WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Apr. 30, Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez signed legislation that changes the youth council status from ad-hoc to an advisory committee for all branches of government.
Begaye said that he congratulated the youth for their persistence to ensure the legislation was brought to the table to be signed into law.
“I am excited to be a part of this historic moment in Navajo Nation history,” Begaye said. “We know that our youth is the future and with this piece of legislation they will provide input at all levels of government and policy.”
The Begaye-Nez administration has said that youth are a critical priority for it and one of the reason the youth council was formed.
Nez congratulated the youth, too.
“Our youth and elders pillar is steadily moving forward,” he said. “We also look forward to seeing more youth participation in our Navajo Nation government to ensure positive change is made.”
Before the signing, Begaye and Nez imparted knowledge to the youth council members stressing the importance of establishing priorities for the youth council and following through with its projects.
The Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council will have 12 members. Two members will be appointed from each of the five agencies and two appointed at large. The Youth Advisory Council members need to be 14-24 years old.
“Thank you to our supporters, mentors and advocates for helping us to become tall corn stalks,” said Navajo Nation ad-hoc Youth Advisory Council President Jacquelyn Johnson. “The fruition of the tádídíín will be used to impact our Navajo Nation government for years to come. The issues that affect us, as youth is universal. We are setting the example and we have a lot of work to accomplish in the coming years.”
Marlon Murphy, ad-hoc Youth Advisory Council vice president, said the legislation is a stepping stone for the youth of the Navajo Nation.
“Great ideas will come from this youth council, thank you for helping us,” Murphy said.
Other youth council members echoed those remarks.
“Thank you to everyone who helped to support us. We came a long way and thank you,” said Cali Chee, Central Agency Youth representative.
Virlencia Begay, Fort Defiance Agency’s youth representative, thanked the president and vice president for bringing a cool group of people together.
“This took a lot of teamwork and coordination to complete this,” Begay said. “I’m thankful and humble to be sitting beside you all. This is where the real work starts to ensure we are moving forward 50 years from now.”
Begay and Nez expressed their appreciation to Delegate Amber Crotty, Delegate Jonathan Hale, Executive Staff Assistant Yvonne Kee-Billison, James Davis, Theresa Gavin, and Acting Chief Justice Allen Sloan.
“We will define a new tomorrow for our people, equipped with our new young leaders, teachings by the elders and love from others,” Begaye said. “Together we can change government to be more receptive to the youth and young people of the Navajo Nation.”