Developing new Native American leaders

USA Today writes about groups that are working to development new American Indian leaders.

For example, former Navajo Nation president Peterson Zah, who is a special adviser for Indian affairs at Arizona State University, has spent the past 16 years trying to develop Native American youth leaders.

Zah’s concerns are shared by many Native American leaders who see a breakdown in Indian country leadership at a time when the 565 federally recognized tribes of the United States are pressing for greater sovereignty and control over their reservations and all events and persons found there.

Dozens of American Indian organizations and tribes are pressing to cultivate youth leadership skills by combining cultural heritage, public service, personal responsibility, and civic action.

Peggy Flanagan, a citizen of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe in Minnesota and director of the Native American Leadership Program in St. Paul, says her message to young Indians is simple: Become active in the community and avoid temptations to wallow in victimization.

“Civic involvement is a fertile earth from which leadership grows,” Flanagan says. “But also know who you are — your family, your culture, your values, goals and purpose. You can’t look forward unless you know where you came from.”

Pershlie Ami, a Hopi from northern Arizona who founded Native Leadership Pathways in Phoenix, also warns against resentment toward whites, urging students to absorb the good from modern society and eschew the bad.

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