The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute welcomed a group of approximately 100 Native American youth to Washington, DC September 26-27 for the eighth annual White House Tribal Nations Conference and the second White House Tribal Youth Gathering. These young leaders from across the country served as Youth Delegates at the Tribal Nations Conference and joined elected leaders of the 567 federally recognized tribes for nation-to-nation dialogues with members of the President’s Cabinet on critical issues affecting Native American tribes.
On Tuesday, the youth took part in the second-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering, where they interacted with Cabinet officials like U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, U.S. Department of Education Secretary John King, and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Hamilton Seymour, a 17 year-old Gen-I Youth Ambassador and 2015 CNAY Champion for Change from the Nooksack Indian Tribe, attended the conference and Tribal Youth Gathering to share his priorities for Native youth and Indian Country. “There are many challenges and difficulties facing youth across Indian Country,” says Hamilton. “And these events provide an important opportunity for the Administration to hear about those, in addition to the incredible strengths and resiliency that we possess as Native people.”
The Youth Delegates are part of Generation Indigenous (Gen-I), a broad initiative which takes a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach to help improve the lives and opportunities for Native youth across sectors. CNAY leads the National Native Youth Network, a component of Gen-I that provides a sustainable platform to engage Native youth and provide them with educational, leadership, and funding opportunities. The Youth Delegates are all engaged as Gen-I Ambassadors and are leading positive change through community service projects that address issues from suicide to education to climate change, and much more.
“We are very excited and pleased that the Administration continues to extend these opportunities to Native youth,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, founder of CNAY. “They all have powerful, inspiring stories to share and we will continue to uplift them as part of our work at CNAY.”