This year, American Indian Business Leaders accepted the Gen I Youth Challenge that is part of the White House’s Generation Indigenous Native Youth Initiative. AIBL, in collaboration with the University of Montana’s American Indian Student Services and Native American Studies Department, hosted a Missoula Native Youth Expressive Arts Workshop on May 26th, 2015 at the Payne Family Native American Center from 1PM – 7PM. In this workshop, youth will were guided through theater based activities by Blackfeet Actress Lily Gladstone, known for her roles in Winter in the Blood and Jimmy P. These theatre activities were utilized as not only ice breakers, but they helped the youth identity issues they encounter on a daily basis and empowered them to find their voices and address these issues.
Dialogued issues included discrimination and micro-aggressions within the public school systems from teachers and administrators. Also, participating youth discussed the disconnection they feel living in an urban area versus on the reservation and how that affects their identity.
Once the issues participating youth encounter on a daily basis were identified, the workshop moderators were able to introduce spoken word, performance and digital storytelling to the youth and share how these are tools for them to share their voices. The workshop moderators included hip hop artists from True Pride Music, Nataanii Means, Oglala Lakota/Dine; MC Rhetorik, Santo Domingo Pueblo; YAZ Like JAWZ, Blackfeet/Dine. Through the use of modern day technology, such as IPads and iPhones, youth recorded their experience with the workshop. A final 3 minute video of this experience will be posted soon!