OPINION: Cherokee Youth Summit builds leadership
There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about what our work means for the next seven generations. What we do today will not only affect my children and grandchildren, but it will also leave a lasting impact that will be felt for generations to come. That’s why empowering youth is a priority for my administration.
At the Cherokee Nation, we focus on empowering the next generation of leaders at every level. Whether our Cherokee youth go on to become leaders for the CN, across Indian Country or at the national level, I know we have talented young minds who will someday make a difference in the lives of others.
Toward that end, our CN Tribal Youth Council will host its annual Tribal Youth Summit on March 19 at the Chota Center in Tahlequah, and we invite young people ages 14-22 to attend. It is a chance to connect with other Cherokee youth and spend quality time immersed in Cherokee culture and leadership development. Fittingly, this year’s theme is “Empowering Youth.” There is no better way to empower youth than to give them the tools and resources they need to succeed.
We expect close to 200 attendees, and our aim is to help them develop goals, set benchmarks for themselves and learn ways to reach those objectives. Our hope is that our Cherokee youth will be inspired. When they return to their schools, families and communities, it will be with a stronger Cherokee identity and a better idea of how to make positive changes in the world.
Whether they leave home to get a college education or remain in their communities and enter the workforce, young Cherokees, with the right map and circle of support, will find their way to the CN to offer the skills, talent and abilities that will better the lives of the Cherokee people. Whether they are interested in history, science or arts, there is a place for these future leaders in the CN and beyond.
As principal chief of the CN, I have traveled across our 14 counties and throughout our at-large Cherokee communities, meeting youth from every area along the way. I can say with confidence that the CN is in good hands. Our future is bright because our young people are engaged and committed to our culture, our values and our Nation.
The CN Tribal Youth Council plays a vital role in engaging young people in tribal governance and ensuring their voices are heard. Their leadership on important issues, such as language revitalization, is critical to ensure such efforts perpetuate.
The world could use more Cherokee leaders, and I know no group of people is more committed to leading with bold, innovative ideas than our creative young people who have a passion for public service and broadening their own knowledge base and skill sets.
We must ensure Cherokee youth remain a priority, and the upcoming youth summit will provide an important forum as our young people continue to grow as leaders in their communities. Register online at cnyouthsummit.eventbrite.com
or call 918-772-4205 for information.