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The Grand Canyon Regional Intertribal Intergenerational Stewardship Expedition (RIISE) invites Native youth from ages 16-20, identifying as members of affiliated tribes of the Grand Canyon, to apply for its third annual, free, nine-day Colorado River rafting excursion through the Grand Canyon, from July 15-23. '

Organized by the Grand Canyon Trust and Grand Canyon Youth, with support from Arizona Raft Adventures and Grand Canyon Expeditions, this immersive journey will accommodate up to 18 young leaders, offering them the opportunity to explore the Grand Canyon alongside Indigenous knowledge keepers, river guides, and environmental advocates. 

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“Our goal is to bring young Native leaders back to their ancestral lands to learn from their elder tribal relatives the histories and stories of the Grand Canyon,” said trip facilitator Amber Benally of the Grand Canyon Trust, in a press release. “Our people were forced from their homelands to make room for Grand Canyon National Park, and too often I hear our young people say, ‘there’s nothing there for me’ or ‘I don’t belong here.’ But we do belong here. We are still here. And sharing knowledge and connecting with the canyon and with each other is an important way to remember who we are as Indigenous people.”

Through storytelling and dialogue, participants will gain insights into the past, present and future of the Grand Canyon. Benally stresses that while the journey promises adventure, its primary objective is to empower Native youth to shape the Canyon’s future effectively.

Participants should be comfortable with outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. The expedition covers all expenses, including transportation, meals, rafting gear, and camping equipment. Participants will undergo six weeks of pre-trip online education, preparing them for the expedition while delving into environmental justice issues specific to the Grand Canyon region. 

“The canyon has taught me that challenges are part of the journey,” said 2023 RIISE participant Tryston Wakayuta (Hualapai and Hopi) in a press release. “Locations and situations constantly change but the mission has always been the same: to keep changing and growing and learning different perspectives. Trips like this remind me to be great through our cultures and traditions.”

Applications for RIISE 2024 are open until May 4, 2024. Interested individuals can find further details and access the application here. Accepted applicants commit to six weeks of pre-trip online learning and the full river trip from July 15-23, 2024. 

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