Choctaw Students Attend I-LEAD Native Youth Summit in Montana

Photos provided by the Choctaw Nation 

Wright City Public School teacher Stacey Williams, Cecilia Young, Yasmine Myers, Pete Young, Madisson Ludlow, Madelynn Dancer and Choctaw Nation Outreach Services Director Melissa Cress dress in traditional Choctaw Regalia for the I-LEAD Native Youth Summit.

Five participants from Choctaw Nations Chahta Himmak Pila Pehlichi “Choctaw Future Leaders” summer internship attended the Native Youth Initiatives for Leadership, Empowerment, and Development (ILEAD) Youth Summit. The summit was recently held July 23-26 at the University of Montana, in Missoula, Montana, where students stayed in the college dormitories. 

Madelynn Dancer, Cecilia Young, Madisson Ludlow, Yasmine Myers and Pete Young were chosen to attend the Youth Summit. Each completed the Chahta Himmak Pila Pehlichi program and won “Outstanding Leader” for their area.

Cecilia Young of Wright City was appointed to sit on the Youth Summit Committee where she met weekly with other participants. The committee helped coordinate the event by planning activities, choosing discussion topics and key speakers for the summit.

“I’m so grateful to have represented the Choctaw Nation at the I-LEAD Native Youth Summit,” said Young. “It was an honor to participate in this summit with four other amazing members of my tribe and countless other indigenous people.”

The summit was sponsored by the U.S. Administration for Native Americans (ANA) where it brought more than 100 Native youth from 13 tribal and island nations together.

The Summit focused on cultural protective factors that help keep youth from risky behaviors by seeing their communities as a source of strength and resiliency in the face of adversity. It gave participants the opportunity to learn about other native cultures and were encouraged to demonstrate their own culture through various activities.

Choctaw students showed their Chahta spirit of “Faith, Family and Culture” by performing Choctaw Hymn #48 and the traditional Snake Dance.