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Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico

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The pueblo's Walatowa Youth Center held its grand opening May 27, marking nearly a decade of action to bring youth services and activities to the community. A group of 26 youths, 13 to 21, left the village at dawn July 15, 1995, in the time-honored tradition of long-distance running. They were inspired by a May visit to a Jemez town meeting by then-Attorney General Janet Reno, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Interior's Assistant Secretary Ada Deer and Indian Health Service Director Michael Trujillo. Ten states and 13 days later they arrived in Washington D.C., where they were greeted by Rep. Bill Richardson at the Capitol. They delivered their concerns, hand-carried more than 1,800 miles, to Reno who professed to be deeply moved that they met her challenge to "continue the dialogue with respect to the concerns and issues of the tribe, namely the elder and youth programs. That was the birth of the Youth Center Project. Tribal leaders kept the project alive and funding to complete Phase I came from multiple donors with in-kind assistance and financial aid.