Hands on hip in front of the US capitol building, a youth wears a tee shirt that reads Strong, Resilient, Indigenous.
Five youths smile in front of the US capitol building wearing brightly colored clothing.
Standing at the edge of grassland, a group of youths laugh under a bright sunny sky.
On stage, youths with megaphones raise their fists toward the sky at an outdoor gathering.
A group of youths shake the hand of Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, in her office at the US capitol building.
Raising her megaphone to the sky, a youth addresses listeners at an outdoor gathering.

Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute

The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) recognizes that youth leadership is critical in building Indigenous power. CNAY supports young leaders through training, intergenerational learning, culturally immersive curriculum and promotes youth-driven narrative and policy change at the tribal, local, state, and national levels.

At CNAY, we recognize that youth are capable of solutions to create positive change in their communities. In order to successfully implement programming for youth and to address equity and inclusivity in the outdoors, we must center traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous ways of knowing. Through our Ambassadors for Land Conservation program, youth receive trainings, intergenerational learning spaces, and promote policy change at the local, state, and national levels to protect the earth for future generations.

It is imperative that our society, particularly those in the conservation space, dismantle systems that inhibit traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous excellence. Collectively, we must recognize the historical and sovereign rights of tribal nations and their connection to lands and honor the spiritual, medicinal, and cultural practices that connect us to place. Without the protection and access to land, culture simply cannot be sustained for future generations. Ensuring inclusivity and equity within the outdoors is critical to ensure the mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of Native youth and community.

We believe in the youth voice and providing youth resources to make their hopes and visions for the future a reality. Through our programs and initiatives, youth participate in culturally immersive advocacy; create structural change by addressing policies that impact the land and their communities; and address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Trans & Two Spirit relatives with the foundational truth that in order to protect the land, we must protect our women. Too often, Native youth are erased from the media, or their story is told on their behalf at a deficit. CNAY is committed to amplifying the voices of Native peoples, including in the conservation and land protection space.

We are hopeful for a future where Native American and Indigenous youth voices are amplified and continue to lead in solutions to create a more equitable, just, and inclusive world.

To learn more, visit https://www.cnay.org