Fri Mar 13th, 2020
The Southern Ute Drum
Categories: Top Stories
Tags: Bri Buentello, Colorado Youth Advisory Council, COYAC, Don Coram, Dustin Weaver, Gov. Jared Polis, Hugh McKean, Jazmin Carmenoros, Latitia Taylor, Lt. Gov. Dianna Primavera, Nancy Todd, Southern Ute Education Department, State of Colorado, Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory (SCSYAC)
In early January 2020, House Bill 20-1021 was introduced to the General Assembly of Colorado adding two voting positions on the Colorado Youth Advisory Council (COYAC) for representatives from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
The House Bill was signed into Colorado Law on Wednesday, Feb. 26, by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and was the first bill signed in 2020. The bill will put the state of Colorado on the path of inclusivity to help strengthen the voice of leadership at every level of state government; which now includes youth representing both of Colorado’s Ute Tribes.
LaTitia Taylor, Director of Education for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe; Dustin Weaver, Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council Youth Employment Program Coordinator; and Jazmin Carmenoros, Chairman of the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council attended the signing of House Bill 20-1021 at the State Capitol in Denver.
“The strength of Colorado and a Colorado for all really comes from diversity of our people,” proclaimed Gov. Jared Polis. “Our Native nations are a critical part of the Colorado for all and that diversity and strength we have as a state.”
The revision to Colorado Statute, 2-2-1303 would allow those two Ute representatives to be active members of the Colorado Youth Advisory Council, but also be a part of the 40-member youth board that is highly active in Colorado with subjects of such interest as: needs, education, employment, youth engagement, as well as other issues that affect Colorado youth.
The youth serve a two-year term and must be between the ages of 14-19 to qualify and attend a Colorado high school, middle school or junior high. Youth are expected to attend four meetings yearly and will serve on a policy committee, which is dependent on their interests.
The over-all mission of COYAC is to examine, evaluate and discuss the issues most relevant to Colorado youth and to formally advise and make recommendations to elected officials regarding those issues.
“It is an honor as a youth of The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and for our sister tribe the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe to have a seat on the Colorado Youth Advisory Council,” Jazmin Carmenoros stated. “It will give all of our youth of our tribes a voice and an opportunity that we greatly appreciate and need.”
COYAC was formed in 2008 and has had huge success with major backing from some of Colorado’s top legislators; Rep. Hugh McKean, Sen. Nancy Todd, Rep. Bri Buentello and Sen. Don Coram along with the Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera who also heads up the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs (CCIA) and is the liaison between the state and the Colorado Ute Tribes.
“What an amazing life experience for the kids who are already on COYAC to be able to have this experience with their Native American brothers and sisters from this state. I think it is one of the more remarkable things we get to do,” exclaimed Rep. Hugh McKean.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe has been building youth leadership since the early 2000’s with the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council (SCSYAC) and a youth council that was originally started in 2005 under the leadership of McKean Walton, who was then with the Tribe’s Recreation Department. It was reestablished under the leadership of the late Chairman, Jimmy Newton Jr. in 2013, as the Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory Council. The first official SCSYAC was sworn in in 2014; making that the first official step in broadening Southern Ute youth’s horizons in aspects that affect not just their own community, but the state.
Being able to interact with Colorado State Legislators and being able to learn about issues that affect their communities and the issues that are relevant to the youth. They will also learn the fundamentals of public policy and state government. Rural communities face all sorts of disparities. Consequently, youth having a voice for their own community is a big step forward in combating the geographic isolation many of these communities face, along with many of the health issues being in a rural area can bring upon them. Positive community engagement — addressing suicide prevention and awarness among youth — is a key component for tribal communities.
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Southern Ute Education Department plans to promote and advertise to Southern Ute youth to join COYAC and to help foster the relationship between the state and the Tribe.
“What I see is that this will help build the relationship between the Tribe and the state of Colorado, our youth will be our adults and our leaders for this state,” said Taylor. “I just think it’s awesome that our youth, the Ute youth, will be a part of this Colorado Youth Advisory Council.”