Here, and an excerpt:
Native American youth represent some of the most inspiring, resilient leaders across our country, especially in tribal and urban Indian communities. Their resiliency exists despite health, education, and other significant disparities, structural racism, and barriers to success. At a recent convening at the White House, co-hosted by the Aspen InstituteCenter for Native American Youth (CNAY), first lady Michelle Obama acknowledged the issues they face.
“Folks in Indian Country didn’t just wake up one day with addiction problems,” Obama said. “Poverty and violence didn’t just randomly happen… these issues are the result of a long history of systematic discrimination and abuse.”
The Creating Opportunities for Native Youth convening brought together the first lady, several US Cabinet secretaries, and more than 160 nonprofit and philanthropic leaders, policymakers, tribal leaders, and youth for a day of discussions around increasing investments in Native American youth. The goal of the convening was to elevate awareness about Native youth issues, facilitate actionable dialogue, and call for increased public and private sector investments in Native American youth.
More often than their non-Native peers, Native youth go to schools that lack adequate resources to hire enough teachers, mental health counselors, and other necessary support staff and materials. They wait in long lines — for hours — to see a doctor within a health care system that is funded at half of the communities’ needs. And Native Americans experience higher rates of poverty and homelessness than any other population in this country. The challenges they face each day are very real, but are often left out of the national dialogue.
That context is important.