Supaman, aka Christian Parrish, is a triple threat — Crow fancy dancer, hip-hop artist and cultural ambassador.
His expertise at all three was abundantly clear Wednesday as he kept the entire Skyview High School student body a little late after school, and no one seemed to care.
Parrish has been visiting Billings schools over the past week talking about his Crow culture. Mostly he helps students feel good about themselves.
Parrish kept returning to the refrain Wednesday, “If you’re happy and you know it,” letting the audience fill in the rest, with “clap your hands.” He had students paying each other compliments and giving each other high fives and telling one another, “I’m glad you’re alive.”
“Now, how many of you smiled; how many of you laughed?” Parrish asked the students, who raised their hands in the air by the hundreds.
That was even before Parrish showed off his hip-hop skills and invited a dozen students to join him at center court in the Skyview gym to try out their beatboxing and hip-hop.
Parrish said his grandfather advised him that if he wanted to be a fancy dancer, Parrish had to have a happy heart.
“Those who are sick, lost a loved one, or are in wheelchairs and can’t dance — those are the ones you dance for, my grandfather said."
Parrish used his cellphone to read jokes he said he was working on in order to become a comedian. Some got a big groan from the students, other jokes took a minute to get and then the students roared. "I'll keep that one," Parrish said.
“If you live in Montana, you’re going to come into contact with Native Americans,” Parrish told the students.
Ten percent of the students in Billings public schools are Native American, according to Glenda McCarthy, instructional coach for Indian Education. That means the district has 1,600 Native students enrolled.
McCarthy helped coordinate the presentation with Skyview librarians Karen Mayhall and Liz Barnea. Programs given at Billings schools during November, which is Native American Month, help celebrate diversity, McCarthy said. Parrish will speak at several elementary schools this week and next.
“It helps to affirm their cultural identity,” McCarthy said. "It is equally important for the non-Native student to hear Christian’s story. He is a super star and has been traveling nationally and internationally. We’re lucky to get him now.”
Parrish has two YouTube videos that have each generated one million views. He was invited to dance in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2013 and won the Aboriginal People's Choice Award. One of his videos was selected as Artist of the Week on MTV.
"Do you know who Snoop Dogg is?" Parrish asked students. "He shared my video, man. He said 'Check this guy out, dope.'"
Parrish’s son Sam, who is a student at Senior High, helped run the sound equipment and throw T-shirts into the crowd. He even did a little rapping with his dad.
Mason Walker, a senior who is president of Skyview’s All Nations Club, praised Parrish’s talk, calling it inspiring and real.
“His message was to stand tall and look forward to your education. And be happy,” Walker said.