Center for Native American Youth

Center for Native American Youth Response to COVID-19


The Center for Native American Youth has been and continues to work with youth leaders, partner organizations and supporters from throughout the country in response to COVID-19. We have three projects we have been working on we are proud to share: 
Opened Letter to Native Youth: We have partnered with Maria Givens (Coeur d’Alene Tribe) to write a letter to you, our youth leaders. In the opened letter to Native youth, Maria states: “A disease like COVID-19 may remind us of the diseases where we lost a lot of our ancestors. This may be bringing up intergenerational traumas inside of us that are hard to explain. You are not weak for feeling something that is hard to explain. You are human… If you are feeling like intergenerational trauma is bubbling to the surface for you, just remember – ancestral and intergenerational strength has also been passed down to you.”  
To read the complete Dear Native Youth letter, click here.

Native Youth Response to COVID-19: We know that youth are at the forefront in ensuring safe and healthy communities. The Center for Native American Youth has created a Call For Response, encouraging young leaders from throughout the country to share what they are doing to stay safe. This includes youth like Generation Indigenous Ambassador Autumn Harry, (Numu & Diné), who is offering her skills as a fisherwoman to help alleviate fears of food scarcity within the Pyramid Lake Tribal Community. Autumn shares with us: “Due to the pandemic, our nearest grocery stores are still getting ransacked and items are being hoarded, forcing our rural communities to pick from the scraps. Although I’m not able to make monetary contributions to elders and families who are struggling during this time, I can use my fishing skills to help put ancestral foods on the table. In an effort to help alleviate fears of food scarcity, I am fishing for e numudooe (Lahontan Cutthroat Trout) – fresh, gutted and cleaned.”

We invite youth to continue to share their response HERE. To read the Native Youth Response to COVID-19 Report, visit HERE

Tele-Native Youth: CNAY will be launching a webinar series designed by native youth, for native youth. We will working directly with youth leaders to craft a virtual town hall with professionals to co-lead discussions. Tele-Native Youth will create and support a virtual community for youth and professionals across the country to connect and discuss issues such as mental health, caring for elders, culture preservation, and more. We invite young leaders to submit topics HERE. We will hold these webinars bi-weekly and share among our social media platforms. Please, join the conversation!

CNAY is dedicated to the safety and wellbeing of our families, our communities and our youth leaders. During this time, it is important to remember and continue to rely on the strength that lies within us. For questions or recommendations on ways to get involved in our Native Youth Response to COVID-19 or our Tele-Native Youth series, please email Jarrette Werk at

The Center for Native American Youth is a policy program of The Aspen Institute, located in Washington, DC. Created by former US Senator Byron Dorgan, CNAY believes Native American youth should lead full and healthy lives, have equal access to opportunity, and draw strength from their culture and one another. CNAY focuses on the resilience of Native youth and supports them through youth recognition, inspiration, and leadership; research, advocacy, and policy change; serving as a national resource exchange; and by developing strengths-based Native youth media opportunities. Learn more at