Update on Center from Senator Dorgan

October 11, 2012

Dear Tribal Leaders, Indian advocates and Center partners,

I am writing to update you on the work and accomplishments of the Center for Native American Youth. We are fortunate to have connected with many of you in our efforts and look forward to much more partnership and collaboration with tribes, Indian youth, tribal organizations and agencies to help create more resources to address important issues facing young people in Indian Country.

The Center for Native American Youth was featured in a story about suicide prevention published by Indian Country Today Media NetworkNBC and 100reporters.com earlier this week. We were highlighted throughout the article as a hub for efforts related to preventing suicide and addressing challenges facing young people in Indian Country. I am proud of what we have built and grateful for current and future opportunities to really reach out to young people and prevent the tragedies of suicide.

As you will read, the article follows the Center’s team as we reach out to tribal communities and Native youth to understand the issues, track best practices, provide resource connections and offer support. I and the Center’s team are absolutely committed to connecting with tribal leaders, authorities, and Indian children.

The Indian Country Today/NBC article also discusses the Center’s efforts to promote collaboration and coordination amongst key federal and local stakeholders impacting the lives of Native American youth. The Center for Native American Youth has held 7 roundtables bringing together federal agencies, tribal organizations and Native youth to build a resource and policy platform and advance an agenda for improving the lives of Native youth. Our most recent policy roundtable of October 5, 2012 centered around generating approaches and concrete next steps to highlight Native youth issues and promote policy priorities and solutions we hear from Native youth and tribal leaders.

Lastly, I want to tell you about an exciting new program I am launching in November, called Champions for Change. The attached article talks about the perspective of Native American suicide prevention champions from Alaska, New Mexico and South Dakota. I believe there are really inspirational kids out there and I believe they should be highlighted in an effort to promote hope!

November 19 we will announce the Champions for Change program, a spin-off of a White House initiative, at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC. I hope you will join us! The program will recognize and encourage inspirational Native American youth (ages 14 to 24) making positive change in their tribal or urban Indian communities. Five youth finalists will be selected and recognized at a 2013 spring event in Washington, DC. The CFC program will invite Native American youth to submit a story in written or video form about how they are making a positive impact in their community. Champions can include individuals who initiate programs, events, or other efforts to improve the lives of fellow Native youth and Indian Country.

Again, thank you for your continued support and encouragement as we built this new program. I believe that the First Americans have been ignored for too long and we must do what we can to create more opportunities, raise awareness and develop solutions to the challenges facing many Native American youth.

I urge you to remain engaged with the Center, and learn more about our work by visiting our website (www.cnay.org). Also, feel free to contact the Center’s director, Erin Bailey, if you have questions or comments about the Center and its work. She can be reached at 202-736-2521, or erin.bailey@aspeninst.org. Thank you again for your support!



Byron L. Dorgan
US Senator (ret.)