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Native youth report: ‘Decrease barriers, increase opportunities’

Chelysa Owens-Cyr’s (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux/Pasqua First Nations Plains Cree/Saultea) artwork was chosen for the cover of the annual CNAY report. CNAY said the 23-year-old’s piece represents her interpretation of “identity and being centered.” (Courtesy CNAY)

The Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., recently released its annual “State of Native Youth” report titled “Center Us” – an 80-page document that “celebrates and honors Native youth and the issues they care about.”

“‘Center Us’ is a reminder to our relatives, partners and stakeholders to value the voices of Native American youth,” Nikki Santos (Coeur d’Alene Tribe), CNAY executive director, said in a Dec. 6, 2022, news release. “In order to create a more free, just, and equitable society, we must include Native youth – they deserve to be centered.”

The 2022 report features five main sections: “Indigenous Framework,” “Transforming Systems and Redefining Hope,” “Our Land, Our Connections,” “Social Media and Technology,” and “Arts and Society.” There are several subcategories within each section.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Cheyenne Kippenberger is CNAY’s communications coordinator. She coauthored the section on social media and technology with Lily Painter (Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska).

“[The report is] a resource and roadmap to help decrease barriers and increase opportunities for Native youth,” Kippenberger said in the release.

Broad topics covered in the report include climate change, systems that undermine Native sovereignty, and the use of media, technology and art to empower Native youth.

“Native youth are leading the way in the preservation of culture and advancing their communities,” the report said in its conclusion.

The full report can be accessed here, or by visiting Questions can be directed to