This report presents the proceedings of four Native youth-led Town Halls held virtually to provide Native youth the opportunity to share their concerns about public safety and tribal juvenile justice issues, and included are youth responses to a survey following the Town Halls.
The Town Halls solicited the participation of Native youth ages 14-24 years old. They were facilitated by Peer Guides from each of the four time zones. The Town Halls featured Native youths’ responses to a series of questions posed to tribal leaders in a previous tribal consultation sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). These questions are included in the current report. Native youth in every region expressed the importance to them of community connectedness and the traditional sense of belonging as being critical to their feeling safe in their communities. Elders are viewed as having a vital role in creating community safety for Native youth and tribal communities. The youth referenced the Covid-19 pandemic in their responses In every region; multiple youths emphasized the importance of public health guidelines in preventing the spread of the pandemic. Although not all Native youth felt safe in the presence of their communities’ police officers, they recognized law enforcement and community commitment to public safety as integral to their feeling safe in their communities. Native youth also believe that cultivating a safe, culturally centered space to acknowledge past trauma is vital in preparing future Native leaders. Other issues addressed in Native youths’ responses were transportation to school in remote areas, lack of student resources, no Internet for remote schooling, language barriers, and switching from reservation schools to public schools. Action recommendations are included for youth in the promotion of public safety.