Indigenous Youth Council
The Indigenous Youth Council (IYC) was formed in February 2021 following two listening sessions that the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (IAD) held with tribal youth from across the state. Issues discussed ranged from the desire to have access to higher education resources to behavioral and mental health needs for tribal communities. Participants also voiced the desire to have more intertribal connections between the Nations, Tribes, and Pueblos in the state.
The IAD selected members representing the 23 Nations, Tribes, and Pueblos to engage with the department and help steer the work related to the issues raised at the listening sessions. IAD provides this space to come together to share mutual experiences, collaborate on shared initiatives, and build community.
For more information, please contact email@example.com.
2022 – 2023 IYC MEMBERS
Mescalero Apache Tribe
Jeremy is a member of the Mescalero Nde Youth Council that is associated with the Mescalero Prevention Program. The Nde Youth Council helps the Mescalero Apache youth by offering workshops providing motivational youth activities and educating youth in the community. The focus is to help the youth get involved and to find a better way to cope with mental and physical health rather than to go a different route, which may lead to drug addiction, alcohol, and suicide.
Joel Biakaiddy is an active member of the NM MESA Club at Crownpoint High School. MESA is a pre-college program that prepares students for college majors and careers in STEM fields. Joel enjoys math, science, and engineering. He has also worked to revitalize the Eagle Beat Newspaper at CHS and is a perspective Student Ambassador for the Human Health Sciences at CHS. Joining the IYC is an opportunity that will open doors for future generations of Native Youth to ensure that their voices are heard.
Kaiya Brown (She/They) is 16 years old junior attending V. Sue Cleveland Highschool in Rio Rancho, NM, and a member of the Navajo Nation, from Tó Hahadleeh (Indian Wells, Arizona).My clans are Tót’soh’nii níshłí, Bina’adaałtsózí éí bá shíshchíín, Tachii’nii ‘éí dashicheii, Bilagáana ‘éí dashinálí. I recently created the first Native American Club (now renamed as Native American Student Union) at my high school in hopes of bringing Indigenous youth together into the community to make changes. We have fundraised for causes such as the Coalition To Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW). In my downtime, I enjoy reading, practicing yoga, roller skating, and studying my mother language, Diné Bizaad, through dual credit at the IAIA in Santa Fe, NM. Ultimately, I am motivated to utilize both this council and my school’s NA student union to unite indigenous youth through culture, language revitalization, and empowerment.
Alysia currently serves as the Director of Membership and Outreach for the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women She also serves as the Co-Chair of the All Pueblo Council of Governors Youth Committee and is a Board Member for Naeva (formerly known as NAVA-EP). She is also the Female Co-President for the Kewa TRUTH Youth Council and former Co-President of the UNM Kiva Club. Alysia is a 2020 recipient of UNITY’s 25 under 25 Award and an Uplift Climate Fellow. She is passionate about creating empowerment through community building, revitalizing and maintaining Indigenous language and culture, and making positive social change in Native communities beginning with our young people.
My name is K’wani Cortes (she/her). I am 21 years old, and I am from the pueblo of Acoma. I am currently attending the University of New Mexico. I enjoy being an older sibling and participating in my traditional dances. I also enjoy reading and watching Netflix. I currently have an internship with the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women where I am learning to be a cycle-breaker and advocate for social change. As a youth, I previously attended the CSVANW Native Youth Summit and now I am able to participate as a staff member. I hope to address issues of generational trauma and LGBTQ+2S inclusivity.
Santa Ana Pueblo
She is in her senior year at Bernalillo High School, a member of the Hanu Youth Council, track & field, and cross-country teams. She is focused on how youth are facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and finding a balance between duties at school and home. Cheyenne enjoys hanging out with her 3 brothers. Cheyenne is excited to be a part of the Indigenous Youth Council.
Kylea comes from Kewa Pueblo, NM. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College where she studied Native American Studies and Global Health. During her time at Dartmouth, Kylea served on multiple student committees and organizations–with a specific focus on serving Native and Indigenous students. Kylea currently works as a Research Assistant for the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (AASTEC). AASTEC is a department within the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board which serves the 27 tribal communities across New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. With her background in health and wellbeing, Kylea hopes to collaborate with other Native youth across New Mexico to design and implement culturally-centered programming to address health and wellbeing issues in our communities. In the near future, Kylea plans to attend graduate school and obtain a Master’s in Public Health.
Santa Ana and Acoma Pueblo
Taneya Garcia (she/her) comes from Santa Ana and Acoma Pueblos. Taneya is a recent college graduate of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin where she obtained her undergraduate degrees in the fields of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies in June 2022. While at Lawrence University Taneya was a part of many organizations including the President of Lawrence University Native American Organization (LUNA). She is passionate about Indigenous Education, language reclamation, and learning about the ways she can give back to her community through education and by addressing educational inequities for Native students. Taneya recently accepted the position of the 2022-2023 Institute for Policy Studies New Mexico Fellowship in Washington D.C. where she will spend a fellowship year working with the Poor Peoples’ Campaign and return to New Mexico to work with a non-profit organization. Outside of academics and her, career Taneya enjoys weightlifting, cooking, running, and spending time with her family. She looks forward to supporting her communities through conversations with the youth and providing resources to her communities surrounding Indigenous education, language reclamation, and holistic wellness.
Keshi Ko don’ dewan ah’deya’yeh! Ho Joseph Harker Leshinah. Hom anodi’weh donashi:kwe deyan kwa’lashi’bitchi:kwe awan cha’le. Hello, my name is Joseph Harker, my clans are badger and child of a crow. I am 20 years of age. I am from the Pueblo of Zuni. I am currently a junior at the Colorado State University-Pueblo. Where I am studying Biology-Pre-Med. Here I also am on the Cross County/ Track & Field teams. I am happy to be a part of this cohort to make our youth happy!
Taylor Lucero (She/Her/Hers) is from K’awaika Hanu, also known as Laguna Pueblo. She is a recent graduate of the University of Denver (DU) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology while minoring in Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. During undergrad, Taylor served as a Co-Chair President and Publicist for the DU Native Student Alliance. She also served as an undergraduate student representative on the DU Native American Indigenous Leadership Council and DU Sand Creek Memorial team. These roles aimed to give strategic insight and helpful suggestions on better serving, recognizing, and supporting Native American students, staff, and faculty at DU while educating the public about the historic settler violence against the Indigenous Nations of Denver, Colorado. Taylor is also a recipient of the New Mexico Davis Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship provided to first-generation students in New Mexico. Taylor is currently a 2022 Summer intern for the College Horizons Program, a non-profit organization, and college readiness program that helps prepare Native and Indigenous scholars for higher education. Taylor looks forward to learning and building community in the Indigenous Youth Council and using her knowledge to address the topics of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit relatives (MMIWG2S), mental health, and other issues affecting Indian Country today.
Santa Clara Pueblo
Shayna Naranjo (she/her) is a youth from Santa Clara Pueblo. As a former Co-Chair for the All Pueblo Council of Governors Youth Committee and Stanford American Indian Organization, she has an array of experiences rooted in community wellness and youth engagement. She recently completed her B.A. in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University after a six-year journey. Next, she’s planning on attending graduate school at the Yale School of Public Health to earn her MPH in Social and Behavioral Sciences this coming fall.
Jicarilla Apache Tribe
Mathis is currently working as a summer youth program coordinator at the Jicarilla Apache emergency medical services. He attended Colorado State University and received his B.S. in Natural Resources. In College he served as a peer mentor and was apart of student senate at Colorado State University. He’s a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation and resides in Dulce, NM. He enjoys working out, playing sports, cooking, dancing, playing piano, and skateboarding.
Trinity Roybal (she/her) is from P’osuwaegeh Owingeh (Pojoaque Pueblo/Water Drinking Place Village). Trinity is currently a freshman at the University of New Mexico and is interested in finding ways to get Native youth engaged on issues such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives, language revitalization, and food sovereignty.
In her free time, Trinity enjoys drawing, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She looks forward to continuing to take part in the council and connecting with Indigenous youth from across the state to bring much-needed resources to Tribal communities.
Chenoa (Diné) currently serves as the Southwest Regional Representative (will be ‘ Female Co-President ‘ after July 12) of the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) Executive Committee. During her last year of undergraduate studies, she was Co-President of UNM Kiva Club, an ambassador for both the New Mexico Health Careers Opportunities Program and American Indian Student Services, as well as a voting member of the UNM Student Fee Review Board. She will continue to work alongside other amazing young leaders at Native Health Initiative in Albuquerque.
Levi is a graduating student of Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute with an Associate’s Degree in Natural Resources Management. He is a National American Indian Business Leaders Holistic Indigenous Business Leaders Mentoring Program Fellow, and a Founding Board Member of the Pueblo Development Commission NGO. He is also a rancher and agricultural enthusiast. Levi is passionate about ecological preservation and honoring his traditional cultural practices through land-based stewardship.
Ameerah Suina Thomas
Ameerah Suina (she/they) comes from Laguna Pueblo (Kawaika) and is of West African descent. She is an early career professional in non-profit spaces, currently working as a Social Engagement Specialist with the Greater Albuquerque Housing Partnership (GAHP). With experience as an intern in then Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s D.C office, as well as the district office in Albuquerque, Ameerah had the opportunity to work closely with the staff on legislation, hear from constituents, and sit in on a plethora of briefings all over Capitol Hill. She is passionate about making all tribal youth feel welcomed and safe in our communities, regardless of blood quantum or residence.
Ameerah holds a B.A in Africana Studies from the University of New Mexico, and a minor in Peace Studies with a concentration on conflict, peace, and diplomacy. She is currently expanding on her American Sign Language education, as well as working on fixing up her childhood home. She enjoys listening to music, dancing, and trying out new hairstyles.
Ian Teller (Dawn), 21 years old, is a Diné (Navajo) actor and entertainment entrepreneur. He specializes in filmmaking and digital content creation. Ian is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Music Industry at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration. He also serves as a member of New Mexico’s first Indigenous Youth Council, which works to promote Native youth issues and perspectives directly to leadership.
Indigenous representation in entertainment is essential to shaping accurate stories and depictions of Native people, which is why Ian is committed to supporting Native talents in various fields of the industry. In addition, Ian is also working on various projects and content that highlight Native talents, such as a mini-documentary series and Native-based music events. In addition, with his Music Industry degree, he can consult on areas of publishing/licensing, management, branding, and other music business topics.
Andrea Toledo (she/they) is Water Clan from the Pueblo of Jemez and represents the Laguna, Hopi, and Santa Ana tribes. She currently attends Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute with the hopes of completing her Liberal Arts degree. She works alongside Pueblo Action Alliance as a Youth Communications Organizer and Co-Leads a Cultivating Roots and Resistance Fellowship. She is also the Female Co-Chair for the Young Chefs of America: Indigenous Food Sovereignty Coalition. In her free time, she loves to write poetry and create graphics for her small business, Cloud Top Creations. She also enjoys planting fruits and vegetables at her family field in Jemez, creating new recipes, cooking with her partner, and exploring the great outdoors. She is empowered by the thought of creating a positive future for Indigenous youth by amplifying their voices and protecting their cultural lifeways. She believes that IYC will provide tools and experiences to help pursue her dreams for the children in Indigenous communities.
Kiera Toya, 21, is an enrolled member from the Pueblo of Jemez. On the UNM campus she is involved with the UNM American Indian Student Services Ambassador program, UNM Kiva Club, and Native American Studies Indigenous Research Group. Outside of school, serves on the All Pueblo Council of Governors Youth Committee, staff with Native Health Initiative, and 2022 UNITY 25 Under 25 Leadership Award recipient. She hopes to continue to inspire and be an advocate for all Indigenous youth.
Kari Vallo (Pueblo of Acoma) is an alumnus of New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science (2019) and a current graduate student at The University of Oklahoma (2022). She will attain a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous Peoples Law in December. Currently, Kari is working with her tribe as the Health Educator for the Pueblo of Acoma Health and Wellness Department under the Pueblo of Acoma Health and Human Services Division. Additionally, she is the Vice President of the Miss Indian New Mexico Board of Directors. Her ambassadorship roles include Miss Indian New Mexico Teen I 2014-2015, Miss Native American New Mexico State University 2018, and Miss Indian New Mexico-Runner Up 2021.
Her passion is in public health and building health equity for her community. She strives to look for ways to help her people during the pandemic and other health-related topics. Her job enables her to serve her people, and it is something she finds very rewarding.
Ho’ Kaleia Vicenti le’shina. Ho’ dowa:kwe deyan donashi:kwe awan cha’le. Ho’ asdemthan hae’legyaythdo debikwikya. Hom ałashina achi , Stephanie Vicenti dap Michael Wolf Sr. le’shina. Hello, my name is Kaleia Vicenti, I am of the corn clan and the child of the badger clan. I am eighteen years old and my parents are Stephanie Vicenti and Michael Wolf Sr. I am currently a student-athlete at Trinidad State College running Cross Country and Track, meanwhile studying Pediatrics. As of right now, I am working with the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP) here in Zuni working full-time as a Lead Camp Counselor. My goal in life is the provide and give in any way that I can to my community and people for all they have done for me.
IYC Final Report and Recommendations
2023 IYC Health & Wellness Webinar Series
IYC Indigenous Language Month Proclamation
IYC Press Releases
New Mexico Indigenous Youth Council Presents Final Report and Recommendations to Governor Lujan Grisham and Tribal Leaders
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Announces Indigenous Youth Council
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Announces 2021 Indigenous Youth Wellness Summit
NM IAD Announces 2022 Indigenous Youth Wellness Summit
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department announces the 2022 Indigenous Youth Council
In recognition of Native American Heritage Month, Governor Lujan Grisham declares November to be New Mexico Indigenous Languages Month
IYC in the news
New Mexico Listens to Native Youth to Find Solutions to Epidemic of Mental Health Issues | Health (nativenewsonline.net)
Indigenous Youth Council holds virtual summit (krqe.com)
Indigenous youth take on mental health, wellness challenge (apnews.com)
Mental Health Awareness in Indian Country (New Mexico in Focus)
New Mexico Indian Affairs Department Announces Indigenous Youth Council (Red Lake Nation News)
Indian Affairs Department launches Indigenous Youth Council (santafenewmexican.com)
A seat at the table: NM hosts first-ever indigenous youth summit – Navajo Times