Sacramento, California – November 1, 2022 – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Youth Commission hosted its annual NCAI Youth Luncheon today as part of the 79th Annual NCAI Convention and Marketplace in Sacramento, California.
Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr., joined the Youth Commission in presenting the NCAI Youth Commission honorees.
Youth recipients included Jonathan Arakawa, a Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe citizen. Mr. Arakawa is the Co-Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission and Secretary and Northwest Regional Representative to the National UNITY Council Executive Committee.
Sydney Lynn Matheson is the NCAI Youth Commission Co-Vice President at the National Congress of American Indians, Confederated Tribes of Colville. She will graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice from Wenatchee Valley College in Wenatchee, Washington. Sydney is currently working as a Certified Nursing Assistant and is also an Emergency Medical Technician.
Sharon Bassette is an enrolled member of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska.
Member of the bear clan & descendant of the water spirit clan. She is a recent graduate of Morningside University. Sharon also received her B.A. in political science with a pre-law emphasis and minors in legal studies and psychology.
The final recipient was Christian Penn, from the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. Christian is going to college to become a film editor.
The NCAI Youth Commission established the Youth leadership recognition in honor of Chairman Sevens, a long-time youth advocate who was instrumental in creating the NCAI Youth Commission when he served as NCAI’s first Vice President in the 1990s.
Stevens said, “When we envisioned creating Youth Commission at NCAI, we focused on energizing our young Native leaders to be visible, not pushed aside. We wanted to empower these young people to lead, not as future leaders but as today’s leaders.” He added, “It has been an honor to come together and present this award for more than 20 years. The greatest reward is seeing so many honored become prominent community leaders. I am proud that they have become successful doctors, lawyers, business professionals, and in many cases, experts in the Indian Gaming industry that the IGA serves.”
The NCAI Youth Commission was established to unite and develop the youth by sharing their concerns and interests and enhancing the spiritual, mental, physical, and emotional well-being of tribal youth for a better Native America. It is designed specifically for college and high school students ages 16-23 interested in political science, tribal government, and Native American legislative and governmental affairs.