Rising Up the Next Generation of Leaders

July 18, 2023

Where do we find the next generation of leaders? Well, at least for members of the affiliated tribes of the Grand Canyon, aspiring leaders find a home in the Rising Leaders program, part of the Grand Canyon Trust. Through programs like the regional, intertribal, intergenerational, stewardship expedition (RIISE) program, Rising Leaders aims to build and support the next generation of leaders to create a more just and sustainable future for the Colorado Plateau. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Pop’s Truck & RV Center and The Big Idea Makerspace at San Juan College

Learn More...

Grand Canyon Trust - https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/

Rising Leaders Program - https://www.grandcanyontrust.org/rising-leaders

Pop’s Truck& RV Center – https://www.popstruckandrv.com

The Big Idea Makerspace at San Juan College - https://www.sanjuancollege.edu/thebigidea/

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The Four Corners Region is known for its impressive landscapes from the Rocky Mountains to the Grand Canyon, the Colorado Plateau and so much more. The opportunities to get out and explore the area abound, but for many, especially young people from the tribal nations that call this area home, there are so many barriers. Enter the Rising Leaders program, part of the Grand Canyon Trust. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by Pop's Truck and RV Center and The Big Idea Makerspace at San Juan College. I'm Haley Opsal.

I always tell the young people I work with in the Rising Leaders program that they are not only students to us and the knowledge holders or any of their leaders, but they're really teachers to each other. They're teachers to each other and to their peers, their mentors. We all have something to teach at the end of the day, and so that's where and how I really try to empower young people. I want them to recognize that they can carry both. They can be the student and the teacher.

Last year, Benally launched the Grand Canyon Rise Regional Intertribal Intergenerational Stewardship Expedition program. A new way to bring together Native youth from the associated tribes of the Grand Canyon with knowledge holders for a nine day rafting trip down the Grand Canyon.

We began talking about this in partnership with another organization based out of Flagstaff called Grand Canyon Youth. GCY had approached us back in 2019 and we began brainstorming what this project could look like. And at that time, that was the main goal, get indigenous youth on the river. And the more we began to talk about it, the more we began to understand it would be important to have young Native people have the ability to talk to those who carry knowledge within their communities, cultural knowledge within their communities.

The Covid 19 pandemic hit many of the Native American communities hard, especially among the elders and other community knowledge holders. So, one of Benally's goals in creating Rise was to address some of the loss of knowledge and history among younger generations.

So, 2022 came around and things were looking a lot more optimistic than they had for a long time in tribal communities. During this time of like self-isolation, a lot of us began to see that there was a revitalization or just a growing interest among young Native people on social media to connect with their, their cultural teachings. It was very apparent during that time and it was this shift in this current narrative of how our Native youth retelling or telling their own stories. And so, even though it was a really hard time for indigenous people, I think it really sparked this need and desire to connect culturally amongst everybody.

For the first cohort of youth that went on the Rise program last year, the experience provided opportunities to connect with historical and cultural aspects of the Grand Canyon that for many might never have happened, but Rise is not the only program designed to uplift and address issues specific to use of the Grand Canyon Affiliate Tribes.

Another key program that we run every single year is a program called Leadershift and Leadershift is a 10 day experiential education program that takes place across Northern Arizona. And I honestly think this is like our star program because it's designed to work with and uplift indigenous community leaders.

The Rising Leaders program works closely with the indigenous youths of the Colorado Plateau and schools, including Dine College, Northern Arizona University and Fort Lewis College to help grow the next generation of community leaders. Applications for this year's Rise in Leadership programs have closed, but follow the Grand Canyon Trust for more information about these experiences and other opportunities. Learn more about this and other stories at farmingtonlocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition of Local News Network. I'm Haley Opsal.


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