WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation hosted the third annual Youth and Elder Summit June 28-29 at the Navajo Nation Museum to help bridge the gap between youth and elders.
“Our elders are so valuable to Navajo,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye to the youth during his welcome address at the summit. “They have so much knowledge, so much teaching, so much experience. When grandma or grandpa tell you a story, they paint a picture that will stay with you for the rest of your life. So listen while you are here and ask questions.”
This year’s summit was organized by the Division of Behavioral and Mental Health Services (DBMHS) who worked in collaboration with other Navajo Nation entities and programs. The theme was “Build, Reconnect, Reunite.”
By bringing youth and elders together, the event helps bridge the generational gap, Vice President Jonathan Nez said. He encouraged the youth and elders to turn to each other to build a positive future both for individuals and for the Navajo Nation as a whole.
“The youth have much to learn from the elders, and vice versa,” Nez said. “Our teachings instruct us to respect our elders, to listen to them and learn from their stories. Elders, too, can learn from the experiences of the youth.”
As the Navajo Nation continues its commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of 1868, Nez encouraged everyone to reflect on the past as a way to prepare for the future.
“We need to think of our future 150 years from now,” he said. “Learning about our ancestors who signed the treaty can help us overcome our hardships today. By following their example, we can bounce back from our struggles and move ahead even stronger. We can accomplish anything we put our minds to.”
Event planner Stacey Chester called the 2018 Youth and Elder Summit a success.
“This was a great way to bring together the youth, elders and families,” she said. “The variety of speakers and presentations encouraged healthy life choices and cultural knowledge. DBMHS would like to thank all attendees, partners, and planning team members in making this event special.”
In all, there were 316 registered participants over the two-day summit. Panel discussions included sessions on the Treaty of 1868, the Navajo wellness model, technological awareness and cyberbullying, communication between youth and elders, traditional parenting, the Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council and more.
Information provided by the Office of the President and Vice President