Navajo Nation Establishes First Ever Youth Advisory Council

Leaders from the executive, legislative and judicial branch join the newly appointed members of the Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council.

Published February 13, 2018

WINDOW ROCK – The three branch chiefs came together on Feb. 11 to approve the appointments of the first ever Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council (NNYAC). The Health, Education and Human Services Committee received and accepted a report Monday with all the NNYAC members, so the two-year period for the position has officially commenced.

“You are all leaders,” President Russell Begaye said during a reception after the appointments were approved. “You are the voice of the Navajo Nation when it comes to youth not only at the local level but at the state and national level, too. Take care of yourselves, congratulations and God bless each one of you.”

Vice President Jonathan Nez also congratulated the youths appointed to the council.

“We are having this conversation about life and talking about how awesome life is,” Vice President Nez said regarding discussions to prevent suicide. “Teach your peers and generation after you about not giving up on your goals and dreams. Our ancestors went through tough times, yet they persevered to get us here today and their resilience is pumping through your veins.”

The NNYAC was designed to give youth a platform to voice their concerns, call awareness to issues they want to confront and engage with the leaders and decision-makers of the Navajo Nation.

During interviews for the council, many of the applicants spoke about their desire to put an end to suicide, and to drug and alcohol abuse. They discussed a need for parental involvement and aspirations to revitalize Navajo language and culture.

“You will be bringing forth your ideas as they face the nation and all of its 110 chapters,” Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates said. “I can see that you’re enthusiastic to get started. The future entails the present. Without the present, you cannot look toward the future to bring your ideas to the table.”

The NNYAC is made up of 12 members between the ages of 14 and 24. Two members, one male and one female, represent each of the five agencies and the Navajo Nation at-large. The responsibilities of the council members, according to the legislation, is to provide policy recommendations, identify issues affecting Navajo youth, and recommend amendments to legislation and plans of operation.

Honorable Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty sponsored the legislation to form the NNYAC and was also in attendance at the reception.

“Maybe we can have the youth council talk about how they would like to address cyberbullying,” Delegate Crotty said. “You have all the knowledge here that can bring this forward. Our children will be innovators, but we have to be careful of predators on the internet. We need to address these issues facing our children. We don’t need to be a nation that only reacts, but we need to be progressive. Let’s make sure our children are safe.”

Members of the council are: Hannah Chone and Adriano Mescal, representing the Eastern Agency; Chantz Samuel and Niagara Rockbridge, representing the Central Agency; Byron James and Angel Hicks, representing Fort Defiance Agency; Nicholas Tsepai and Reniah Manygoats, representing the Northern Agency; Cameron Kee and Sarah Cambridge, representing the Western Agency; and Tyler Johnson and Sunshine Tso, representing the Navajo Nation at-large.

NNYAC Member Hannah Chone said the council is an “opportunity to get involved not only for my agency but to work well with all agencies so we could find solutions for our nation as a whole.”

“I’m more than excited to be working with young individuals and to have, for example, Mr. President Begaye and Vice President Nez as models so that we have something to look up to,” she said. “I know they’ll be very supportive—all the staff, all the branches will be very supportive of us.”

Yvonne Kee Billison, executive staff assistant for the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP), spoke about the effort it took to establish the council.

“The process for the Youth Advisory Council started a year and a half ago,” Kee Billison said. “The government wanted to hear a youth voice and hear how the youth would address the issues facing the Navajo Nation. Historically, youth voice was limited and this is the first time that legislation was passed inclusive of all three branches. That’s never happened before until now.”

OPVP would like to thank the Department of Behavioral Health, the Office of Diné Youth and Judicial Branch staff for helping with the recruitment and interview process.

 

 

 

 

Published February 13, 2018

WINDOW ROCK – The three branch chiefs came together on Feb. 11 to approve the appointments of the first ever Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council (NNYAC). The Health, Education and Human Services Committee received and accepted a report Monday with all the NNYAC members, so the two-year period for the position has officially commenced.

“You are all leaders,” President Russell Begaye said during a reception after the appointments were approved. “You are the voice of the Navajo Nation when it comes to youth not only at the local level but at the state and national level, too. Take care of yourselves, congratulations and God bless each one of you.”

Vice President Jonathan Nez also congratulated the youths appointed to the council.

“We are having this conversation about life and talking about how awesome life is,” Vice President Nez said regarding discussions to prevent suicide. “Teach your peers and generation after you about not giving up on your goals and dreams. Our ancestors went through tough times, yet they persevered to get us here today and their resilience is pumping through your veins.”

The NNYAC was designed to give youth a platform to voice their concerns, call awareness to issues they want to confront and engage with the leaders and decision-makers of the Navajo Nation.

During interviews for the council, many of the applicants spoke about their desire to put an end to suicide, and to drug and alcohol abuse. They discussed a need for parental involvement and aspirations to revitalize Navajo language and culture.

“You will be bringing forth your ideas as they face the nation and all of its 110 chapters,” Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates said. “I can see that you’re enthusiastic to get started. The future entails the present. Without the present, you cannot look toward the future to bring your ideas to the table.”

The NNYAC is made up of 12 members between the ages of 14 and 24. Two members, one male and one female, represent each of the five agencies and the Navajo Nation at-large. The responsibilities of the council members, according to the legislation, is to provide policy recommendations, identify issues affecting Navajo youth, and recommend amendments to legislation and plans of operation.

Honorable Delegate Amber Kanazbah Crotty sponsored the legislation to form the NNYAC and was also in attendance at the reception.

“Maybe we can have the youth council talk about how they would like to address cyberbullying,” Delegate Crotty said. “You have all the knowledge here that can bring this forward. Our children will be innovators, but we have to be careful of predators on the internet. We need to address these issues facing our children. We don’t need to be a nation that only reacts, but we need to be progressive. Let’s make sure our children are safe.”

Members of the council are: Hannah Chone and Adriano Mescal, representing the Eastern Agency; Chantz Samuel and Niagara Rockbridge, representing the Central Agency; Byron James and Angel Hicks, representing Fort Defiance Agency; Nicholas Tsepai and Reniah Manygoats, representing the Northern Agency; Cameron Kee and Sarah Cambridge, representing the Western Agency; and Tyler Johnson and Sunshine Tso, representing the Navajo Nation at-large.

NNYAC Member Hannah Chone said the council is an “opportunity to get involved not only for my agency but to work well with all agencies so we could find solutions for our nation as a whole.”

“I’m more than excited to be working with young individuals and to have, for example, Mr. President Begaye and Vice President Nez as models so that we have something to look up to,” she said. “I know they’ll be very supportive—all the staff, all the branches will be very supportive of us.”

Yvonne Kee Billison, executive staff assistant for the Office of the President and Vice President (OPVP), spoke about the effort it took to establish the council.

“The process for the Youth Advisory Council started a year and a half ago,” Kee Billison said. “The government wanted to hear a youth voice and hear how the youth would address the issues facing the Navajo Nation. Historically, youth voice was limited and this is the first time that legislation was passed inclusive of all three branches. That’s never happened before until now.”

OPVP would like to thank the Department of Behavioral Health, the Office of Diné Youth and Judicial Branch staff for helping with the recruitment and interview process.

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