Its’ not a new problem, but it remains a challenge: Securing a full, bright tomorrow for the traditions and motivations of tribes across the nation means channeling the talents of the youth who make up the Native populations in the fast approaching future.
How to do that – inspire and secure the youth on paths to education and leadership – has been a goal of former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah, as the Arizona Republic reports.
Now is a time when the tribal governments across the nation are pushing for more sovereignty, the AR points out, but Zah is worried that the tough realities on most reservations continue to keep promising leaders on paths away from leadership.
The youth need role models, Zah said.
Youth leadership mentor McClellan ‘Mac’ Hall gave his take as well.
McClellan “Mac” Hall, director and founder of the New Mexico-based National Indian Youth Leadership Project, said indigenous teens are confronted by a legacy of subjugation, a shortage of mentors and a minefield of socio-economic barriers.
“You can stay stuck in that historical trauma, or you can move on,” Hall said. “We’re trying to look past that and make a more positive future.”
Hall, a Cherokee married to a Navajo, worked for years as a high-school teacher and principal in Gallup, watching students get sucked into a vortex of failure. Finally, he quit to create a program that blends team building, civic responsibility and personal development.
“I think people are looking for fresh ideas and motivated youth,” Hall said.