Published On: Thu, Aug 9th, 2018

Cherokee Youth Council has a busy summer


This summer has been an extremely busy time for the Cherokee Youth Council.  The members have had the opportunity to meet and interact with native youth from all over the country, and they have been able to learn about several other indigenous cultures, as well as, share some of the Cherokee culture with others.

Nine of the Youth Council members participated in the annual National UNITY Conference, which was held in San Diego, Calif. this year on July 4-9.  This conference is the largest gathering of native youth in the world, and there were over 140 tribes represented with close to 2,500 participants.  The members attended workshops, trainings, and team building events where they learned about other communities and their issues, creative problem solving, youth empowerment, and resiliency.

TOGETHER: Members of the Cherokee Youth Council and the Cherokee Nation Youth Council, of Tahlequah, Okla., participate in a collaborative project at Tsali Manor where they did rock painting with the elders. (Photos courtesy of Cherokee Youth Council)


When asked about his first UNITY Conference, CYC member Lucian Davis said, “I loved my first UNITY Conference!  We learned so much and met so many amazing people.  It was empowering to see so many native youth proud to be themselves and to see that now is the time that we stand up for who we are and that as youth we are the future of our Tribe.”

When they returned from UNITY, the Cherokee Youth Council hosted the Cherokee Nation Youth Council from Tahlequah, Okla. on July 10-11.  The youth from Cherokee Nation visited cultural sites at Kituwah and Clingman’s Dome, took in tours of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and Oconaluftee Indian Village, and the two Youth Councils shared lunch at Granny’s Kitchen and attended “Unto These Hills” outdoor drama together.  They also participated in a collaborative project at Tsali Manor where they did rock painting with the elders.

Six of the Cherokee Youth Council members participated in the annual cultural exchange outside of Santa Fe, NM with the Pueblo de San Ildefonso community on July 23-27.  This is a small indigenous community consisting of approximately 850 tribal members who welcomed the Youth Council members literally into their homes to share their dances, cooking, and community celebrations with the group.

UNITY: Members of the Cherokee Youth Council are shown (left-right) at the recent UNITY Conference: front row – Nola Teesatuskie, Brayden Taylor, Miss Cherokee Faith Long, and Caedance Smith; back row – Eason Esquivel, Ethan Clapsaddle, Brennsi Jackson, Hope Long, Emma Taylor, Lucian Davis, and Jackson Warshaw.


The girls in the group were able to participate in traditional cooking with members of the San Ildefonso Youth Council and the boys were able to observe their boys’ traditional dances and had a great discussion about traditional life and their cultural values with the boys and group leaders from the community.  They were able to learn about dry farming techniques from a tribal elder and council member as they toured their community garden facility.

Cherokee Youth Council members were also able to participate in the San Ildefonso community celebration called Santiago Day where they had a variety of booths set up, played games, and did a traditional give away where items such as pottery, clothes, food, and baskets were thrown from rooftops to the crowd below.  The group also visited area sites like Sandia Peak and Bandelier National Monument, which is a sacred site of the Pueblo people.  On the last night in San Ildefonso, the group attended a Youth Cultural Night where both Youth Councils performed traditional dances in front of their community which was followed by a traditional meal.

When asked about what the cultural exchange meant to her, CYC member Amaya Hicks said, “Many kids don’t get this opportunity during their lifetime to do this, so I am very grateful for this chance to learn more about a different culture.  All of the activities we did were super fun, we learned a lot, and I am very blessed to have had the opportunity.”

The Cherokee Youth Council is a culturally-based leadership program, aimed at empowering the youth of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians for the betterment of our tribe and community.  The Youth Council is a program of the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute housed at the Cherokee Boys Club.  Our program is supported by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

– Cherokee Youth Council