Author Wambli Gleska Quintana is pictured above, at left, with fellow CRYP Youth Advisory Council member Nation Cowins.

Young people are a significant demographic within the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. In fact, more than 50 percent of the population is under the age of 18. Despite this fact, the youth — with their own unique perspectives and needs — are not being heard in various aspects of our tribal community, including education, substance abuse, and mental health.

This lack of representation and inclusion results in a disconnect between young people and decision-makers, leading to ineffective solutions that do not address their concerns and aspirations. As a consequence, many youth feel excluded, marginalized, and disengaged, leading to negative outcomes such as low civic participation, social isolation, and mental health problems. With that being said, CRYP has already implemented its very own Youth Advisory Council to help address these issues within its organization.

I feel that this idea should be implemented at the tribal level. That is why we call upon the CRST Tribal Council to acknowledge the pressing need to amplify youth voices, acknowledge their contributions, and involve them in meaningful ways in the decision-making processes that affect their lives and the future of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

A youth advisory council would be an effective solution for ensuring that youth voices are heard for several reasons.

Representation: A youth advisory council would provide a platform for young people to voice their concerns, opinions, and ideas to decision-makers. This council would be composed of youth representatives from diverse backgrounds and experiences, ensuring that a range of perspectives are taken into consideration.

Meaningful Engagement: By involving young people in the decision-making process, decision-makers can better understand the impact of policies on youth and make more informed decisions that address their needs and aspirations.

Empowerment: A youth advisory council can empower young people by giving them a sense of ownership and agency in shaping the policies that affect their lives. This can lead to increased civic engagement and a greater sense of community involvement.

Capacity Building: By participating in a youth advisory council, young people can develop important skills such as leadership, communication, and critical thinking, which can be applied in various areas of their lives.

Sustainable Impact: A youth advisory council can help to create sustainable change by ensuring that the voices of young people are heard and their ideas are taken into consideration in the decision-making process. This can lead to policies and programs that better meet the needs of youth and contribute to their long-term success.