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1.7 Million Native Youth
Native Brief: WASHINGTON - The future of the almost 1.7 million American Indian and Alaska Native youth will be the main focus of this year's American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month, celebrated every year during the month of November.
The announcement of this year's theme was made by a group of leading national American Indian and Alaska Native organizations in collaboration with a number of tribal and federal government offices. The group also announced the launch of AIANHeritageMonth.org which serves as a resource for youth, the general public, and organizers of Heritage month events.
"November is an important time for everyone to celebrate and reflect on the contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. The next generation of tribal leaders and citizens have held and will always hold a revered place in Native culture and society," said Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians, one of the organizations leading Heritage Month efforts. Keel, the Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, also serves as a member of the board of advisors at the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, a Heritage Month organizing partner.
Native youth are a growing population with almost 1.7 million Native youth under the age of 18, representing 31.6 percent of the 5.2 million American Indian and Alaska Natives counted in the 2010 Census. These numbers indicate a growing Native youth population that will be more active in society, including voting in elections, participating in the work force, and seeking higher education.
Though many statistics related to Native youth underscore various challenges, Heritage Month will highlight the positive stories and opportunities that are inspiring the youth based resurgence of tribal cultures and economic opportunity. The viral online video, "That's My People," recently produced by Native youth at the National Intertribal Youth Summit, is featured on the newly launched website and tells this story from a youth perspective.
In November, the Center for Native American Youth and the National Association of Broadcasters will release a public service announcement featuring Red Sox"s star Jacoby Ellsbury, Navajo, former Senator Byron Dorgan, and NCAI President Keel to raise awareness about issues facing Native youth.
"Native youth are our most sacred resource and a focus on youth must start in our homes. The home is the center of our family and it's where teaching begins," said National American Indian Housing Council Chairwoman Cheryl A. Causley, Bay Mills Tribes of Chippewa. "As Native nations we must share with the world our reverence for Native youth, and continue to educate our youth about our cultures and traditions, and the importance of community involvement."
Heritage Month 2011 will focus on Native youth living in both rural and urban communities. "The National Council of Urban Indian Health believes that it is important for our Native youth to celebrate and share their culture wherever they may be living, furthering their education, or working. We are looking forward to collaborating with our fellow national organizations and agencies during Native American Heritage Month to celebrate Native youth and wellness," said D'Shane Barnett, Mandan/Arikara, Executive Director of the National Council of Urban Indian Health.
The group of participating Native organizations includes the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, National American Indian Housing Council, Native American Contractors Association, National Congress of American Indians, National Council of Urban Indian Health, and the Washington Internships for Native Students - American University.
The theme has also been adopted by a number of tribal and federal government offices including the Navajo Nation Washington Office, Indian Health Service (a department of the Department of Health and Human Services), National Museum of the American Indian, Census Bureau, Department of Agriculture, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of the Interior, Department of Justice, and Department of Labor. The partners involved coordinate a number of educational events for Washington DC area residents and government employees.
For a list of events being held in the month of November in the Washington DC region and for a national calendar of events, visit the website: AIANHeritageMonth.org »
posted October 25, 2011 8:00 am edt
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