Cherokee Youth Council has a busy summer

by Sep 6, 2019COMMUNITY sgadugi

CYC members are shown, left to right, ready to sing the Cherokee morning song at the UNITY Conference – back row: Ethan Clapsaddle, Brenn Si Jackson, Hope Long, Alexis Smith, Kaelin Jones; front row: Zoe Walkingstick, Brayden Taylor, Lucian Davis, Mahala Bird, and RJ Radford. (Photos courtesy of Cherokee Youth Council)


The Cherokee Youth Council (CYC) had a busy summer.  The members were involved in several activities and events.  Two of the major highlights for the members this summer were the leadership development opportunities through the UNITY National Conference which was held in Kissimmee, Fla. this year and the domestic cultural exchange opportunity in Peach Springs, Ariz. with the Hualapai tribe.

At this year’s UNITY National Conference, 10 of the CYC members were able to hear from motivational speakers, participate in youth empowerment workshops, and engage with Indigenous youth from across the world.  There were approximately 2,500 participants at this year’s conference.   One of the most talked about workshops from the conference was called, “What is Your Legacy?”

CYC member Brayden Taylor said, “I chose this workshop to better understand what it meant to truly leave a legacy for my tribe and community.  My big takeaways from the workshop were the value of prayer, the words we use to define our situations, the importance of time and making the most of it for ourselves and for our tribe, and the people you surround yourself with will help build or destroy your legacy.”

CYC members are shown, left to right, overlooking the Grand Canyon Left to Right: Kyree Bigwitch, Amaya Hicks, Prairie Toineeta, Abigail Taylor, Ethan Clapsaddle, Tanis Esquivel, Tanin Esquivel, Nate Crowe, and Tsisqua Hill.

The annual CYC Domestic Cultural Exchange took the group to the Hualapai Nation in Peach Springs.  The Hualapai Reservation borders the western rim of the Grand Canyon.  They have a very small, close-knit community with approximately 2,500 members.  The group was able to tour Peach Springs, visit the Skywalk at Grand Canyon West, raft down the Colorado River at the base of the Grand Canyon, and ride helicopters back out to the rim when we were finished.  They also engaged with the Hualapai Youth Council at their Cultural Center where they learned about the issues impacting the youth in their community and shared things from our community.

The group concluded the visit by sharing some of Cherokee social dances, and they were able to share some of their Bird Song dances.

CYC members are shown, left to right, at a waterfall in the Grand Canyon – Prairie Toineeta, Abigail Taylor, Kyree Bigwitch, Amaya Hicks, Nate Crowe, Tanis Esquivel, Tsisqua Hill, Tanin Esquivel, and Ethan Clapsaddle.

When asked about her experiences on this year’s Cultural Exchange, CYC member Amaya Hicks said, “I am very thankful to be blessed with this opportunity.  We are fortunate as a tribe to have the resources we do and to be able to experience these things through our Youth Council.  Visiting Peach Springs and learning about the Hualapai Nation and experiencing their community and the Grand Canyon was an amazing experience which I will never forget.”

The Cherokee Youth Council will be opening up recruitment for new members within the next couple of weeks.  Applications will be available at the office, by email request, and in the school offices.  The CYC is a culturally-based youth leadership program focused on youth empowerment, strengthening cultural identity, and community service.  For more information about the CYC contact Ethan Clapsaddle or 359-5543.  The Cherokee Youth Council is a program under The Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute, a department of the Cherokee Boys Club and is funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

– Cherokee Youth Council release