WASHINGTON – One hundred and seventy five young men and women from nearly 50 tribal communities across the country have convened at the week-long 2011 National Intertribal Youth Summit in Santa Fe, N.M., which runs from July 24-28, 2011. The summit features administration officials from the White House and the Departments of Justice, Interior, Health and Human Services and Education, and it coincides with the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) into law.
The 2011 National Intertribal Youth Summit is a youth leadership conference for tribal youth participants to meet other American Indian and Alaska Native youth through special sessions targeting leadership development and critical youth issues such as healthy relationships and lifestyles, education, substance and alcohol abuse, cultural preservation, community development and protecting the environment.
The summit also provides an opportunity for Obama administration officials to hear directly from youth in Indian Country. The administration and federal agencies have made a commitment to building healthier and safer communities through strengthened coordination and collaboration with tribal partners.
“You are the future, and the small choices you make can have an enormous impact on your communities,” Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli told the group of assembled students. “Tribal communities face unique challenges, and it can’t be overstated the importance of your leadership in securing a bright future for your friends, families, and neighbors.”
In response to requests from tribal leaders for the development of more culturally appropriate prevention, early intervention, treatment, rehabilitation and reentry programs for tribal youth and families, the Justice Department launched the Youth Summit initiative to promote long-term improvement in public safety in tribal communities.
The summit’s focus was on youth voices. During the week-long session, participants had the opportunity to create a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to run in their communities. In a special session called Voices of Youth, participants shared thoughts, concerns and recommendations on ways to address public safety and positively impact the lives of youth across Indian Country—providing a platform for honest dialogue with federal officials. Additional workshops provided tribal youth with knowledge and skills in leadership development and strategies for achieving academic and career success.
Youth were nominated by their tribal youth program coordinators and submitted an application to attend the summit. The Department of Justice’s Office on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (OJJDP) and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) made the final selections.
In addition to the Youth Summit this week, Attorney General Eric Holder, thirty U.S. Attorneys and other administration officials will visit Rapid City and Pine Ridge Reservation, S.D., to engage in listening sessions with tribal leaders and hear from advocates in the fields of tribal safety and domestic violence. Attorney General Holder will also participate in a special wreath laying ceremony at Wounded Knee.