Students from the three Ute tribes, and other local Native youth, convened at Ignacio High School to participate in a conference that was focused on the youth and their futures.
The 2016 Jimmy Newton Jr. Youth Leadership Conference was held Wednesday, July 20 and consisted of breakout sessions and motivational speakers that all focused on this year’s theme, “Honoring the Past for our Future”.
The conference has been held in remembrance of the late Southern Ute Tribal Chairman Jimmy R. Newton Jr., who passed away while in office in 2014.
Chairman Newton is remembered for his love for children, culture and community. And it is with this conference that his vision of educating and supporting all children is being kept alive.
“Jim was a big advocate for the youth,” Councilman Alex S. Cloud said. “We want to keep carrying on the visions and dreams of Jim.”
This year’s conference had about 150 attendees who all got to learn about what the late chairman did on behalf of the youth, tribe and community.
“I learned a lot from him,” Treasurer James M. Olguin said of his nephew, Jimmy. “Life is really short … be caring and compassionate.”
Elaine Newton, mother of Jimmy took the time to honor people who were special to Jimmy and helped him throughout his life. Among those recognized was the family of the late Orian Box.
Box took Jimmy under his wing when Jimmy was young and taught him about Ute culture and traditions, Elaine said.
Jimmy’s relationship with Box proved to be an example of this year’s theme. Jimmy was young when he became close to the elder who taught him about traditions and values. With Box’s teachings, Jimmy was able to grow up being involved with his culture, which also helped him reach his goal of becoming a leader of his people.
Jimmy was proud of being Ute and knowing his culture, his mother said.
“He was 14-years-old when he first Sun Danced,” Elaine said. “He learned the songs and who he was, he found himself. He was a Nuche and he was proud.”
After the recognitions and learning about the past leader, the youth got to enjoy a day filled with activities that were aimed to help them as they make their own journeys through life.
The youth were given a variety of breakout sessions to choose from that included social interactions, education, health, finances, and bullying – amongst many others.
The Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council (SCSYAC) played an integral part in the planning and organizing of the conference. For the most part, the conference is put on by the youth for the youth – with help from family, Tribal Council, tribal departments and community organizations.
Chairman Newton swore in the first Youth Council and had high aspirations of what the council could be.
Today, the Youth Council is thriving; traveling around the country representing the tribe and tackling issues young people in the community face every day. Much of what Jimmy had envisioned of the Youth Council has become a reality.