BLM sponsors Indigenous college students at leadership congress
Junior faculty members play a critical role in NYCALC by working to help mentor and guide the high school students as they complete projects and attend workshops. Together, the participants spend time uplifting and motivating each other, as well as finding solutions for building more self-sufficient and sustainable futures for their communities.
“I’m extremely proud of the junior faculty we selected this year. Because of their involvement and voices, NYCALC will be able to adapt to the rapid changes and challenges Indigenous youth face in their communities,” said Wheeler.
NYCALC provides participants with the space to learn that their voices really matter, not only in terms of the environment, but also in other important community challenges.
Junior faculty member, Sebastian Preston (Tohono O’odham), explains, “My biggest takeaway from NYCALC is all the different types of issues many Native communities face, and how similar their experiences and feelings are. I talked to kids who experience drug abuse, fear of loss of sovereignty or land and mental health issues such as suicide. We do not always get to talk about these situations in school, but youth need the opportunity to talk in a way that is open and not forced, and now we feel like we are an important part of the larger Indigenous community.”
BLM intern and junior faculty members Ipa Dutchover (Akimel O’odham) and Kiana Estate-Gashytewa (Zuni) noted that they were inspired by learning more about how federal agencies and employees work with Tribal organizations to honor the federal government’s nation-to-nation relationship with Tribal Nations, strengthen Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, and uphold the government’s trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations.
Dutchover stated, “Including Indigenous people and their traditional practices on a large scale in land conservation can greatly impact the way the world takes care of the environment as well as provide Indigenous youth with examples of how they can contribute to land conservation in their own communities while simultaneously improving their career opportunities.”
Etsate-Gashytewa expressed a deep gratitude and admiration for Wheeler’s support and mentorship, saying “Brooke Wheeler is the best person for the position and gives lots of care, thought and dedication to helping Indigenous youth. Her support and care comes from the heart.”
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