Washington, D.C. – November 16, 2018 – The National Indian Gaming Association joined the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at their third annual State of Native Youth Report and celebrated Native American Heritage Month with a panel event in Washington, D.C. on Friday, November 16, where they officially unveiled their annual report to Indian country.
The report and event focused on the policy issues facing Native youth and the programs making a positive difference in their communities. The theme of this year’s State of Native Youth Report is Generation Indigenous (Gen-I)—a national network connecting Native youth leaders and their movements. The report also features a foreword by Sally Jewell, former Secretary of Interior and CNAY Advisory Board member, and Kendrick Eagle, Gen-I Ambassador, and CNAY Youth Advisory Board Co-Chair.
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., who also serves as a board member of CNAY expressed the importance of supporting the annual CNAY event. “We are here to support today’s young Native American leaders as they take center stage in addressing the critical issues facing our youth in Indian Country. They are our voices, who lead today for the assurance of a better tomorrow for generations to come.”
He went on to share the importance of the role of today’s Youth Leaders and how they influence those around them, not just today, but for the future. He told the youth about his own family and how his children had the advantage of having two hard-working parents in their home, but it didn’t mean that they didn’t have their struggles and challenges as well. And in those times, they turned to their friends, their buddies, fellow students, and relatives. That is why Youth Leadership is so important. Our youth are helping each other out, and they need to have good role models and examples to follow.
Featured Native youth panelists included Isabel Coronado-Jones, 2018 Champion for Change; Trenton Casillas-Bakeberg, Gen-I Youth Ambassador and Fresh Tracks Trainer; Darby Raymond-Overstreet, Grand Prize Winner of the Gen-I Creative Native Contest. Opening remarks were given by Dan Porterfield, President, and CEO of The Aspen Institute and Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.), Founder of CNAY and Chair of its Board of Advisors.
The discussion was co-moderated by CNAY Executive Director Erik Stegman and Associate Director, Nikki Pitre. The panel highlighted the challenges that Native youth face, while also showcasing their resiliency in leading efforts and initiatives that capitalize on cultural and community strengths.
“Native American youth are leading inspiring and impactful initiatives across the country to tackle some of the biggest issues in their communities,” said CNAY Executive Director, Erik Stegman. “We are proud to share everything we learn from youth leaders in our network through this report every year.” Chairman Stevens thanked Mr. Stegman and Ms. Pitre for the good things they are doing to support and empower Native Youth.
“I founded CNAY to shine all the spotlights on the great work that Native American youth are doing in their communities,” said CNAY founder Sen. Byron Dorgan (ret.). “The young leaders we highlight in this report give me great hope for a strong future for Indian Country.”
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., thanks retired South Dakota Senator Dorgan for his leadership role with Native Youth. He said, “He has done so many great things for Indian Country in his years as a Senator, especially in his role on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and now he continues to play a significant role in Indian Countries future by preparing our youth for their leadership roles. We will always be grateful for him.”
Each year, the State of Native Youth Report highlights priorities shared by Native youth during community roundtable meetings, shares information about impactful local youth programs, and examines data indicators of Native youth success and the policies that impact their lives.
NIGA would like to thank CNAY for the invitation to attend this event and also would like to honor and congratulate all award recipients and panelists for their achievements and dedication to their communities.