The National Congress of American Indians holds in high regard the accomplishments, potential, and impact of Native Youth. As an important part of tribal communities, tribal leaders have, for time immemorial, strived to ensure that youth have the tools and resources to positively impact their communities. In addition to implementing a number of year-round, ongoing programs, NCAI strives to support events which bring youth together on a National scale and celebrate youth achievements
Watch a video about youth leadership and NCAI from NCAI's 2011 Annual Convention.
In 2011 and 2012 NCAI collaborated with the Department of Justice to host the National Indian Youth Summit. NCAI also invited the winners of the White House Champions of Change competition to the Embassy of Tribal Nations to honor them and their commitment to their communities. Also, NCAI often hosts school groups from throughout Indian Country at the embassy to teach youth about American Indian Policy and advocacy for tribes in Washington DC.
Through a number of channels, NCAI seeks to support Native Youth in their efforts to help build a brighter future for Indian Country.
NCAI’s Youth Commission offers youth ages 16-23 the opportunity to engage on National scale along-side tribal leaders to help address the issues facing Indian Country. Established in 1997, the NCAI Youth Commission has been a space for tribal youth to come together and discuss solutions to the unique challenges they face within their communities.
The new Native “baby boom” is coming of age at a time when tribal nations are facing and meeting challenges in setting youth development and leadership goals. Our sizeable young population represents an unprecedented moment of opportunity for tribes. The choices that Indian Country – including individual tribes – make in the coming years will determine our collective future. Now is the time to build a brighter future that addresses the significant challenges facing Native youth.
Recognizing this critical moment, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) established the National Native Youth Cabinet (NNYC) to support Native youth and tribal efforts to foster leaders of tomorrow. Currently, there are 9 Native youth who participate in the NNYC. The goal of this project is to increase the number of American Indian and Alaska Native youth who are prepared with political knowledge and skills to become national and tribal leaders, and to identify strategies for improving policy and data on issues of significance to Native youth.
In 2013, the National Native Youth Cabinet helped identify policy priorities that will inform NCAI’s data development and advocacy in 2014. The NNYC participated in trainings for policy development and Native youth resilience, as well as virtual leadership and wellness trainings with tribal leaders.
In 2014, NCAI is expanding the National Native Youth Cabinet to include greater geographic and tribal diversity, and to include youth with juvenile justice or child welfare systems experience. All applicants will be considered equally but youth from Alaska, Northern Plains, the Pacific Northwest, California, the Southeast, and the Northeast are strongly encouraged to apply.
• Age 16 to 25 years (age exceptions considered with written tribal justification).
• Tribal nomination of :
o An existing executive level tribal youth cabinet member, or
o An existing tribal youth council member, or
o A young person designated to explore and create either a tribal youth cabinet position or youth council.
o Have access to a computer with video and audio capacities, and internet.
o Be available to travel in July 2014 to Washington, DC, for a Data Institute consisting of data training, analysis, and interpretation with federal agency and tribal partners. (Travel and accommodation expenses will be provided.)
National Native Youth Cabinet members:
1. Are provided resources and opportunities to develop skills that:
o Advance youth leadership in financial literacy, resilience, and policy advocacy;
o Set and further a national Native youth policy agenda; and
o Collaboratively work with policymakers, researchers, and programs that affect Native youth.
2. Partner with federal agencies, advocacy organizations, and community partners to ensure quality data collection, analysis, and reporting on the status and experiences of Native youth.
3. Learn from and share perspectives with tribal leaders.
4. Use virtual technology for networking and education experiences, including working to develop a Native youth resilience framework and meaningful measures of youth experiences.
- Download Tribal Youth Cabinet Announcement (contains eligibility and application information)
In late 2012, NCAI launched NDNSpark, an online community for Native youth to use as they develop into the next generation of leaders. The platform is designed to help youth set and achieve goals that will enhance their everyday life. Join NDNSpark
Fellowships and Internships
NCAI offers fellowships and internships for students and young professionals to earn valuable experience working with the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative organization, advocating on behalf of tribal governments. Fellowships last 11 months, while internships are arranged on a case-by-case basis.
Read More about Fellowships and Internships