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Center for Native American Youth announces 2014 Champions

Filed Under: National
More on: byron dorgan, cnay, dc, youth

The 2014 Champions of Change meet with Raina Thiele (Pedro Bay Native Village) of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. March 10, 2014. Photo from Facebook

Center for Native American Youth announced five Native youth as Champions for Change for their efforts to improve the lives of young Native Americans.

Former Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the founder of CNAY, brought the youth to Washington, D.C., this week to share their success stories. They have been meeting with members of Congress and Obama administration officials.

"Our Champions of Change program is designed to celebrate the achievements of some Native American youth who are doing important and inspiring work to improve the lives of others,” Dorgan said in a press release. “Native American youth have had a more difficult road to travel. Too often they have been left behind by government policies that made grand promises but failed to deliver on education, health care and more. These Champions for Change are making good things happen by their own initiative and we salute them."

This year's Champions of Change are:
• Elizabeth Burns (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) - age: 18; hometown: Claremore, OK
• Danielle Finn (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe) - age: 23; hometown: Bismarck, ND
• William Lucero (Lummi Nation) - age: 17; hometown: Ferndale, WA
• Keith Martinez (Oglala Lakota Sioux) - age: 20; hometown: Pine Ridge, SD
• Lauren McLester-Davis (Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin) - age: 16; hometown: De Pere, WI

"I have been told that my dream of helping other Native youth is ridiculous and that I should give up," Burns, who serves as president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council, said on CNAY's website. "I realized that negative comments won’t hold me back. I will make my dream a reality."

The youth will participate in a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute at 12pm. The event will be webcast at

CNAY, which Dorgan created with his campaign funds, will be celebrating its third anniversary with a reception on Wednesday.

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