A Voice For Our Youth: Juvenile Justice Roundtable Speakers

The Center for Native American Youth and Colorado Juvenile Defender Center are proud to co-host a roundtable on Native youth and the juvenile justice system on Friday, August 24, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Youth panelists for this event include Isabel Coronado, Sonwai Wakayuta, and Reuban Abeita.

Isabel Coronado is a citizen of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation. Her clan is the Wind Clan, and Tribal Town affiliation is Thlopthlocco Tribal Town. Ms. Coronado is the Deputy Director for The American Indian Criminal Justice Navigation Council (AICJNC), where she helped develop the AICJNC from the ground up. Isabel received her Bachelor of Science degree in Healthcare Administration in Spring of May 2017 from Northeastern State University. She is a current graduate student at Oklahoma State University. Ms. Coronado is pursuing a Masters of Public Health degree with an emphasis on rural and underserved populations. Currently, Ms. Coronado is a 2018 Champion for Change through the Center for Native Youth. Prior to working at the AICJNC, she gained firsthand experience with local and national Indian health policy through internships with the Cherokee Nation Hospital and the United States Social Security Administration in Washington D.C., where she also studied Indian law at the American University as a part of the Washington Interns for Native Students (WINS) program. Ms. Coronado is a member of the oldest American Indian Sorority in the nation, Alpha Pi Omega, where she advocates for women in leadership. Her dream is to see every American Indian have equal access to healthcare and health programs.

Sonwai Wakayuta was born and raised in Arizona, with roots that connect her to the Hualapai and Hopi tribes. She is currently a first year student at Haskell University with plans to study environmental sustainability. At 15 years old, Sonwai joined her youth council, first as a general member, then served as Vice President, and now leads as council President. Over her three years on council, Sonwai has volunteered with her fellow council members to have monthly meetings with youth who are serving time in a local detention facility. Within those meetings, youth at the facility share their stories and ambitions for the future, while Sonwai shares her own journey with the juvenile justice system, and tells why she chose to take a different path. She hopes that her story will help youth safely find their own way. Sonwai is an Earth Ambassador with United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY). Fun fact: Sonwai loves music and art, her favorite color is any shade of blue, and her favorite number is 5.

Reuban Abeita is from the Pueblo of Isleta and attended Chemawa Indian School from 2017 to 2018. This year, he attended and completed the New Mexico National Guard ChalleNGe Academy from January to June. While attending the Academy, Reuban also studied Media Arts at New Mexico Highlands University. He is currently working toward his GED and continuing his education in this field. Reuban has also worked for his tribe in their Human Resources Office, assisting with daily correspondence and file management. He found a mentor in a Police Officer for the City of Albuquerque, who provides him with regular guidance and advice. In his free time, Reuban enjoys listening to music and watching movies.