National Indian Gaming Association's Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. gave the opening address last week at the My Brother's Keeper Kickoff in Indian Country in Oneida, WI. President Obama launched the My Brother's Keeper initiative earlier this year and Oneida Business Committee Councilman Brandon Stevens was chosen to lend his voice to represent Indian Country. The My Brother's Keeper initiative encourages expanding opportunities for young men and women by utilizing early education, mentorship and workforce introductions.
Councilman Brandon Stevens had the honor and privilege to welcome Michael Smith, Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director of Cabinet Affairs for My Brother's Keeper at the White House to the Oneida reservation. As an early acceptor of the My Brother's Keeper challenge, Oneida was chosen to host the first My Brother's Keeper Kickoff event in Indian Country and receive a video message from President Obama. Smith's eagerness was evident in his interaction with the native youth and Oneida Council. It is his commitment along with Councilman Brandon Stevens and others that is going to keep My Brother's Keeper alive in Indian Country.
Chairman Stevens addressed the crowd and spoke of the role models in his life that helped to turn a substandard education into one that would help him help others. He went further to recognize the veterans and other hometown heroes who utilized their training and life experiences to be effective leaders and mentors in our communities.
Chairman Stevens went on to mention that while his son, Councilman Stevens had his share of challenges as a young man and had a rocky start in his education, he went on to earn an associates and bachelors degree from tribal colleges and completed an MBA. Today he utilizes his life experiences and education to help Native American youth and family.
Focusing on the youth nationwide, the My Brother's Keeper initiative provides that much needed opportunity to empower our future leaders. This effort needs the support of many. NIGA Chairman Stevens concluded by stating, "We can start today by looking and reaching out to our member tribes to give momentum to this initiative in Indian Country."