The Navajo Nation appointed 14 young people, ranging from ages 14 to 24, to make up the first-ever Navajo Nation Youth Advisory Council (NNYAC) on February 11. Both representatives for the Northern Agency, Nick Tsipai and Reniah Manygoats, are students of Central Consolidated School District (CCSD). Tsipai is a senior at Newcomb High School and Manygoats is an 8th grader at Tsé Bit’Ai’ Middle School.
“I am so proud of Nick and Reniah for representing all the youth of the northern agency on this prestigious committee,” Dr. Colleen W. Bowman, superintendent of CCSD, said. “The students of our district are doing wonderful things every day and these two are brilliant examples of that fact. They are leaders in their schools and now they are leaders of the entire Navajo Nation.”
Both Tsipai and Manygoats attended their first meeting of the council which included introductions and informal assignments.
“You are all leaders,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said during a reception after the appointments were approved. “You are the voice of the Navajo Nation when it comes to youth not only at the local level but at the state and national level, too. Take care of yourselves, congratulations and God bless each one of you.”
The NNYAC was designed to give youth a platform to voice their concerns, call awareness to issues they want to confront and engage with the leaders and decision-makers of the Navajo Nation. The responsibilities of the council members, according to the legislation, is to provide policy recommendations, identify issues affecting Navajo youth, and recommend amendments to legislation and plans of operation.
Tsipai hopes to address issues of bully prevention and suicide prevention. The reasons are near to his heart.
“I’ve lost a personal friend to suicide,” Tsipai said. “This has to come to a stop. I want to do what I can to prevent suicide here at Newcomb High School and anywhere else.”
Tsipai was influenced by his family to seek a seat on the council.
“My brothers and sister and parents have made me stronger through this process,” Tsipai said. “They taught me to be a good person and to represent myself well. They wanted me to apply and accomplish this.”
Manygoats wishes to focus on some of the same issues that youth face like depression and bullying.
“I see kids come to school with cuts or sad and depressed and I want them to be happy,” Manygoats said. “I want them to be able to go anywhere, do anything. Leave our communities and learn but come back to help the community.”
Manygoats, one of the youngest members of the council at just 15, hopes she can offer students kindness to get through their tough times.
“I wonder, ‘How can I help?’” Manygoats said. “And I think I can just by asking them every day, ‘Are you OK?’ and be there for others when they need it.”