WHITERIVER, AZ – The White Mountain Apache Tribe Education Department hosted the 3rd Annual White Mountain Apache Youth Conference July 11-15 at Theodore Roosevelt School.
The four-day conference brought more than 700 Apache youth, ages 8 thru 18, together to address four (4) priority pillars of the White Mountain Apache including Apache Identity, Youth Leadership, Success Through Education and Healthy Lifestyles.
The Conference structure was consistent throughout the week, with each day beginning with registration and breakfast that lead into a series of three (3) general assemblies throughout the day. General assemblies were led by Dr. Pearl Yellowman, Antoine Edwards and Butchie Eastman. Yellowman is a member of the Navajo Nation and facilitates conferences and events throughout the United States for youth and Tribal Leaders. Edwards and Eastman are Native Youth celebrities who work in tribal communities promoting healthy lifestyles and pride in tribal culture and identity.
Between general assemblies, youth attended each of t
he four (4) workshops on Apache Identity,
Youth Leadership, Success Through Education and Healthy Lifestyles.
Apache Identity was facilitated by WMAT tribal member and educator Denise Lupe, who was joined by Edwards and Eastman. The workshop provided youth with a history of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, encouragement of learning the Apache language and language basics, history of Apache clans and promotion of pride in being White Mountain Apache.
Youth Leadership was facilitated by the Morning Star Youth Council, an urban Native youth group from the metro-Phoenix area who have gained recognition for their leadership and ability to work with other youth groups on facilitating youth leadership events and activities. The workshop focused on encouraging Apache youth to recognize their leadership ability and to take initiative in becoming community leaders within the home, schools, sports and community activities.
Success Through Education was facilitated by the WMAT Education Department’s Higher Education Coordinator Derrick Leslie who hosted several members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe who have received their higher education degrees and returned home to work and contribute to the tribal community. Presenters included: Marco Burnette, Rick DiValentino, Jackie Alchesay, Kearny Bonito, Misty Cook-Goseyun, Marlinda Clendon, KeAloha Alo Douma, Kimberly Cromwell, Michelle Holden, Gwendena Gatewood, Sanjiv Thompson, Rachel Endfield, and Dawnafe Whitesinger. The workshop focused on resources for scholarships, the higher education experience, the power of higher education and the pride in returning to the White Mountain Apache community and contribute to the future of the Tribe.
Healthy Lifestyles was facilitated by Rainbow Treatment Center and Life is Precious Team of the Apache Behavioral Health Services. The workshop focused on healthy living, healthy choices and decisions, youth suicide prevention, drug and alcohol prevention and keeping the community and each other safe.
Harrisen DeClay, Education Director for White Mountain Apache said, “I want to thank the volunteers and presenters who assisted with this Conference. We have limited resources and I am proud that as a Tribe and community, each year we are able to come together and as a group make this conference happen. As an Education Department, we recognize that there are many elements that contribute to the success of our Apache youth and their education. We are confident that we were able to approach these diverse elements and encourage our youth.”
The final day of the Conference featured the annual Back to School Bash. Students received back to school supplies, backpacks, and lunch and were provided with entertainment by Butch and Antoine, DJ NDN, Rez Roots, Country Image, Lady Krow, GENO, Miss Indian Arizona, Miss White Mountain Apache and tribal royalty.
The White Mountain Apache Education Department would like to thank all of the volunteers, tribal programs and departments and sponsorsof the 3rd Annual White Mountain Apache Youth Conference:
Apache Behavioral Health Services, Apache Diabetes Wellness Center, Cellular One, Child Care Program, Child Find Program, Cibecue District 1 Office, Dr. McAdams of Miles Eye Center, Ft. Apache Hot Shots, Hon Dah Casino, Navajo County Supervisor’s Office, Ndee Bii Fitness Center, Rainbow Treatment Center, Sunrise Ski Resort, Theodore Roosevelt School, Tribal Treasurer, Wells Fargo Bank, WMAT Boys & Girls Club, WMAT CHR, WMAT Tribal Governing Body.