Native Sun News: Student honored for suicide prevention work

The following story was written and reported by Karin Eagle, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

William Hawk holding the May Peace Prevail on Earth Award he received.

May Peace Prevail on Earth award recipient with strong ties to South Dakota
By Karin Eagle
Native Sun News Staff Writer

CHICAGO—A member of the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribe has been honored with an award that acknowledges his commitment to preventing suicide among Native American communities and his efforts at cultural preservation. William Hawk has been named the winner of the Peace Prevail on Earth award.

At Northeastern Illinois University, Hawk was chosen to receive his award by one of the university’s professors, Dr. Dan Creely Jr. The professor was inspired by Hawk after he heard him speak at a Peace Prevail on Earth prayer event held on campus. The prayer gathering involved people from many different cultures and religious beliefs. During the circle of prayers, Hawk was able to address the gathering and speak on the work he is doing, as well as offer his prayers.

According to the World Peace website, May Peace Prevail On Earth, the official message of the organization was authored in 1955 by the late Masahisa Goi of Japan. In a moment of great inspiration and deep prayer Mr. Goi awakened to the need to spread this message and prayer to the hearts of the global community for the attainment of inner and outer peace.

With the passing of Mr. Goi in 1983 his adopted daughter, Masami Saionji became Chairperson of the peace movement. Through the directives of Mrs. Saionji the movement began to expand and gain international recognition.

The World Peace Prayer and Flag Ceremony was created by Mrs. Saionji in 1983 as a global celebration of the oneness of humanity. The ceremony is in its twenty-fifth year.

The twenty-seven year old Hawk is the founder and director of the Native American Suicide Prevention Organization, a non-governmental organization that aims to inspire the young tribal members in South Dakota to find hope for the future and to improve the well-being of the tribes.

Currently, the organization promotes the education of Native youth, parents, schools and tribes across the state of South Dakota about suicide. The group stresses the importance of recognizing the warning signs of someone at risk of attempting suicide as well as how to implement strategies for intervening with those at risk.

The Native Americans Suicide Prevention Organization was founded in 2010 in response to the absence of collaboration between organizations. NASPO hopes that better communication between likeminded groups could help pool resources and strengthen the ability of them to effect positive change in curbing the high rates of suicide across Indian country.

“Our goal is to improve the health and well-being of Native people through the prevention of suicide in a culturally based manner,” says Hawk.

The May Peace Prevail on Earth award is not an unknown concept for Hawk, who has friends and colleagues who have been honored with the award in the past including author Lynny Prince.

As part of the award, Hawk has been invited to attend the next TEAM conference, at no cost, to learn alongside other individuals dedicated to improving their communities.

Hawk hopes that his work will expand to tribes in Canada, along the more Northern states and into Alaska. Hawk hopes to visit other communities across the region to share his message about preventing of suicide.

“We also want to start focusing on the different types of abuse; sexual, mental, emotional as well as physical,” explains Hawk. “We also want to talk about bullying.”

“Anyone who is interested in joining our group and would like to attend the training through TEAM is invited,” said Hawk. “They just need to contact me through email. The training is at the university, and all they would have to cover is their own travel expenses.”

NASPO recently visited the Black Mesa community in Arizona. The visit further inspired Hawk to continue his work across Indian Country. For more information on NASPO send inquiries to or directly to Hawk at

Information on the TEAM chapter at the Northeastern Illinois University can be sought by emailing

For more information on the May Peace Prevail on Earth movement, visit

If you or anyone you know is thinking of suicide, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Someone is always there 24/7 to talk to you.

(Contact Karin Eagle at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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