Forest County Potawatomi Community and Wisconsin Native Vote work to inspire next generation to be civically engaged
Dozens of Native American students from Crandon High School as well as the middle and high schools in Wabeno and Laona will gather at the Forest County Potawatomi Community Center Friday.
The event will be focused on civic engagement, democracy, and environmental stewardship.
“Our youth is important. In our culture, native [youth] are the future of what we're all about, they're going to be fighting for the protection of the land, the natural resources, water, and air quality. To do this, they're going to have to be educated in the democracy part and also about the voting process,” said Anne Egan-Waukau, the Urban Organizer for Wisconsin Native Vote.
Instilling civic responsibility in the next generation is important to her as it was something passed on to her from her father.
“There are decisions that are made in every election that impacts our course of history. That's why we want the voices of the indigenous people heard. They need to protect our language, our wild rice, our sovereignty, and we have to make sure that the youth voices are heard and their parents, their brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, and friends. That is our message to the Native community and it is resonating. We're hearing about it,” said Egan-Waukau.
To help this message resonate with young people, Egan-Waukau says they try to “hit them more where they really feel it” as she puts it.
That means focusing on their lakes, streams, and food sources like wild rice.
Speakers from Action for Climate Emergency and Forest County Potawatomi’s Land and Natural Resources Division will present at Friday’s Event.
Egan-Waukau says it’s important for the students to have events like this geared toward them.
“That's what this is about. Get them ready and realize how important they are to the future of our culture,” she said.