On July 28August 2, 2012, more than 200 youth and adult leaders from 53 tribal communities across the country convened at the federally sponsored 2012 National Intertribal Youth Summit.
Youth participated in talking circles and attended seminars and lectures focused on civic engagement, federal policies affecting Indian country, and the U.S. Congress. They also honed their leadership skills in sessions on protecting tribal culture, suicide and bullying prevention, conflict resolution, and healthy lifestyles. On the final day of the summit, they visited Capitol Hill and the White House.
Lorna Her Many Horses of the Sicangu Lakota tribe sings "The Star Spangled Banner" in the Lakota language. She worked with elders and language teachers to translate the song and produced CDs in her own community that have been given out to hundreds of American Indian veterans and soldiers, and more than 50 schools and youth organizations.
(From l. to r.) Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary, and OJJDP Acting Administrator Melodee Hanes heard directly from tribal youth about their concerns in a range of areas, including environmental pollution, gangs, and substance abuse in Indian country.
Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West sharing information with a participant in the National Intertribal Youth Summit. "Because the summit is in Washington D.C. this year, we hope you will go home with a sense of the importance the decisions that are made here have on you and your tribal nation," West said in his address to tribal youth on July 30.
A young man savors the moment of catching the ball during the National Intertribal Youth Summit's lacrosse exhibition and clinic. The game of lacrosse has its origins in a tribal game (called "stick ball" in some tribal communities), and is an excellent example of how youth leaders can promote health and community in the context of tribal culture and tradition.
Wyatt Goggle (right), of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe in Wyoming, with a friend at the youth summit's lacrosse clinic. As interim co-chair of the Wind-River Unity Council, Wyatt helps organize workshops on youth issues such as bullying and suicide prevention. He is also working with the Juvenile Coordinator of his tribe to enlist peer mentors for youth in need of support. "The world is opening up. All these opportunities keep coming, knocking at the door," he said. Wyatt plans to attend college and possibly pursue a career in teaching.
Megan Gregory, of the Tlingit tribe in Southeast Alaska, is committed to addressing the high rate of youth suicide in Alaska. In collaboration with the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium's "1 is 2 Many" suicide prevention task force, Megan developed a Youth Ambassadors program, which provides an opportunity for high school leaders representing communities from across the region to attend task force meetings, work with a mentor, and become a strong positive advocate for suicide prevention in their communities.
The Buffalo Nickel Creative team speaks to the summit about the public service announcement (PSA) video that youth were to create at this year's summit. The PSA's ideas, concepts, and script were developed by youth participating in the summit session, "Digital Storytelling."
Youth watch the public service announcement that youth created at last year's summit in Santa Fe, NM. The PSA is entitled "That's My People."
In a session entitled "Civic Engagement," youth discussed voting as an important way to effect change, make their voices heard, and influence what happens in their communities. They were also encouraged to become engaged in other ways, including attending tribal forums, knocking on doors in support of candidates, and encouraging their parents and grandparents to vote.
Youth form groups during a "Listening to Youth Voices" session to discuss the challenges in their communities and brainstorm about approaches to addressing these challenges.
Shown above are suggestions from one group in the "Listening to Youth Voices" session about how tribal youth can be champions of change in their communities.
Youth share some of the problemsand also the solutionsin their communities. Solutions included resisting peer pressure to join gangs and abuse drugs, engaging in sports, setting goals, and participating in community service activities.