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On October 9-11, Native Nations Institute hosted Pascua Yaqui Tribe youth from the Lutu'uria Youth Group (LYG) and Youth Move group for Project Youth ACT, a youth-focused program. NNI partnered directly with the (LYG), part of the Guadalupe Prevention Partnership led by Vanessa Bustos. In 2017, NNI developed Project Youth ACT as a way to bring nation building to Indian Country's rising, young leaders. At PY ACT, students participated in daily workshops and skills labs where they create media projects to address and deliver a message as agents of change.
Lutu'uria was created in 2009 to serve students in grades 5-12 and offer safe spaces to help foster healthy development and leadership for Yaqui youth. NNI's Project Youth ACT aligned with the group's mission and offered an innovative outlet for student voices as well as support for their visions of change. Nine girls total, eight from Lutu'uria members and one Youth Move member, attended the session.
The students worked individually or in teams to create media projects that addressed essential areas of concern in their communities. Topics addressed included preservation of Yaqui knowledge and culture, drug prevention, gun violence, and returning care and pride for the land and community the surrounds them. Yaqui youth and PY ACT participant Ashley Villegas delivered a powerful statement in her media project. "We need to know who we are. The Yaqui Nation is slowly fading. Over 75% of Guadalupe's population is under the age of 25. We will carry forward the Yaqui Nation, but we don't know anything about being Yaqui." NNI Senior Graphic Designer Amy Jorgensen spoke of seeing the power and transformation that came from the group as they progressed from naming challenges in their community, brainstorming nation building solutions, and finally creating impactful videos to inspire lasting change.
Project Youth ACT put together a diverse and expert team of NNI staff, field advisors, and University of Arizona (UA) leaders and educators to work with the Pascua Yaqui youth. Special guest speakers included Amy Juan (Tohono O'odham Nation) from the International Indian Treaty Council, Roberto Narcho (Tohono O'odham), Amanda Cheromiah (Pueblo of Laguna), and Chad Harrison (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe). Juan shared a video of herself speaking to the United Nations Assembly. She spoke of the right of Indigenous peoples to access media and its effectiveness in bringing change.
NNI staff facilitated the media and nation building session. NNI Media Specialist Jason Aragón was inspired and impressed by the creative energy the girls brought to the room every day. He said, "They had a wonderful instinct when working with media and photography. Their projects held bursts of energy from inside of them. It was an honor to have three days to witness their stories."
Images: Makayla Coronado, Maria Elena Garcia, Daniella Matuz, Rozemary Matus, Tianna Rodriguez, Ashley Villegas, Lilianna Naranjo, Melanie Baumea, Leonna Matus, Joan Timeche, Lindsay Riggs, Danielle Hiraldo, Jason Aragòn, Karen Francis-Begay Vanessa Bustos, Bobby Narcho