Aspen Institute's Center for Native American Youth & Senator Byron Dorgan Honor Five Inspirational Native American Youth

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the Center for Native American Youth will celebrate its 2nd year anniversary with a number of tribal leaders, members of Congress, and other important dignitaries. In part the reception today and a roundtable conversation tomorrow will celebrate and honor inspirational young Native Americans. The Center's Champions for Change program, inspired by a White House initiative, was created to promote hope in Indian Country by shinning a spotlight on positive, inspirational stories from young American Indians. In 2013, the Center named five Champions for this annual initiative, who will also serve on a youth advisory board.

Center for Native American Youth 2nd Annual Reception – March 4 (5:00 – 7:00 pm)


  • Welcome by President of the National Congress of American Indians Jefferson Keel and introduction by W.K. Kellogg Foundation Program Officer Alice Warner-Mehlhorn, Ph.D.
  • Remarks by Center Chairman & Founder, US Senator Byron Dorgan (ret.)
  • 2012 Program Highlights by Center's Director Erin Bailey and Program Associate Josie Raphaelito.
  • Champions for Change Introduction & Medal Presentation by Senator Byron Dorgan and Nike North America and Nike's N7 Programs General Manager Sam McCracken
  • Comments from Executive Vice President of Policy and Public Programs at the Aspen Institute Elliot Gerson
  • Closing remarks from Center's Youth Board Member Megan Gregory

Where: L'Enfant Plaza Hotel; Monet Rooms 3 & 4

480 L'Enfant Plaza, SW; Washington DC

Champions for Change Panel Discussion – March 5 (10:30 am12:00 pm)


  • Welcome & encouraging message from Senator and Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Opening Remarks and introductions by Senator Byron Dorgan
  • Panel Discussion with Champions for Change moderated by Senator Dorgan:
    • Dahkota Brown (Wilton Miwok) - age: 14; hometown: Jackson, California
    •  Cierra Fields (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) - age: 14; hometown: Fort Gibson, Oklahoma
    • Vance Home Gun (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes) - age: 19; hometown: Arlee, Montana
    • Joaquin Gallegos (Jicarilla Apache Nation & Pueblo of Santa Ana) - age: 22; hometown: Denver, Colorado
    • Sarah Schilling (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians) - age: 18; hometown: Charlevoix, Michigan

Where: Dirksen Senate Office Building; Room 628

(Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE Washington, DC 20002

National Congress of American Indians Address - Champions for Change Discussion – March 5 (3:05 pm3:25 pm)


  • Remarks by Center for Native American Youth chairman Senate Byron Dorgan – we must talk about good news. Introduction of Champion Youth:
    • Dahkota Brown (Wilton Miwok) - age: 14
    • Cierra Fields (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) - age: 14
    • Vance Home Gun (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes) - age: 19
    • Joaquin Gallegos (Jicarilla Apache Nation & Pueblo of Santa Ana) - age: 22
    • Sarah Schilling (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians) - age: 18
  • Remarks from Center's Board Members Megan Gregory and Nike's N7 Programs General Manager Sam McCracken

Where: L'Enfant Plaza Hotel; Grand Ballroom

480 L'Enfant Plaza, SW; Washington DC

Registration: RSVPs for the events should be directed to

For more information about the Center for Native American Youth please visit

The March 4 reception, in conjunction with a National Congress of American Indians' conference, will celebrate the Center's impactful work, which has included over 50 roundtables reaching out to youth of more than 150 tribes across Indian Country, national convenings to collaborate on policy and programming for Native youth, and building an online information resource hub related to improving the lives of Native youth. Several members of Congressare serving as honorary hosts for this event, including Congressman Tom Cole(R-OK), Senator Michael Crapo (R-WY), Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK).

During their time in DC the Champions will also be touring the White House and Capitol as well as meeting with White House staff, federal agency leaders, and many other distinguished individuals. More information about the Champions for Change program is available at

Center for Native American Youth is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. Founded by former US Senator Byron Dorgan in February 2011, the Center is a policy program within the Aspen Institute, headquartered in Washington, DC. The Center works to strengthen and create new connections as well as exchange resources and best practices that address the challenges facing Native youth. Visit the Center's website for a comprehensive list of resources available to young Native Americans, tribes and the general public. For more information, visit

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

SOURCE The Aspen Institute


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