Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 2 October, 2011

Project teaches Native youth to be leaders
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Nebraska. A padlock barred seven Santee and Ponca students from an exhibit on Native people at the University of Nebraska State Museum. So they sat in the hallway as museum officials talked about the "First Peoples of the Plains" exhibit which was scheduled to open later in the month.

"We want to talk about what are contemporary first peoples doing now in the Great Plains," said Alan Osborn, curator of anthropology at the museum.

The seven students are part of the 2011 Native Sovereignty Youth Project.  Youth representing Nebraska's four tribes -- Omaha,  Ponca, Santee and Winnebago -- met in Lincoln for the project's kick-off activities. They were learning to be Native leaders and professionals in the 21st century.

The Native Sovereignty Youth Project is a leadership project organized by the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and local donors. It introduce students to Native and non-Native professionals and leaders, including professors, attorneys, senators and even football coaches.

"This is a way of equipping that next generation of leaders-to-be," said  Scott Shafer of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.

"I'm really interested in getting involved and being a leader," said Shanna Wolff, a 16-year-old Ponca who hopes to become an attorney focusing on tribal law. "I want to give back."

Dakota Denney, 17, hopes to learn leadership skills to take back to a community youth council in which he participates.

"We get together and we plan on making our community better," he said of the council.  "I'm looking to actually be more of a leader when I go back to Santee. I'll  have more knowledge so I'll be able to help out more."

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