When President Obama announced last Friday that several individuals would be appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE), few realized that at just 17 years old, Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown was about to become the youngest White House Indian Education advisor in history. He might be the youngest person ever appointed to a White House advisory position directly by the President.
As ICTMN has previously reported, Brown (Wilton-Miwok) has been a serious trailblazer since being named one of five Champions for Change by the Center for Native American Youth for his after school study group NERDS in 2013.
He has already met President Obama seven times, has hugged Michelle Obama, appeared on an MTV special, and has hosted three annual NERDS Native Youth conferences.
In an interview with ICTMN Brown talked about his very busy and productive life.
How did all of this happen?
The whole process took two years. My brother nominated me and I had to send in a huge application. A couple of months later, White House representatives called me to review the application. They told me I made the short list. President Obama looked through the list.
On Friday, I received a call from the president’s office of the White House officially appointing me to the position.
I am now part of the council that has been in place for some time. I am the first youth appointed. I love that this advisory council exists, however, It’s a little disappointing that I am the first youth, because being that this is Indian education, the focus should be on youth. We need to have the youth voice represented, we need to have them speaking at the table.
What will you be doing?
The advisory council reports on the issues affecting our youth and our education system in Indian country. We will be looking at the real issues, and we will come up with solutions for these issues. One of the main parts of our job is to give a formal report to Congress and to Education Secretary John King and to President Obama, to let them know what’s going on in Indian country in regards to our education systems.
Do you think people are listening to Native youth?
In the past year there has been a huge expansion of youth voices across Indian country with such initiatives as Generation Indigenous and the Center for Native American Youth, Unity and the and the NCAI Native Youth commission. I think this can be attributed to President Obama and Michelle Obama, who care so much for Native youth.
What do you hope to accomplish?
Oh, my gosh. I haven’t even been on the job more than a couple of days! There is a lot going on in Indian Country that needs to be fixed. I think that with the other great people on the board we will be able to come up with some necessary solutions to these problems. We are not going to be able to fix all of them, but we’re going to do our best to cover as many as we possibly can.
How can young people get in touch with you?
If any young person wants to email me about problems in their community, I set up an email account just for this and my position at NCAIE. It is Dahkota.NACIE17@gmail.com