Statement from Chairwoman Haaland Regarding the Inaugural White House Native Youth Conference

States that President Obama continues to make history in Indian Country

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for 875 Native American youth, recently, when they were invited by the White House for the inaugural Tribal Youth Gathering in collaboration with United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) and the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services. Young people representing 230 tribes from 42 states were welcomed by First Lady Michelle Obama, cabinet officials, the White House Council on Indian Affairs and non-federal partners.

The First Lady reminded the group that “Together, you represent so many rich cultures and such a proud heritage, one that has shaped this country for centuries.”

The impetus for this event came from a visit that President Obama made to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in June of 2014. Soon after, the President tasked his Administration with working to improve conditions across the board for Indian Youth.

50 New Mexico tribal youth were among the nearly 900 who turned out, including Alicia Chavez, from San Felipe, one of 25 Pueblo members in attendance, who commented that “students from tribes across the country share so many issues – we all became motivated to do more in our communities.” Alicia added that “if we work together on things like substance abuse, we can accomplish so much!”

DPNM Chairwoman Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) said, “President Obama continues to make history in Indian Country. I’m especially grateful that he has chosen to target Native youth with specific and positive initiatives that will ensure better educational, social, and healthcare outcomes. The President’s agenda on Native American issues has been fulfilled and he has helped to improve many lives in native communities across the country.”