Native Youth for Justice - LA
Youth ages 12-24 years old have been active members and leaders of the California Native Vote Project since its inception.
From Indigenous Peoples Day to the removal of the Columbus statue in Grand Park to the emergent Indigenous Education Now justice campaign, youth have shown their leadership through serving as speakers during public hearings and events; learning hands on organizing tactics such as conducting power analyses, understanding targets, conducting letter and phone banking campaigns to amplify Indigenous community voice; and building multiracial and multi-issue partnerships and coalitions.
In 2019, youth engaged with the California Native Vote Project created their own youth group — Native Youth for Justice – LA. Their mission is to create a Native youth leadership group focused on power and justice through youth organizing and civic participation. All Native youth from throughout Southern California are invited to attend monthly meetings.
Why Youth Organizing?
California’s youth social justice infrastructure is viewed across the country as one of the most robust in the nation. Youth organizing campaign outcomes across the state is evidence that investment in youth, power building and base building are winning strategies for success.
Yet as we look at the youth organizing infrastructure, coalitions and organizations throughout the state they are sorely missing the history, voices and contributions of Native peoples, this state’s first peoples.
A large part of settler colonialism, state sponsored genocide, and governmental assimilation policy is dependent upon erasing the history and contemporary status of Indigenous peoples. With so much beautiful and brilliant change led by youth happening around us, we cannot be excluded. To do so, would be to replicate the systems of oppression that the larger progressive infrastructure is seeking to dismantle. There can be no justice in California when Native peoples – and especially our youth – are excluded.
Indigenous Youth Organizing Academy (IYOA)
The California Native Vote Project will host a virtual Summer Youth Organizing Academy designed to build leadership and organizing skills for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Youth across the state. The Academy will have an emphasis on Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Del Norte counties in year one, and expand to include additional geographies in future years. As a result of this academy, youth will better understand the history of California from a Native perspective; build stronger relationships with other American Indian/Alaska Native Youth in California; develop a stronger understanding of their own identity, and how that is the basis of their leadership; learn about historic and current issues impacting Native peoples in California; and gain practical skills in community organizing, base building and advocacy. As a result of the academy, CNVP seeks to create a statewide network of organizations and youth committed to building individual and collective Native youth power. We anticipate that this network will lay the foundation for future statewide campaign work on issues that impact Native communities across the state, such as Indigenous education reform and eradicating racist monuments and holidays.
Meet our CNVP Youth Organizers
Sygourney "Pony" Williams
Youth Organize! California
Youth Organize! California, or YO! Cali, builds leadership pathways and serves as a hub for youth organizing that places youth at the forefront of a bold, multi-issue movement for transformation, liberation, healing, collective power, and justice. YO! Cali expands the capacity of young people and organizations in California, to practice transformative youth organizing, build power, and create long-term positive impact in our native communities.
Power California (PowerCA) is a statewide organization focused on youth and adults, 18-35 years of age, in the areas of Integrated Voter Engagement (IVE), Leadership Training, Movement Building, and Cultural Shifting. PowerCA emerged from the union of “Mobilize The Immigrant Vote” and “YVote”– two of California’s most successful organizers of immigrants, refugees and youth of color.