October was a busy month for CNAY as we traveled to national conferences and facilitated youth roundtables in Oregon and California. As part of our engagement and advocacy model, CNAY hosts youth roundtables across Indian Country to better understand Native youth priorities and discuss both challenges and successes that they face in their communities, schools and at home. Typically, the roundtables take place at schools or at community centers and consist of 10-15 youth from across the tribe or region. In these dialogues, which usually last for an hour, youth are given the opportunity to voice their concerns, share about their personal successes, and inform us about impactful programs, while CNAY shares back information about potentially useful resources. The youth priorities are then summarized anonymously in our annual Voices of Native Youth Report.
In early-October, CNAY visited Chemawa Indian School, a Bureau of Indian Education boarding school in Salem, OR. While at Chemawa, staff met with over 40 youth representing tribes across Indian Country. During discussions, youth highlighted access to higher education, mental health resources, positive school and community activities and career development opportunities as priorities for them and their peers. CNAY shared about Gen-I, our Champions for Change program and scholarships currently available to Native youth.
Following the meetings at Chemawa, CNAY staff attended the National Indian Education Association Annual Conference in Portland, OR where we attended sessions and had a booth in the Marketplace. The conference was a great opportunity to learn about innovative education-focused solutions, as well as some of the challenges that youth and tribes face with regard to education. The Marketplace provided CNAY staff with the opportunity to interact with hundreds of educators, tribal leaders, community members and most importantly, youth.
Following the NIEA conference, CNAY traveled to San Diego, CA to attend the National Congress of American Indians’ Annual Conference. CNAY participated in the “National and Regional Organizations Joint Meeting: Learning from One Another to Empower Tribal Nations” to share updates about our work and Gen-I. Staff also attended sessions on oral health, youth opportunities and mental health, while also hosting a booth in the Marketplace to share information and engage with conference attendees.
While in San Diego, CNAY also facilitated a youth roundtable with over 40 youth from across Indian Country to discuss their priorities for health and well-being. During the discussion, youth highlighted several health-related priorities, including access to healthcare – including dental and mental health services, access to healthy foods, and active lifestyles. They also were given the chance to brainstorm innovative ways to improve health throughout Indian Country, where they talked about phone apps, interactive websites and video PSAs to promote healthy lifestyles.