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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue highlights National Mentoring Month and OJJDP’s support for youth mentoring programs, National AMBER Alert Awareness Day, OJJDP orientation and consultation sessions with new Tribal grantees, and efforts to strengthen programs for Native youth.
Message From the Administrator: Pursuing Racial Equity and Fairness
OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan - OJJDP News @ a Glance, May 2022

Tribal News Shorts

Podcast Episode Explores the Local and National Contributions of Two Native Youth

Tribal Youth Resource Center logo

In the “Native Youth Making an Impact!” episode of the  Tribal Youth Resource Center podcast, two of the center’s youth ambassadors discuss their efforts to create change for Indigenous peoples in their communities and nationally. The podcast features:

  • Sydney Matheson, an enrolled member of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington State. She works as a certified nursing assistant and emergency medical technician. From 2018 to 2020, Ms. Matheson served as co-vice president of the National Congress of American Indians Youth Commission.
  • Sam Schimmel, a St. Lawrence Island Siberian Yupik and Kenaitze Indian from Kenai, Alaska. An advisory board member for the Center for Native American Youth, he also co-chairs the Arctic Youth Network’s board of directors. In 2021, he launched Operation Fish Drop to help Native people in urban areas access traditional foods during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a member of Alaska’s Climate Action Leadership Team in 2018, he helped craft the state’s policy on climate change.

The episode explores Ms. Matheson’s and Mr. Schimmel’s lived experiences as Native youth, the challenges they have faced, and the reasons behind their decisions to organize, advocate, and educate on behalf of their communities. Mr. Schimmel characterized advocacy as a way to ensure programs and services for Indigenous communities align with “our Native ways of knowing and our Native ways of being.”

The series is available on the Tribal Youth Resource Center website.

Culturally Sensitive Resources Support Young Native Victims of or Witnesses to Crime

Graphic for the Office for Victims of Crime’s Child Victims and Witnesses Support Materials for youth in Tribal communities

An update to Child Victims and Witnesses Support Materials includes picture books, comic books, and graphic novels to assist children and youth in Tribal communities who encounter the justice system as victims of or witnesses to crime. Released by the Office for Victims of Crime, the materials feature artwork and stories developed by Native artists and authors and focus on the unique challenges faced by young victims and witnesses in Tribal communities.

These resources are designed for children and youth in three age groups: 2 to 6, 7 to 12, and 13 to 18. They take a culturally sensitive approach to healing from trauma, recognizing that many child victims and witnesses in American Indian and Alaska Native communities have experienced multiple forms of violence in their lifetimes. The materials explain how the justice system operates, the rights of witnesses to and victims of crime, the roles played by various practitioners, and how youth can cope with their emotions and other responses to suffering or witnessing criminal behavior.

Guides are also available for practitioners who work with children and youth and for parents and caregivers helping young people navigate the justice system.

Inter-Tribal Alliance Identifies Actions To Improve Juvenile Justice Systems in the Pacific Northwest

A study by an inter-Tribal working group, the NW Tribal Juvenile Justice Alliance, identified juvenile justice best practices for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth living in the Pacific Northwest. Their findings underscore two needs impacting system-involved AI/AN youth:

  • A need for data surveillance and improved interagency coordination with Tribes, to better support Native youth transitioning from incarceration.
  • A need for Tribal best practices and cultural activities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.

The working group’s 43 members included Tribal youth, members of Tribal law enforcement, human services professionals, and juvenile justice professionals from state agencies in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State. Over 18 months, they held four focus groups, conducted surveys, and interviewed professionals who work with Tribal communities and juvenile justice systems in the three states.

The study addressed a research gap in the region, the group’s final report states. “While AI/AN youth in the region experience disproportionate rates of juvenile justice involvement, no planning body is presently convening decision-makers to elevate these important health and safety research questions in AI/AN communities,” it says.

The project received funding under the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Tribal Researcher Capacity Building Program, which aims to strengthen research and evaluation projects in Indian country and Alaska Native villages by fostering collaborations between researchers and Tribal nations. NIJ’s Embracing Tribal Culture To Build Research Partnerships webpage explores the program’s impact since its launch in 2018.

Date Created: February 7, 2023