Youth conference promotes leadership, confidence

Motivational speaker Howard Rainer addresses a group of students in the Ignacio High School gym on Friday, Dec. 6.
Mary Guenther/SU Education Dept.

Motivational speaker and Taos Pueblo member Howard Rainer visited Ignacio Dec. 6 and 7 to speak to local students about leadership in a Native American setting.

Rainer met with 13 young Southern Ute tribal members at the Ignacio High and Ignacio Middle schools Friday, Dec. 6, and with community educators later that evening. The following day, another 25 tribal members and descendants met at the Sky Ute Casino Resort for a leadership conference hosted by the Southern Ute Education Department.

Rainer addressed both leadership principles, including learning from one’s ancestors, and helpful tips, such as the importance of maintaining eye contact.

In thank-you letters sent to the Southern Ute Tribal Council following the event, many participants said they learned skills they’ll put to use immediately.

“Thank you for giving us this conference, letting us young natives have a chance to learn from a great leader,” wrote Keifer Goodtracks-Alires. “Mr. Rainer taught us the simplest details in our lives can be used to make each and every one of us a better person, from the firmness of a handshake to being a person who is willing to stand out of the crowd.”

Jack Frost III said the confidence-building techniques Rainer taught would help him develop lifelong skills.

“Some of the things I have learned are to show confidence when speaking and to make eye contact,” he wrote. “We should do this more often.”

Roshae Weaver said the conference empowered her to face future challenges.

“He showed me how to be a leader and to overcome obstacles in life. I truly learned a lot,” she wrote.

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