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Youth Conference to Focus on Preservation and Pride of Apache Identity

An upcoming Youth Conference hosted by the White Mountain Apache Education Department will focus on the preservation and pride of Apache identity.
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An upcoming Youth Conference hosted by the White Mountain Apache Education Department will focus on the preservation and pride of Apache identity.

Last year was the first year the conference was held, and it brought together more than 1,000 youth who participated in workshops, presentations, and activities.

“These are challenging times here on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, however, our tribal leaders recognize the value of investment into our Apache youth,” said Harrisen DeClay, education director at the White Mountain Apache Education Department, in a press release. “We are excited to focus on our preservation and identity of being Apache and to provide a dynamic conference full of activities, fun, entertainment, and the sharing of knowledge.”

The conference will host White Mountain Apache youth ages 8 to 18 grouped into varying age groups on each day. On July 20, ages 8 to 10 will be the focus; on July 21, ages 11 to 13; on July 22, ages 14 to 18. The final day, July 23, will be a Back to School Bash for all ages. The bash will feature games, entertainment, lunch, and special appearances by renowned pow wow artists Butch & Antone, Jude Schimmel and family, Supaman, and more.

Each day will be full of workshops about Apache pride and identity, Apache language, Apache food, and Apache history. General sessions will be led by Pearl Yellowman, Navajo, a national Native youth leadership development trainer, and Brian Frejo, founder of Created for Greatness, a drug/alcohol motivational speaker, cultural activist, and youth advocate. Frejo is also an actor who has appeared in films like “Last of the Mohicans,” “Geronimo,” and “Under Siege.”

“The White Mountain Apache Tribe is at a critical and defining moment in our tribe’s history and future… there is no more relevant moment in our tribe’s existence for our youth to understand and embrace our Apache identity,” said White Mountain Apache Vice Chairman Kasey Velasquez in a press release. “These young people will inherit the foundation we create for them and will one day be our leaders. They must embrace who they are as White Mountain Apache people, and more importantly embrace the pride that comes with their tribal affiliation. Together with the Education Department we have put together an activity filled week with the intention that when the conference is over our youth will leave with pride and a stronger sense of Apache identity and understand their role in the future of our tribe.”

Applications are available at the Tribal Education Department, Boys & Girls Club, Cibecue District 1 Council Office and in the HonDah/McNary area. For more information, or to register, contact the White Mountain Apache Education Department at 928-338-6080.