We, as Indigenous people, have endured a lot throughout history. From Colonization, to the introduction of alcohol, all the way to the Indian removal act forcing us from our homes. So there’s no doubt that due to that underlying trauma, our people suffer in many different ways. Many of our communities have a high poverty rate, as well as increased rates of suicide and substance abuse.
With all of those obstacles to overcome, a lot of Native Youth find themselves feeling not only helpless, but voiceless. But, in the wake of these dangers we are seeing more and more Native youth step up and use their voice to change Indian Country for the better.
Here’s how three Indigenous Organizations are helping Native American Youth do just that.
The Center for Native American Youth is a program that is stationed in Washington DC, but does work throughout the entire country. It’s goal is to shed a greater light on issues that face Native American youth, and help them find solutions, with a particular emphasis on suicide prevention.
One way they help achieve this, is through the Champion For Change program. Each year they choose 5 inspirational youth from a pool of applicants and not only highlight their stories but give them access to opportunities to share those stories across the Indian country. The chosen champions are flown to Washington DC to take part in recognition events with a chance to speak with their state representatives about issues they feel need to be discussed within their communities.
Find out more about the Champions for Change program here.
United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) is an Indigenous Organization that’s aim is to help indian country become stronger, more unified, and self relient. How do they do that? By empowering Native Youth and highlighting their efforts.
What started as a small group of Indigenous youth in 1976 has grown to a national organization. Every year their conference brings together thousands of youth from across the United states and Canada. It’s there, that youth attend sessions on professionalism, advocacy, and other subjects to help them learn how to continue to enact change in their communities.
You can learn more about the UNITY National Conference here.
We R Native is an organization by Native Youth, for Native Youth. They give indigenous youth a safe place to ask tough questions about sex, drugs, culture, and everything in between-empowering them to take charge of their own wellness and identity.
Each year they select a group of youth to become We R Native Ambassadors, giving them an outlet to reach more youth and be a positive influence in Indian Country.
Learn more about their Ambassador Program, here.
Native Americans are resilient, and so are their youth. Every day new people step up and choose to make their communities a better place. If you’d like to find out how you can too, these organizations are a great place to start!