|One Dupont Circle • Suite 700
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|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erin Bailey, Executive Director
Center for Native American Youth
The Aspen Institute
In collaboration with the Congressional Native American Caucus, CNAY and Casey Family Programs co-hosted a briefing entitled “Challenges to a Better Future: Priorities and Perspectives from Native Youth” that highlighted Native American youth priorities and an evening reception welcomed and connected more than 300 Native youth with Members of Congress.
Washington, DC, July 9, 2015 –– The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY), a policy program at the Aspen Institute, hosted two events on July 8 on Capitol Hill to highlight Native American youth voices and connect young people from across Indian Country with their Members of Congress. The events were co-hosted by CNAY and Casey Family Programs, along with honorary co-hosts from the Congressional Native American Caucus, Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN). Many of the youth were in Washington, DC to attend the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering, an all-day event taking place today with over 1,000 Native youth, members of the President’s Cabinet, and other federal officials. The Gathering is a component of Generation Indigenous (Gen-I), which is a broad initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed.
During the briefing in the Rayburn House Office Building, a panel of youth shared their stories and asked Congressional staff and members to work with them to help support Native American youth. The discussion included priority issues from foster care, education, health care and suicide prevention to opportunities for investment in Indian Country, as well as how to improve access to programs and streamline the federal grants system.
Rory Taylor, 19, a panelist from the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, focused on the importance of education for creating opportunity. “In order to provide more opportunities to Native youth, every child deserves a quality, culturally focused education in a safe and nurturing environment so that they can reach their full potential,” said Taylor.
In addition to Rory Taylor, the panel featured: Vanessa Goodthunder, 21, Lower Sioux Indian Community; Jessica McCool, 18, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians; Janay Jumping Eagle, 16, Oglala Sioux Tribe; and Hamilton Seymour, 15, Nooksack Indian Tribe. Former US Senator Byron Dorgan, who created CNAY in 2011 and Daryle Conquering Bear Crow, 27, Oglala Sioux Tribe and alumni of the foster cares system, moderated the panel.
“It is important to connect with Native youth directly about issues they are facing in their communities,” said Dorgan. “Congress has a critical role in investing in the lives of Native youth through the trust responsibility of the federal government and the youth undoubtedly left an impact on Members of Congress and their staffs.”
Later in the evening of July 8, CNAY, Casey Family Programs and the Congressional Native American Caucus hosted a reception to connect Native youth directly with their elected representatives in Congress to engage and share their priorities. Over 300 youth attended the reception, which included remarks from Anita Fineday of Casey Family Programs, and Dorgan, as well as honorary co-hosts, Congresswoman McCollum and Congressman Cole. To highlight its support of CNAY’s National Native Youth Network as part of Gen-I, Sam McCracken, General Manager of Nike’s N7 Programs, also addressed Native youth during the reception.
“These opportunities are crucially important for Native youth because so often our voices are invisible or others speak on our behalf. Through events like these, we are not only influencing policy change in the present, we are helping to create future leaders for Indian Country,” said Rory Taylor.
Center for Native American Youth is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan in February 2011, CNAY is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. CNAY works to strengthen and create new connections as well as exchange resources and best practices that address the challenges facing Native youth, with a special emphasis on suicide prevention. Visit CNAY’s website for a comprehensive list of resources available to young Native Americans, tribes and the general public. For more information, visit www.cnay.org
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.