National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission Hosts Annual Youth Luncheon

Destini Reynaud, Kaylee Schuyler and Sam Schimmel honored with the NCAI Youth Leadership Award

Albuquerque, NM - October 22, 2019 – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Youth Commission hosted their annual NCAI Youth Luncheon today as part of the 76th Annual NCAI Convention and Marketplace at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Before announcing the 2019 NCAI Youth Leadership recipients, National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., paid special recognition of leadership to Steven Paul Judd, from the Kiowa-Choctaw tribes. Judd is a renowned filmmaker, director, screenwriter, writer of fiction, a visualist and successful entrepreneur. His filmography has earned him many honors and awards, and the Native American population has embraced his work with an outpour of support and encouragement to continue creating. Chairman Stevens said, “Steven Paul is a great role model and is a true example of the possibility of living a dream, doing what he does, and becoming a success.”

Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., then presented the NCAI Youth Leadership Awards to Destini Reynaud from the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Kaylee Schuyler of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Sam Schimmel a citizen of the St. Lawrence Island Siberian Yupik & Kenaitze Indians of Alaska.

Destini Reynaud 16, currently in the Youth Tribal Council for the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, shared that her goal is to become an Attorney. She said, “This is my first year in the youth council, and it is my passion.” Reynaud added, “I would love to be a tribal lawyer and speak for the youth. There is plenty of youth that go through hardships with their family, and I feel the need to become an advocate for our tribal youth.”

Kaylee Schuyler, who is 17 years old, is currently a senior attending Oneida Nation High School. She shared, “My passion is Language revitalization. The Oneida Nation has few speakers in my tribe, and my goal is to keep on our cultural and traditional values for the next seven generations.” Kaylee shared that she is already on a path to help make a change in her community. She is an intern for the Oneida Immersion Program, where they teach 3 to 4-year-old students the Oneida language.

Sam Schimmel shared in his written essay, “Working locally, regionally, and nationally, with and for Alaska Native and Native American youth is important to me.” He shared his passion for advocacy on behalf of Climate Change. He served on Former Governor of Alaska Bill Walker’s Climate Action Leadership Team and led the Alaska youth climate conference.

Additionally, Chairman Stevens also presented the National Indian Gaming Association Leadership award to Amari McCoy from the Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne Moreno from the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians an Adrianna Metoxen from the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin.

“The role in leadership is and ongoing responsibility and these three along with the rest of the youth commission will serve as ambassadors, promoting unity, economic development and youth empowerment.” Chairman Stevens said.

Several years ago, the NCAI Youth Commission established this honoring with respect to Chairman Steven’s ongoing role empowering young leaders. Stevens is a long-time youth advocate and was instrumental in the creation of the NCAI Youth Commission when he formerly served as a tribal council member for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and the first Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians.

Stevens said, “When we envisioned creating Youth Commission at NCAI, we focused on the importance of energizing our young Native leaders to be visible, not pushed aside. We want to empower these young people to lead, not as future leaders – but as today’s leaders.” He added, “We have been doing this for more than 20 years, and many have gone on to be prominent leaders in their own right and their communities.”

Stevens also presented a Chairman’s leadership award to Jeri Bruno, the NCAI Youth Commission advisor for her years of advocacy with the Native American youth.

The NCAI Youth Commission was established to unite and to develop the youth by sharing their concerns and interests and by enhancing the spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional well-being of tribal youth for a better Native America. It is designed specifically for college and high school students ages 16-23 with interest in political science, tribal government and Native American legislative and governmental affairs.