Four students from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians participated in a Mock USET Council on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the USET Impact Week in Washington, DC. The Mock Council was held as part of the Close Up Foundation program which is helping provide youth from the USET Tribal Nations to gain a perspective of USET, Congressional, and local tribal functions and purpose. Tagan Crowe, of the Big Y Community, and Callie Phillips, of the Yellowhill Community, served as the EBCI’s youth voting members and Elle Bradley and Darren Swayney, both of the Wolftown Community, helped debate issues with Crowe and Phillips.
“I thought that this was a great opportunity,” said Bradley. “It allowed us to see how government really works. It also really opened all of us up to how other tribes and cultures are and work. We made a lot of friends from other tribes and se who they live and think too. It is an opportunity that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Some of the issues debated included: education, Violence Against Women Act reauthorization, cultural and heritage preservation, and gaming rights.
More than 80 students from 14 of the USET member tribal nations participated in the Close Up Foundation program.