SUNY Canton Student Speaks With President Obama During Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C.
SUNY Canton student and Akwesasne St. Regis Mohawk Nation (Bear Clan) member Brayden S. White had a special opportunity to serve as a youth delegate at the seventh annual White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 5.
White, a freshmen in the Early Childhood program, participated in a panel discussion with President Obama and four other Native American youth representatives where they examined topics important to indigenous peoples, including education, poverty, health and employment.
White was one of 24 native youth delegates to attend the conference and was selected by the White House to participate on the panel.
During the hour-long discussion, White asked President Obama how his administration intends to work with tribal education departments to empower low-income Native American youth to pursue a college degree.
Obama replied, saying, “an education is the key to the middle-class life in the modern world,” and pledged to work on better communicating federal grant and student loan opportunities to high schools through a collaboration with the Department of Education, the Department of the Interior and local school districts.
The President also stressed the importance of supporting tribal colleges, which he said offer students the opportunity to “get a really good education that is culturally linked and allows young people, sometimes, to stay at home,” noting the challenges Native Americans face when separated from their tribes while attending traditional colleges.
The panel was a part of a daylong conference where leaders from 567 federally recognized tribes were able to speak with government officials and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. The conference aims to strengthen relationships with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.
This was White’s second visit to the nation’s capital this year. He previously traveled to Washington, D.C., this summer for the first-ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering as part of the President’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative where he met First Lady Michelle Obama.
“This has been an incredible year,” White said. “Both conferences offered unique nation-to-nation relationship-building opportunities, and all of us were able to hear about the issues affecting other native tribes.”
White has also been active on campus to create awareness about Native American culture and traditions. He will serve as president of the newly established Native American Student Association.
“Brayden has been very active in bringing a Native American presence to our campus and exhibits a passion and determination to helping his nation and native peoples,” said SUNY Canton Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Native American Student Association adviser William T. Jones, J.D. “He has also been instrumental in working with me to bring native students on campus together.”
To watch the entire panel discussion, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPGb2TmK3DI.
About SUNY Canton
SUNY Canton is Northern New York’s premier college for career-driven bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees and certificate programs. The college delivers quality hands-on programs in engineering technology, health, management and public service. Faculty members are noted for their professional real-world experience in addition to outstanding academic credentials. SUNY Canton OnLine offers hundreds of flexible and convenient courses as well as ten exclusively online bachelor’s degrees. The college’s 14 athletic teams compete as members of the NCAA Division III.