On the hot summer day of July 31, 2012, approximately 200 youth, tribal educators and sponsors from seven North Central Oklahoma tribes gathered at the Northern Oklahoma College (N.O.C) Tonkawa campus for “Motivation on the Rezervation,” the second annual Native American Youth Leadership Day. This event is held during the summer to coincide with the tribes’ summer youth work programs.
Wearing color-coded T-shirts indicating their tribal affiliations, young people from the Kaw, Osage, Pawnee, Iowa, Otoe-Missouria, Ponca and Tonkawa tribes spent the day learning tips for developing Native pride and leadership as they enjoyed various games and activities. A scavenger hunt was designed to acquaint the youth with NOC. This activity sent teams on a quest to find and photograph various places on the campus.
Dynamic work shop sessions by Chance Rush, founder of Cloudboy Consultants, LLC of Tulsa, along with hip hop recording artist and disc jockey Emcee One (Marcus Anthony Guinn), of Osage heritage, and activist Chief Swagg (Jeffrey Duarte), an Aquinnah Wampanoag from Aquinnah, Mass., gave the attendees insights on important issues such as: bullying and conflict resolution; communication and presentation; issues and relationships and cultural outlook. Lindsey Miner and Samantha Ephgrave of the Noble County OSU Extension Service held a workshop for seventh through ninth graders, “Success: There’s an app for that”. Karen Howe, Kaw Nation education director, teamed with NOC staff to present college preparation information to the tenth through twelfth grade students.
Rush, an Otoe descendant, urged his listeners to “Get outside your comfort zone. People treat you on how you present yourself and how you act,” he said. The future tribal leaders were advised that good communication skills are essential and to take advantage of the opportunity to present themselves on Twitter and Facebook, keeping in mind that college admission staff and employers look at the posts.
Emcee One invited the young people to list items that could influence their beliefs. They learned that incorrect data in the belief system could lead to poor life choices. “It all hinges on whether you have a lie or truth in your belief system,” he said. “You have to untie a lie with truth. Truth is fair. It can’t be bribed or bartered.” He urged them to become truth chasers and to chart their lives by the truth.
Noting that most substance abuse and suicide result from broken relationships, Emcee One changed the word “Intimacy” to “Into me see,” meaning that persons must understand themselves and each other before making a commitment. They must treat each other with respect. “Commitment has to be balanced with ‘into me see’,” he said. “There is no right to intimacy without commitment.”
The event concluded with games and a hip hop showcase conducted by Chief Swagg and Emcee One. Gina Conneywerdy, NOC Native American counselor, and education directors of the seven tribes involved coordinated the leadership day. Virginia Combrink, M.Ed, director of the Ponca Tribal MSPI Oo-kee-he (Able to Achieve) Program, provided backpacks for each participant. Garland Kent, Jr. and Elsie Whitehorn designed the custom T-shirts.