Native Youth Leadership Alliance

(Amy Stiffarm) Northwest Area Foundation Spotlight

Amy Stiffarm is not content with the phrase “That’s just the way it is.” The Native Youth Leadership Alliance (NYLA) Fellow has a vision for change, fueled in part by training and support the program provides.

“Before, I never questioned things,” she said. “People would say diabetes and obesity are common health problems for Native Americans – that’s just the way it is. Now I ask ‘Why? Why can’t we change that?’ I’m a true believer in holistic health.”

A member of the Whiteclay Nation and descendant of the Chippewa Cree and Blackfeet Nations, Stiffarm is studying to be a naturopathic physician. The NYLA curriculum help provide her the tools to be a transformational leader as she finishes her formal education and returns home to the Fort Belknap reservation in Montana.

“I want to empower youth and let them know there are resources to make deep and lasting change,” Stiffarm added. “If they want to open a community fitness center, they need to realize ‘Hey, I can be part of that.’ I want them to know that it’s OK to dream.”

The big vision is to improve Native health through prevention. Stiffarm also hopes to help Native Americans take charge of their medical needs through reviving and integrating traditional forms of healing.  She hopes to promote science education so more Native youth pursue careers in the sciences. The intergenerational exchange and culturally grounded support of the NYLA fellowship gives her a solid platform from which to make that impact.

“NYLA has helped me realize there are plenty of people supporting my efforts. People are willing to mentor, and they are willing to help us find funding for community projects,” she said. “I also have realized that I must have work-life balance in order to help others.”

Link to Northwest Area Foundation

See Amy’s NYLA Profile