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The Native Nations Institute believes that young people are critical contributors who carry the capacity and courage to effect lasting and positive change for their communities. An important element in their success is to have the necessary tools and resources to help them realize their potential. On March 27th, the Native Nations Institute (NNI) hosted the Future Native Nation Builders (Futures) seminar, part of its youth leadership development program designed to reach Native, college-aged students who attend higher education institutions within Arizona. Twelve participants represented their home communities of Navajo Nation, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, White Mountain Apache Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Zuni Pueblo, and Hopi Tribe, and their undergraduate programs at the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, Dine College, Tohono O'odham Community College, and Mesa Community College.
The students prepared for the seminar by enrolling in NNI's seminal Rebuilding Native Nations (RNN) online course. NNI's Executive Director Joan Timeche (Hopi), Outreach Specialist and Senior Researcher Danielle Hiraldo (Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina), Program Coordinator Sr. Davida Delmar (Navajo Nation/Diné), and Graduate Research Assistant Amanda LeClair-Diaz (Eastern Shoshone/Northern Arapaho) led the 1.5-hour video session, which guided the cohort through Native Nation Building approaches, while also pulling from their personal experiences. Facilitators asked everyone what elements of their nations would they keep the same, what would they change, and how they can impact the future direction of each?
"The seminar has been a great opportunity for NNI to catch-up with our college-based leaders and to step onto the virtual stage. There was a great level of engagement and movement building."
The seminar, initially scheduled to be held at Tohono O'odham Nation's Desert Diamond Casino, was convened via video conference in order to comply with coronavirus shelter-in-place mandates. Students will continue to build on this initial session by mapping decision-making in their communities, and then incorporating this work into their degree programs. The second Futures session met on April 29th through video conference.