Guest Column: Wake the sleeping giant

By Virlencia Begay, Secretary/Treasurer and Fort Defiance Agency Representative; Tristian Black, Central Agency Representative; and Christian Brown, Western Agency Representative
Navajo Nation Ad-Hoc Youth Council

Have you ever wondered what the Navajo Nation could be like in the future, if our youth were given a more influential role in drafting or enacting legislation?

Right now, the youth voice is missing across many areas within the Navajo Nation government. The time is now to wake the sleeping giant and embrace the voice of our Navajo youth in government processes to forge the nation with their vision.

We, the Ad-Hoc Navajo Nation Youth Council, are requesting your support to pass legislation No. 0019-17, which will be considered during the spring session of the Navajo Nation Council next week. This legislation will change the youth council from an ad hoc function to an advisory council for the three branches of government.

This legislation to change the Ad-Hoc Youth Council to an advisory council differs fundamentally from other regional youth councils that exist on the Navajo Nation. Through the enactment of this legislation, the Navajo Nation Youth Council will be able to provide input to youth related issues that are currently occurring on the nation.

The United Nations defines youth as individuals that fall between the ages of 15 and 24. The median age of the Navajo was 27.4 years of age in 2013. A majority of the Navajo Nation population are those in the youth age range.
Many college students from across the Navajo Nation have mentioned that there are limited opportunities for the youth and young people on the reservation.

Many of those under the age of 18, don’t have any voice or influence in our government. The inability to vote in elections and provide input into policies that impact youth arenÕt taken into account.

Many of our tribal members between ages 22 to 24 move to metropolitan areas to establish themselves which is comparatively easier than establishing themselves on the Navajo Nation.

The Ad-Hoc Youth Council, which was a three-branch agreement, is the seed that was planted to form the Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council. By utilizing the Navajo philosophy of Nits‡h‡kees (thinking), NahatÕ‡ (planning), Iin‡ (implementation), and Siihasin (hope), as guiding principles.

When the cornstalk is fully developed, the t‡didiin (corn pollen) is the blessing of the newly formed Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council.

Having equal representation across the Navajo Nation with membership as one male and one female that will serve the advisory council for two-year terms. The water that will assist in growing the corn is the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of Navajo Nation government.

Having their support and guidance will determine the level of influence on the advisory council’s recommendations to policies on the Navajo Nation for the youth population.

We, the Navajo Nation Ad-Hoc Youth Council, are now asking the public to talk to your council delegates and stress the importance of making youth a priority on the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation Council has currently opened the floor for public comments about the legislation. Comments in support of legislation No. 0019-17 may be submitted by email at

We, the Navajo Nation Ad-Hoc Youth Council, want to aid our government officials and contribute in the process to make the Navajo Nation a better place for all of our relatives and people. We are asking for your support to create the Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council so our Navajo Nation youth willÊforever have a voice in tribal government operations and services.

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Categories: Guest Essay