Graham Nelson Beyale is Dine (Navajo) from Shiprock, NM and is majoring in Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Graham wrote to the Center to share his inspiring story of getting young Native Americans involved in tribal community projects across New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.
At a young age, Graham recognized the challenges facing his community - poverty, substance abuse, historical trauma, domestic violence, health problems, environmental issues and young suicide - and decided that he could be the one to start addressing these challenges. During Graham’s first year at UNM he was inspired by the many Native American youth like himself who wanted to make a difference in their home communities and reservations. Graham decided to return home and put to use his ideas, teachings and energy to better his community.
Graham’s first community project was the development of beach volleyball courts at Shiprock’s Nizhoni Park on the bank of the San Juan River. Over 60 Native youth from across the community came together to help Graham make this dream a reality. This community project was just the beginning of the Native youth movement in Shiprock. Graham discovered that youth wanted to make a difference, get involved in community service, and aspired to make a positive change.
From this volleyball court project, the Northern Dine Youth Committee (NDYC) was created and three years later the committee has completed 23 service projects, 37 community events, 22 fundraisers and participated in numerous youth meetings. The NDYC currently involves over 70 members representing 16 tribal communities in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. The Northern Dine Youth Committee strives to empower their peers to be young leaders, guided by generational teachings to serve and inspire pride in their Native communities. NDYC has been recognized by the New Mexico Governor, Navajo Nation Vice President, and local community leaders.
Beyale shares the message that “we may be the products of a hurt people in history but we are the seeds of restoration for today and many years to come. We can be the generation to defeat those hardships.”
|Dirk’s 262 Mile Run to Support Native Youth
Dirk Whitebreast, a 31-year-old member of Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, is taking on the challenge of running 10 marathons (listed below) in 30 days in an effort to raise awareness of the tragic level of youth suicide in Indian Country and other challenges faced by Native youth. All the money raised for Dirk’s 262 Mile Run will be donated to support the Center for Native American Youth.
On March 28, 2003, Dirk suffered the tragic loss of his 18 year old sister, Darcy Jo Keahna, to suicide. At that moment, in an effort to cope with the loss of his sibling, Dirk decided to take control of his life and become a healthier, stronger leader for his family, tribe and the entire community. Dirk’s running career began in the fall of 2003 and it didn’t take long for running to become his passion.
Running is important to the culture of many Indian tribes across the United States. It is a challenge to one’s body, mind, and spirit. Dirk ran his first marathon in April of 2006 and after that race he was hooked. To date, Dirk has run 29 marathons in 17 states and is in his 8th year of alcohol sobriety.
Dirk hopes to share his experience of running marathons with Native youth, tribal leaders, and other organizations. Through his running, Dirk aims to first and foremost honor his sister, promote healthy living in Indian Country, and set an example of commitment, motivation, hard work and leadership for all Native American youth. Dirk’s 262 mile challenge is a symbol of strength and endurance for Indian Country, and will create hope for Native youth while playing a part in preventing and raising awareness of the tragedy of youth suicide.
Be a part of Dirk’s 262 mile run and show your support for the Center for Native American Youth by donating today.
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