Native Youth Taking the Initiative to Better Indian Country

Published on Jul 09, 2015

Washington, DC – Protecting sacred places. Cleaning up neighborhoods. Standing up against bullying. Eradicating racist sports mascots. Reviving traditional food systems. Revitalizing Indigenous languages.

Across the United States, a growing number of Native youth are taking the initiative in identifying and tackling the most pressing issues facing their tribal nations. They are devising solutions and influencing their peers to strengthen their families and communities in order to eliminate the obstacles that stand in the way of their success.

NCAI, working collaboratively with tribal governments and organizational partners, has played an instrumental role in seeding this movement, from the creation of the Native Children’s Agenda in 2007 to the launch of the First Kids 1st Initiative in 2014. 

“Our youth have unlimited potential,” said Jacqueline Pata, NCAI Executive Director. “We just need to provide them the resources, opportunities and, most importantly, the systems of support that they need to flourish to maximize that potential. When we do, our youth are already proving that they have the fortitude, the drive, and the ingenuity to lead Indian Country to a brighter future.”

Complementing NCAI’s effort to empower Native youth are the White House’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative (launched in July 2014) and the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Initiative, unveiled by President Obama last December. NCAI serves as a primary partner on both initiatives.

“This is rapidly becoming a movement with a life of its own,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “By collaborating with the White House, President Obama, and others on My Brother’s Keeper and Gen-I, we are bringing critical attention to the issues Native youth face and demonstrating that we can make the greatest impact when we work together.”

This promising movement crosses a significant milestone today, when more than a 1,000- Native youth from across the country will participate in the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering. This event provides them the chance to converse with senior Administration officials and the White House Council on Native American Affairs on their issues of greatest concern.


To learn more about NCAI’s initiatives for Native youth, email Joel Chastain at

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