We conclude Women’s History Month by sharing this timely blog from Ambassadors For Land Conservation, a program of the Center for Native American Youth and part of our inaugural Liberated Paths grantee cohort.
The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) honors Women’s History Month, recognizing the contemporary contributions of Native American women every day. Our mission at CNAY is to improve the health, safety, and overall well-being of Native American youth. CNAY works toward this mission through projects such as Ambassadors for Land Conservation, a program that is partially supported by Justice Outside’s Liberated Paths Grantmaking Program (more on this below). Our team is made up of a collective of strong women invested in the work: Kyra, Kendra, Lia, Jen, Cheyenne, Billie Jo, and Nikki. We are not only committed to young people, but leading with Indigenous values such as humility, love, and the value in every voice – to name a few. Under the leadership of Nikki Pitre, CNAY is deconstructing patriarchal, colonial systems of work by prioritizing these values and mental health. We promote the decolonization of data by developing and incorporating Indigenous Frameworks and Methodologies that serve as the foundation for all CNAY programs and initiatives.
Our programming is informed and led by Native American youth and prioritizes their voices. CNAY serves as a vessel for young leaders to make their visions and desires of change a reality. During a pandemic that has disproportionately impacted Native communities, CNAY created several programs to ensure that Native youth are supported and given the resources they need. One of these programs is Ambassadors for Land Conservation, a culturally immersive fellowship that empowers Native American youth to become knowledge keepers in the fight to protect land, waterways, and sacred sites. The program incorporates an intergenerational approach, including collaborations with others across location and gender identity. Additionally, we believe that programs such as Ambassadors for Land Conservation play a critical role in increasing the visibility of Indigenous communities and their leadership. With the support of the Liberated Paths Grantmaking Program, Ambassadors for Land Conservation is leading youth-driven advocacy and policy efforts.
Photo Courtesy of Isabella Madrigal
Most recently, CNAY has launched Remembering our Sisters during Women’s History Month. The Remembering our Sisters Fellowship was created in direct response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls & 2 Spirit (MMIWG2S+) epidemic. Female and femme identifying youth have the opportunity to raise awareness of the epidemic, advocate for better policies, and change the narrative of Indigenous Women, girls, and two spirit people through a visual arts and storytelling program. We encourage you to learn how you can better protect Indigenous women, girls, and two spirit people. You can visit the National Indigenous Resource Center here, or review the report done by the Urban Indian Health Institute here.
CNAY works to increase the visibility of Native American youth through our work every day, but we take extra care this month to thank, celebrate, and recognize the resiliency of Native American Women and we invite you to do the same.
The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute is celebrating ten years this year! Founded in 2011 by Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.), CNAY was created to address Native youth suicide. The Center for Native American Youth works with all self-identified Indigenous and Native youth ages 24 and under from urban, rural, reservation, and village communities. CNAY achieves the mission by offering programming that focuses on leadership and empowerment, youth-led policy and advocacy, narrative change, and serving as a good relative to like-minded organizations who are committed to the advancement of Native American youth.