Native Youth Leadership Alliance

(Ray Yazzie) Reflections from ‘Share Your Spark’ Workshop in Rapid City, South Dakota

Seeing the continuity of the partnerships we’ve made and efforts we’ve committed to as a NYLA collective has always followed with feelings of pride and accomplishment.

This year at AIHEC (American Indian Higher Education Consortium) Conference 2012 in Rapid City, SD, this sense of pride and accomplishment for NYLA was rejuvenated as the room filled with curious strangers not sure what kind of workshop they were walking into. “Come Share Your Spark” Native, Youth, Leadership, Alliance, I’m pretty sure when they looked through the conference workshop agenda these words stuck out and sparked their interest. I know these are the kind of words I look for when I’m looking for a hour and a half long workshop I want to sit through.

Everybody came in and sat in a circle, and then Sophia, NYLA Co-Director and Terra, NYLA Steering Committee, laid the platform for the conversation.  After we all introduced ourselves, we then shared about our vision and how we want to and are leading to make our communities better.  NYLA is beginning to fill the need for a demographic that has no outlet and few means of expression that fit who we are as Indian people, young people at that.  This is the center of what makes and continues to make NYLA great.  It is good to see our work as founders to create these spaces becoming a reality.

In a day and age where there is no template for how to live a lifestyle that meets our traditional & spiritual needs while sustaining our own lifestyles in this modern world, the lines between balance and identity become static, unclear.

Just like at last year’s AIHEC as everybody began to “Share Their Spark”, the air in the room began to shift. Something about getting a bunch of young natives in a room and telling them to speak from a personal place and on personal themes like inspiration and interest always gets things moving. Each individual that came in shared who they were, what they wanted and why. Simple right?  Not when nobody ever asked.

It takes courage sitting in front of a room of strangers and start to speak on why and how you want to make things better, this is because our hope is always connected to our plights and our struggles. And this will always be the need we as NYLA fill, giving and creating a space for young Indian people to share and relate who we are and what we want, then doing it.  We were also blessed to have two of our NYLA elder Advisory Council members Gay Kingman and Robert Cook share their wisdom and support with us.

Visit Ray Yazzie’s NYLA Profile