On November 15th, the Center for Native American Youth at The Aspen Institute (CNAY) released its second annual State of Native Youth report and also celebrated Native American Heritage Month with apanel event in Washington, DC.
Native youth panelists included Kayleigh Warren, Co-Chairwoman of the Santa Clara Pueblo Youth Tribal Council; Anthony Tamez, Co-President of Chi-Nations Youth Council; and Samuel Schimmel, 2017 CNAY Champion for Change.
“As a Native youth you should be strong in your values and doing what you should in support of your people,” said Native youth panelist Kayleigh Warren. Warren said she was also empowered by the strength of her culture in the face of any struggle. “My love for my people is stronger than anyone’s hate.”
Anthony Tamez stated he was proud to be Native and Black, yet sometimes faced pre-conceived stereotypes. “I am Native and Black, so that is who I am. But the idea of what Natives look like can be connected to things like the mascot issue. People tell me I don’t look like how people see Indians.”
Samuel Schimmel shared that he also battled with stereotypes, referencing a time when he told his teacher that not all Indians lived in tipi’s and all Eskimos did not live in igloo’s. The statement got him suspended from school.
Chrissie Castro, Vice Chairwoman of the Los Angeles City-County Native American Indian Commission also joined the youth panel discussion alongside CNAY Founder Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.) and CNAY Executive Director Erik Stegman.
“Our State of Native Youth report combines survey data, research, program highlights, and the stories of Native youth to give us a clear picture of the resources our young people need,” said Stegman in a release. “We strive to make this report a platform and road-map for building opportunity for Native youth across the country.”
This year, survey participants identified culture and language, education, and employment as their top three priorities. In addition to sharing these findings, the report examines data indicators of Native youth success, as well as the policies that impact their lives.
In closing Dorgan said the Native youth gave him a great sense of hope and that the continued purpose of the CNAY was ‘to continue to find the good news to give us all great hopes for the future.”
Powerful stuff from the #NativeYouth panel at 2017 State of Native Youth Report Release Event.
Thanks to @Center4Native and @genindigenous for continuing to lift these voices that inspire us all!
Check out the report here: https://t.co/fjT5w3zXzq pic.twitter.com/9J71DRHVdr
— Youth & Engagement (@AspenInstYouth) November 15, 2017
The Center for Native American Youth believes Native American youth should lead full and healthy lives, have equal access to opportunity, and draw strength from their culture and one another. CNAY focuses on the resilience of Native youth and supports them through youth recognition, inspiration, and leadership; research, advocacy, and policy change; serving as a national resource exchange; and by developing strengths-based Native youth media opportunities. Learn more at www.cnay.org.