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2017-07-13 / Headlines

Newly Formed Oglala Sioux Tribe Youth Council Looks to Grow

BY BRANDON ECOFFEY
LCT EDITOR


Miguel Baca poses with Tatanka Means at this year’s UNITY conference. Miguel Baca poses with Tatanka Means at this year’s UNITY conference. PINE RIDGE — This year more than 30 Oglala Lakota Youth attended the United National Indian Tribal Youth conference in Denver, Colorado. With the experience and training they gathered there one group is now looking to help others access that same knowledge.

The United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) organization is dedicated to helping young people organize and contribute to their communities. For over 30 years the organization has helped young Native people establish and maintain their own youth councils. This year the Oglala Sioux Tribe is beneficiary of that effort as 13 young people from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have come together to create the Oglala Sioux Tribal Youth Council.

Although the Youth Council is in its infancy it is currently being headed up by Miguel Eagle. LCT was able to interview Miguel on the goals of the new youth council and the efforts to expand its reach to all parts of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

“Right now we are just getting started and most of the kids participating are from Pine Ridge,” said Miguel. “The reason why it started like this is that we attempted to recruit people for the council using a peer-to-peer approach to recruiting.”

According to the UNITY website, “Youth Councils are engaged in annual projects in four areas – cultural preservation, environmental awareness, healthy lifestyles, and community service. UNITY has a growing number of affiliated youth councils, which currently stands at 160 in operation in a total of 36 states. UNITY is the only organization to have a formal network of youth councils.”

The youth council on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is part of this network.

“What we want to do is promote a message of unity and to help youth across the area gain access to the resources that we use,” said Baca.

Native youth throughout the United States who are involved in UNITY elect individuals to serve as Area Representatives on the National UNITY Council Executive Committee. The ten geographical areas are as follows: Great Plains, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, Pacific, Rocky Mountain, Southeast, Southern Plains, Southwest, and Western. Two youth (one young man, one young woman) are elected at large to serve as Co-Presidents.

Miguel says that other youth who want to be part of the OST Youth Council can find more information on the OST Youth Council’s Facebook page.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at editor@lakotacountrytimes.com)

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