In December 2014, President Obama hosted the White House’s 6th Annual Tribal Nations Conference, furthering his initial campaign commitment of improving the relationship between the federal government and tribal governments. During his Tribal Nation’s address, President Obama announced the creation of the White House Tribal Youth Gathering Steering Committee and his intentions to host the first ever Tribal Youth Summit in 2015.
The newly formed Steering Committee brings together tribal youth, coast to coast, who will assist the White House in the planning of the Tribal Youth Summit. This elite group of 16 youth represent the diversity of Indian country, the hope of tomorrow and the future of every tribe in the United States.
Among this elite group of tribal youth is Jared Massey. Massey is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe and is the Youth Program Coordinator for the United National Indian Tribal Youth organization, as well as a student at Arizona State University.
Massey’s road to the White House Committee is not by luck. Over the year’s Massey has proven himself as an emerging leader among tribal youth. His roots began as a member of the White Mountain Apache Youth Council, where he first got involved with UNITY. Coming from a family of Tribal Leaders, Massey quickly networked with other youth throughout the United States and was elected as the National UNITY Co-President, serving consecutive terms on the Executive Committee. Through his work with UNITY, Massey was introduced to another organization, the National Congress of American Indians, where he was elected as the Co-President of the NCAI Youth Commission. While Massey’s journey to the White House reflects success and growth, there have been several challenges along the way. After being elected to the NCAI Youth Commission, Massey was challenged with balancing an increasingly intense schedule at ASU and attending meetings and resigned his position with NCAI. With integrity, Massey continued his work as an advocate of tribal youth and in 2014 he was once again elected by his peers as Co-President of the NCAI Youth Commission.
“In leadership, we all want success. I had the perspective that leaders succeed and that failure is not an option. When I was first elected to the NCAI Youth Commission and I was unable to fulfill my commitment to the NCAI youth, I felt as though I had failed and that leaders don’t fail. I have some really great mentors in my life including my grandparents Toleedo and Regina Massey, San Carlos Apache Chairman Terry Rambler, White Mountain Apache Councilman Alvin DeClay Sr., Harrisen DeClay of the White Mountain Education Department and my boss Mary Kim Titla. Through the mentorship and encouragement of people like this, I realized that I have to keep my faith in the Lord and that sometimes in order to succeed we must fail. When I reflect on that experience and embrace my new capacity with NCAI, I realize that timing is important and that as a young Apache man, I have grown and used that initial challenge to find strength and motivation,” stated Massey.
As newly appointed member of the White House Tribal Youth Gathering Steering Committee, Massey hopes to provide insight and assistance to White House staff in planning the 2015 Tribal Youth Summit that addresses the many challenges that youth face today on reservations. Coming from the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Massey has experienced first-hand the struggles of reservation life and tribal youth. He stated, “I have seen and personally experienced so many social issues that plague our youth and challenge our youth from breaking so many cycles with suicide, drugs, alcohol, poverty, sexual abuse and domestic violence. I am excited to work with the White House, because this personal testimony and experience is not just part of my past and my roots as a young Apache man, but they are the real-life and day-to-day things that our youth face. We need to use these issues to deliver messages to our youth empowering them to break the cycles, that we can overcome these social issues and that we will survive and create an even better and more promising futures for our children.”
Not only does Massey bring his years of leadership from the national youth level, but he brings to the Committee a fresh approach and living testimony of breaking the cycle. As a college student, Massey believes in pursuing his education, not only for his own future, but also for the future of his people. With hopes of returning to the Fort Apache Indian Reservation one day and contributing his education and experience to tribal government, he is also strong his faith in the Lord, reinforcing that tribal youth whether through traditional beliefs or Christian beliefs must have faith and is also an individual who learns his language and practices his culture.
“The White Mountain Apache Education Department is extremely proud of Jared and his accomplishments over the years. Not only is Jared building national name recognition for himself, he is also elevating recognition of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. This is something we should all be proud of, because its people like Jared who are the future of our community. I have seen Jared grow in his leadership capacities over the years, and it is an honor that as Apache people, we have a voice at the table,” said Harrisen DeClay, Education Director for the White Mountain Apache Tribe.
The White House Tribal Youth Gathering Steering Committee held its first meeting during the National UNITY Mid-Year Conference and over the course of the next few months will be hosting a series of meetings on the planning of the White House’s first ever Tribal Youth Summit.