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NUC Vice President Watson Whitford attends Indigenous Youth Roundtable with Secretary Deb Haaland


New York City, NY – A week before Earth Day, Vice President and Rocky Mountain Area Representative Watson Whitford was invited to sit at a round table discussion with the United States Secretary Deb Haaland in New York City, NY to speak about climate change and its effects on tribal communities. Representative Whitford joined other youth from across the world. The youth represented countries such as: Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Panama. The roundtable discussion was held at the US Mission to the United Nations Building in New York City on the morning of April 15th, 2024. Each invited youth had time to share about issues they are facing in their respective communities and hopes for solutions. Representative Whitford shared about topics that were important to his Chippewa Cree and Navajo communities. These topics included: the connection between language and land, important plants that face harm from climate change, and a risk of losing cultural practices if climate change continues. “It was a very nerve-racking experience to be sitting there with one of the highest officials in the United States. I did my best to represent my family, community, Indigenous people, and myself while discussing these topics. I had a difficult time not getting emotional while speaking and listening to other youth” Representative Whitford said. Representative Whitford would like Indigenous youth across the world to know that there is still hope to overcome climate change challenges. He hopes to continue working and speaking on behalf of Indigenous communities and Mother Earth. Representative Whitford would also like to encourage other youth to continue the work they are doing. He wants everyone to know that this work is very important and is excited to work with other youth. Lastly, Representative Whitford shared this “If we can intertwine our Indigenous teachings of Mother Earth and respect with today’s technology and Western education, then it can become very possible that we will overcome climate change. Our ancestors knew we would be able to find solutions, that is why we still have our languages, cultures, stories, and songs today. Let’s do this work together to make a beautiful world for our descendants as our ancestors did for us.” Representative Whitford would like to thank UNITY and the Department of Interior for this opportunity and hope there will be more like it in the near future.