘outlaw country’ which is inspired by genres like alternative country, southern rock, and blues. Wolfe likens his fanbase to family rather than considering them as just his fans.
Demonstrated through this joining of forces between musical artists and volunteers whom are dedicated to raising awareness, and providing tangible work for the MMIW movement, is the power of empathic art to pave the way for real-world change. The driving force behind the Pete Sands & the Drifters-Xak Wolfe concert and the effort put into both The Hurting Song, and the LLF, is love for fellow human beings. These artists, creators, and volunteers all devote their time, and efforts despite not getting any monetary payoff purely because they care about doing what they can to help. If this energy can be magnified to its necessary breadth, the issue of MMIW may be able to gain more and more traction.
Local Team Raises Money for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Local Musician Joins Pete Sands in Support of Indigenous Community
Xak Wolfe Band
Pete Sands & The Drifters
Lydia Lerma Foundation
Prayers(by Pete Sands & The Drifters)