In mid-March, CNAY traveled to Washington State to meet with Native youth from several tribes and urban areas to better understand challenges and successes in Indian Country. These meetings are designed to introduce CNAY’s efforts and programs, including Champions for Change and the Gen-I National Native Youth Network, to Native youth and other community members, engage in dialogue about youth priorities and share important Native youth-focused resources. CNAY has held 146 meetings since 2011 to directly engage Native youth across Indian Country, including several in urban areas like Seattle.
During this five-day trip, CNAY first met with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community’s youth council to discuss youth priorities and Swinomish’s recent introduction of dental therapists to their dental services. Staff then traveled to the Skokomish Indian Reservation to meet with youth in an after-school tutoring program, where we discussed college and career-readiness while eating a meal provided by the tribe.
The following day, staff met with middle- and high-school students at Chief Leschi School, a BIE school on the Puyallup Indian Reservation, to discuss youth priorities, which included access to cultural programs and post-secondary opportunities. Later that day, CNAY sat down with youth at an after-school program on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation where we learned from youth about successful cultural and sports programs, while sharing about our Champions for Change leadership development program.
On the last day of the trip, CNAY met with area program staff and Native youth from the public high schools in Seattle. Youth participants talked about the need for better Native education in public schools, and shared their experiences with bullying and stereotyping at school. The youth highlighted the positive impact of the Title VII program, which gave them opportunities to interact with other Native students as a means of peer support.
Following these meetings, CNAY stays connected to the youth and community leaders we meet by continuing to share resources and opportunities specific to Native youth.