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Youth conferences aim to give kids tools


The Ashinéé Shiyázhí Youth Conference will take place from July 10 -21 in 10 chapters — five in Arizona and five in New Mexico — and will be hosted by the Diné Relief Initiative.

The conferences are aimed at bringing Diné youth together to build working relationships with one another and preserve the Diné language, culture and tradition.

They are also aimed at bringing awareness of drug abuse, substance abuse, suicide, bullying, gang violence and “stranger danger.” The youth conference was inspired by the late Ashlynn Mike of Shiprock.

Gjermundson Yazzie, conference organizer, said the conference workshops will be “peer-to-peer, youth-to-youth.”

He hopes youth can come together to discuss issues in their communities, voice their opinions on certain issues and work together to provide a safe environment in their communities.
There will also be a community cookout at each chapter provided by DRI.

Each workshop will be unique as different topics will be discussed throughout each chapter and will be conducted by professional mentors who are working with DRI, according to Yazzie.

Workshops will include weaving, butchering, beading, expression through hip-hop, positive graffiti art, fire safety, safe sex education, healthy eating and language and culture preservation.

“They are the future. The kids need to know they are important,” said Yazzie.

The conferences will also offer live entertainment varying at each chapter with performers like Nataani Means, Lyla June, Athenia Claw, Tito Hoover, Running With Arrows and J-Styles.

DRI is still looking for anyone with resources who are willing to provide knowledge and information at a conference in a chapter nearest to them.

“Anybody with information, an agenda or a workshop can contact us,” said Carlesia Tully, event organizer of DRI.

The chapters will include:

• New Mexico: Tohajilee, Alamo, Crownpoint, Shiprock and Red Rock.
• Arizona: Dilkon, Rock Point, Sawmill, Ganado and Many Farms.

Yazzie is the founder of the Diné Relief Initiative, a nonprofit grassroots organization that began in 2015 and is dedicated to providing indigenous relief for people in need.

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