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Tribal Council Welcomes Lummi Youth

Emerging community change projects at Lummi highlight

By Tami Chock

Photo courtesy of Tami Chock.
Sam Tso, Coreen LaClair and Carmen Bland from Lummi.
At the Lummi CEDAR Project, youth are encouraged to voice and express themselves in healthy ways about the reality of their everyday lives. Learning directly from them and with them inspires shared understanding and community healing. Within Organized Generations, a new way of sharing the youth voice while affirming their tribal identity has taken hold through digital storytelling (DST), and it is raising youth issues to a new level in the context of tribal decision-making. Organized Generations is the Lummi name for KLCC, a name that embodies the Lummi approach to community healing using Lummi Schelangen—traditions, knowledge, power and identity.

At an August 2006 fellows meeting, Clarissa Young, an elder fellow, brought an announcement for the youth. The Lummi General Council, consisting of the voting membership of the Lummi Tribe, had invited two to three youth representatives from the Lummi CEDAR Project to be present at General Council meetings. In the Lummi culture, an invitation to participate is not taken lightly, and the youth quickly began to organize. On the following Saturday afternoon, seven youth fellows met to decide how they could best represent the youth voice and present their perspective and concerns to the General Council. To prepare for the October General Council meeting, the youth will use DST to capture the collective youth voice on the reservation. Coreen LaClair, Kristy Oldham and Talia London will employ the skills learned from a recent DST workshop at KLCC Session I site Llano Grande Center for Research and Development in Edcouch, Texas. Lummi fellows Will Cadiente and Gary Julius and youth coach Sam Tso will conduct interviews to add to the story. “We are honored to have been invited to the table and we feel we have much to contribute,” says Carmen Bland, the youth fellow who is organizing the group. “We also know that the adults and elders are supporting us.”

The youth plan to present their digital story at the General Council meeting and on Lummi Nation News, a local community TV cable channel. They hope to inspire ideas and dialogue by airing it at the community and tribal decision-making levels. The youth fellows have selected two representatives from among themselves, but are committed to attending all meetings supporting one another.

Elder fellow and activist Juanita Jefferson shared a vision for youth at a recent fellows meeting. “The youth must realize the amount of power they hold. At 18 years old, you are almost old enough to run for Council. Youth have the advantage of outnumbering adults in the tribe and should use their power to make constructive change,” she says.

It is not surprising that the fellows are living into their natural roles with elders gently encouraging and supporting youth to be heard. Youth are now taking on the challenge of standing up to be recognized as young tribal leaders. Valuing intergenerational partnerships at Lummi is making a mark as a new pathway is tread by youth who are ready to influence tribal decisions and a new generation of leaders.

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