Dahkota Brown (Wilton Miwok) was recognized as a Champion for Change in 2013 for founding Native Education Raising Dedicated Students (NERDS), a nonprofit organization focused on Native student retention and support. Since then, NERDS has grown to serve hundreds of Native students with a 100% success rate, meaning that no NERDS student has dropped out of school and all students who enter NERDS remain in the program until graduation.
Aside from inspiring his peers and classmates to get good grades and graduate on time, Dahkota also became vocally involved in the fight against racist mascots. Thanks in part to his passion and advocacy around this issue, California Governor Jerry Brown passed a law prohibiting public schools from using the term “Redskins” as a team name or mascot.
Just this week, on April 25, Dahkota and his family traveled from California to Washington, DC for Dahkota’s confirmation, where he was sworn in as a member of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. Dahkota is just seventeen years old, making him the youngest person to ever hold this position. “I’m taking stories and advice from Native youth across the country and making sure they have a seat at the table too,” said Dahkota. He says that he looks forward to using this role as a platform for youth voices, and encouraged young people to reach out to him to share their priorities related to education.