TAHLEQUAH – The 2020-21 Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council was sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee W. Paden during an April 13 virtual inauguration ceremony.
The 2020-21 Tribal Youth Councilors are Watie Byrd and Madison Walters, of Muldrow; Makaya Crisp and Gracyn Rains, of Pryor; Kennedy Weedon, Cason Wright and Lauryn Fields, of Sallisaw; Jaden Jackson and Zane Harbaugh, of Owasso; Baleigh James and Camerin Fite James, of Fort Gibson; Taylor Pearce, of Rose; Daley Reynolds, of Claremore; Charlcie Gatewood, of Welch; Abby Lowe, of Wellington, Kansas; and Chelbie Turtle and Faith Springwater, of Park Hill.
The 17-member council will have an opportunity to help shape tribal policy by learning the CN Constitution and bylaws.
“It is an honor to serve on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and it means a lot to me to be in this position of leadership,” Harbaugh said. “I hope to learn more about the history of the Cherokee people and more about our culture and traditions.”
According to a CN press release, the Tribal Youth Council strives to identify issues affecting Cherokee youth, and to pass on recommendations to the Tribal Council and CN administration.
“Serving as a member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council has allowed me to further establish a foundation of knowledge, including the language, history, culture, and government structure of the Cherokee Nation,” Turtle said. “I am very thankful for the experiences and opportunities the Tribal Youth Council has provided, allowing me to engage and serve the Cherokee people through community service projects. I hope to continue gaining knowledge and developing valuable leadership skills throughout this term.”
Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., who gave the keynote address during the inauguration ceremony, said he was proud to see the group of young Cherokees stepping up to serve their respective communities and provide feedback to CN leadership.
“They are to be commended for their efforts, and Deputy Chief (Bryan) Warner and I look forward to the great things they are sure to accomplish as they serve on the Tribal Youth Council,” he said.
According to the release, the Tribal Youth Council leadership program began in 1989. Members meet monthly, but also serve as ambassadors of the CN on a daily basis.
“Serving on the Tribal Youth Council has expanded my knowledge on my Cherokee culture. It has allowed me to grow closer to my tribe by serving my people,” Lowe, who serves as Tribal Youth Council parliamentarian and represents at-large communities, said. “This will allow me to keep my heritage alive for future generations. Serving as the at-large member, I represent a large citizenship of Cherokee people, and I am so honored to do so.”
The release also states the council’s establishment gives Cherokee youth a platform to learn leadership skills and a chance to service their respective communities.
“By being a part of Tribal Youth Council, I am able to inspire other Cherokee youth to chase after their dreams, as well as doing my part to learn more about the culture, language, and history of our people,” Fields said. “I am grateful to the Cherokee Nation for this opportunity to grow and for their continued support of our Nation’s youth.”