On Thursday, November 5, President Obama hosted the seventh White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC. The Tribal Nations Conference provides an opportunity for elected leaders from the 567 federally recognized tribes to engage directly with high-level federal government officials and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs on critical issues affecting Indian Country.
In alignment with the Obama Administration’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative, this year’s Tribal Nations Conference placed special emphasis on increasing access to opportunity for youth in Indian Country. The Center for Native American Youth worked alongside the White House to identify and invite a group of over twenty Gen-I Youth Ambassadors to serve as Youth Delegates at the conference. These Youth Delegates attended plenary sessions and participated in breakout discussions alongside tribal leaders and Administrative officials.
During the conference, Champion for Change Rory Taylor (Pawnee) delivered an address that shared his journey as a Native student and highlighted the need for more support and resources for indigenous youth seeking higher education opportunities. Click here to access a recording of the address.
Additionally, President Barack Obama joined four Native youth — Tatiana Ticknor (Yup’ik, Tlingit, Dena’ina), Brayden White (St. Regis Mohawk), Blossom Johnson (Navajo Nation), and Philip Douglas (Seminole Nation of Oklahoma) — for a panel discussion on issues directly affecting their families, peers and communities. Some of the priorities elevated by the conversation included access to higher education for Native students, poverty and resource gaps in Indian Country, health priorities including diabetes and youth suicide prevention, and racism within schools. The conversation was moderated by Native youth athlete and activist Jude Schimmel (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation). Click here to watch a video recording of the panel.