Aspen Institute Event and White House Tribal Nations Conference Brings Young Native Americans to DC

November 12, 2013

Contact: Erin Bailey, Director
Center for Native American Youth
The Aspen Institute

Aspen Institute Event and White House Tribal Nations Conference Brings Young Native Americans to DC
Senator Byron Dorgan will moderate a discussion with five Champions for Change at a Washington, DC Native American Heritage Month event titled “Native American Youth Impacting Our World.” 

Washington, DC, November 12, 2013 –– On Tuesday, November 12 and Wednesday, November 13, the five recipients of the Center for Native American Youth’s (CNAY) 2013 Champions for Change award will participate in a series of events at the Aspen Institute and the White House. CNAY will host a public event, attended by several members of Congress and senior Administration officials, to celebrate National Native American Heritage Month titled, “Native American Youth Impacting Our World.” The event will be held at 12:00pm Tuesday, November 12 at the Aspen Institute offices located in Washington, DC (more details below). The following day, President Obama has extended an invitation to the five young Champions to attend the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference.

November was designated as National Native American Heritage Month in 1990 and today it is celebrated by schools, government agencies, organizations, and individuals across the nation. In celebration, former US Senator Byron Dorgan, CNAY’s founder and chairman, will moderate a panel discussion featuring the five 2013 Champions for Change, who have been recognized as Native American young people making positive change in Indian Country. 

Speaking about the 2013 Champions for Change and Tuesday’s event, Senator Dorgan said, “These young people are a tremendous inspiration to everyone in this country. They are leading change in areas of education, oral health, cancer awareness, language preservation, and youth leadership.”

Dorgan, who created the Center for Native American Youth upon his retirement from the US Senate with $1 million of leftover campaign funds, also emphasized, “Despite our failure as a federal government to meet trust responsibilities, Indian Country is full of good news. We all need to thank the valiant leadership of tribal leaders and youth; further, it is our obligation to show these youth that their voices matter and their needs are not invisible”     

Senator Dorgan will moderate the dialogue with the five Champions for Change as they discuss the importance of highlighting positive youth-led efforts, how culture and heritage play a role in inspiring young people in Indian Country, and what Native American youth need from policy-makers and advocates to be successful in addressing the myriad challenges experienced by young people in Indian Country. The panel will be followed by an open discussion with the audience. 

“It’s an honor to be on stage with Senator Dorgan and my fellow Champions in celebration of Native American Heritage Month. I’m excited to share my perspective on the issues impacting Native communities, especially our youth. I think it’s important for policy-makers to hear our voices today, and know that young people like the Champions want to play a role in making a difference for our Native youth.” Dahkota Brown, 2013 Champion for Change. 

In addition to the public event and participation at the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference, these youth will speak to tribal leaders at Casey Family Program’s meetings in DC and participate in a youth leadership training facilitated by staff from the Children’s Defense Fund.

This event is open to the public and press. Event details are provided below:

“Native American Youth Impacting Our World”
Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
The Aspen Institute
One Dupont Circle, NW; Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
*Lunch buffet will be served 

RSVP is required. Please RSVP here.
Please direct questions to or 202-736-2908. 

The Champions for Change program, inspired by a 2011 White House event, recognizes and encourages inspirational Native American youth (ages 14 to 22) working in their tribal or urban Indian communities to promote hope and make a positive impact. Champions can include individuals who initiate programs, events, or other efforts to improve the lives of fellow Native youth and Indian Country as a whole.  

Center for Native American Youth is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan in February 2011, the Center is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. The Center works to strengthen and create new connections as well as exchange resources and best practices that address the challenges facing Native youth. Visit the Center’s website for a comprehensive list of resources available to young Native Americans, tribes and the general public. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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