Native Youth to Ask White House for Help in Addressing Substance Abuse
San Diego, Ca – July 19, 2010. In an unprecedented move of solidarity, Native youth representing several tribal nations are calling upon the White House to help them address alcohol, drug and other substance abuse issues facing them. More than 1200 youth representing youth councils across 35 States unanimously passed a resolution at the 2010 National UNITY Conference in San Diego, California.Identified as the number one issue facing Native youth, conference participants say alcohol, drug and substance abuse is destroying the lives of individuals, families, and entire communities.
According to Elisa Llamas of the Arizona Tohono O’odham Nation, “Alcohol and other substance abuse is a really huge problem affecting all tribes.”
Native youth say they are well aware of the negative health, economic and social conditions resulting from the abuse of alcohol, drugs and other substances.
“It is about time people realize the intensity of our problem,” says Llamas who agrees there is a direct correlation between alcohol, drug and substance abuse to incidents of violence, teen pregnancy, educational dropout rates, suicide, loss of culture, and low self esteem.
“I don’t like drugs. The resolution is good because I think it will help people to realize how harmful alcohol and drugs are to our lives,” says Ricky Corella of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona.
The leadership of the National UNITY Council is encouraging Native youth to take a stand by pledging sobriety and to reach out to other youth in a movement to help build strong and healthy tribal communities. They also want the White House Drug Czar to meet with them so that they can plan concrete ways to help Native youth address the issues of alcohol and drugs in a more comprehensive level across tribal communities.
Several youth said they plan to travel to Washington DC to present what they feel is the strongest unified stance against alcohol, drug and substance abuse and they want the White House to take their concerns seriously. The resolution is expected to be presented to the White House Drug Czar later this fall.
View and download the 2010 Resolution that was passed by the National UNITY Council during the recent National UNITY Conference via the link that appears at the end of this story.
The United Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (“UNITY”) is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among American Indian and Alaska Native Youth. Incorporated in 1976, UNITY is committed to a mission of fostering the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of Native youth and helping build a strong, unified, and self reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. The heart of UNITY is its affiliated youth councils, which are sponsored by Tribes, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges, and urban organizations; and in order to provide a mechanism through which representatives of such youth councils could interact, share common concerns and issues, and have a collective voice, the National UNITY Council was developed and implemented in 1992. The National UNITY Council is comprised of American Indian and Alaska Native youth, ages 15 to 24, who provide a collective voice and represent members of more than 150 UNITY affiliated youth councils in 35 states as well as individual youth who are not members of youth councils.