State of New Mexico Indian Affairs Department
The New Mexico Indigenous Youth Council (IYC) presented its final report and recommendations to improve Indigenous youth wellness to Governor Lujan Grisham and tribal leaders at the 2021 State-Tribal Leader Summit last week. The annual summit, established in 2009 under the State Tribal Collaboration Act, seeks to ensure that tribal priorities guide state-level policymaking and funding priorities. This year’s Indigenous Youth Council presentation was the first of its kind at this event, where state and tribal leaders heard directly from Indigenous youth.
The Indigenous Youth Council’s final report and recommendations are products of the 2021 Indigenous Youth Wellness Summit. Hosted virtually on June 11-12, 2021, the youth summit convened fifty Indigenous youth aged 16 to 25 from across the state’s tribal communities. The youth summit’s plenary sessions and four breakout sessions gathered Indigenous youth feedback on what they envision for Indigenous youth health and well-being. After the youth summit, the Indigenous Youth Council utilized this feedback to develop recommendations to the state, tribal leadership, and other partners to better support Indigenous youth and improve their holistic wellness.
The Council’s recommendations are organized into four priority areas: physical, mental, social & emotional, and spiritual & cultural wellness and two other priority areas relating to elevating the Indigenous youth perspective and learning from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Each recommendation is organized into target timeframes of short-term (less than two years), mid-term (two-five years), and long-term (more than five years). The recommendations are directed to state and tribal leadership as well as other tribal partners globally.
“The recommendations made by the Indigenous Youth Council call on us as leaders to come together to improve access to behavioral and mental health services and resources for the youth of New Mexico. As Governor, I will continue to advocate for our young people and will work to ensure that proper resources and support are available in this time of acute need,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
“I am thankful to the Indigenous Youth Council for coming together; for sharing their time, knowledge, and experiences that helped to guide them in putting forth recommendations in their final report,” said Indian Affairs Cabinet Secretary Lynn Trujillo. “I am proud to see these leaders in action, addressing complex issues that our youth face to protect future generations.
“I am in hopes that each IYC member work alongside our Tribal Leaders to take these recommendations back to our respective tribes, nations, and pueblos. I wish that the Indigenous youth’s aspirations and struggles are acknowledged and that the communities work together to encourage self-care through holistic wellness activities. In these ways, our Indigenous communities become stronger together,” said Kaylee Wood, Jicarilla Apache Nation, IYC Member.
“Our tribal youth and communities benefit greatly from these recommendations, and we hope they restore beauty as we overcome this global Pandemic. Our cultural values, languages, and teachings make us One People, and these recommendations bring us together for our future generations,” said Triston Black, Navajo Nation, IYC Member.
“My hope for the recommendations we pushed forward is that their significance is upheld and actualized for the well-being and safety of New Mexico’s Indigenous youth. I also hope that youth leadership, creativity, and innovation are continually cherished because transformation is brought on by those wishing for better futures,” said Shayna Naranjo, Santa Clara Pueblo, IYC Member.
For more information and access to the Indigenous Youth Council’s final report, please visit www.iad.state.nm.us/from-the-office/indigenous-youth-council.