Recruitment meeting held for youth council
SHIPROCK – The Navajo Nation Youth Council wants to develop a voice for the issues, challenges and concerns young Navajos face in their communities.
That was the message youth council members and tribal officials shared during a recruitment meeting Tuesday at the Shiprock Youth Complex.
The youth council, which has been gaining momentum this year, is seeking individuals between the ages of 12 through 22 to join and develop a unified voice for addressing issues that impact young people.
Navajo Preparatory School senior Adreyan Pete, who is a cofounder and youth council representative, shared his first-hand experience of how young people can make a difference by relating a story about how students are working together to improve the school. One way they made a difference was by developing programs to generate interest in Navajo culture and language.
“The youth are not what everybody thinks they are … the youth are wanting to know more things,” Pete said.
He added there are many young people across the Navajo Nation who are interested in learning and helping their communities.
Navajo Prep senior Triston Black provided a brief recap about the youth council, which has its origins in the 1960s with interest fluctuating over the years.
Among the recent youth council activities was a summit in August in St. Michaels, Ariz. Black said those types of meetings help spread the word about the youth council, as well as generate ideas about topics to focus on and the examination of solutions.
In speaking with young people from across the Navajo Nation, he said, they are concerned about social issues like alcohol, drugs and suicide, but they also want to develop their voice in tribal government.
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty said the executive and legislative branches have agreed that young people are one of the top priorities for the tribe. The challenge is to develop communication between those young people and tribal leaders, followed by developing an avenue through which young people can talk to the leaders.
“I can give you a long list of what I think are your issues, but I want to know from you. …What are the things you want the leadership to address, and how do you want to be part of that conversation,” Crotty said.
She also applauded those in attendance because they are shattering the notion that young people do not care about social issues.
“This is the time to empower, this is the time to hear your voice and this is the time to let the leadership know that you do care about issues, that you are thinking about your communities,” Crotty said.
Navajo Nation Vice President Jonathan Nez emphasized the focus elected leaders have on young people, which is one of the four pillars the executive branch administration has established. In order for the council to be successful, the vice president said, young people need to be the ones to guide it.
“We want you to be the ones to mold this Navajo Nation wide youth council,” Nez said.
Sharon Yazzie, program project specialist for the Office of Diné Y.O.U.T.H. in Shiprock, helped coordinate the meeting.
“From our standpoint we’re questioning them in how we can be of help as a program since we provide youth services,” Yazzie said, adding there is discussion about establishing the youth council within the Navajo Nation Code.
The office can assist the youth council in securing funding resources, helping share information about the council or assist in developing leadership skills, she said.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.