Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 29, 2002 - Issue 64


pictograph divider


Indian Youth Project Honored as a National Model

by Zsombor Peter Staff Writer Gallup Independent
credits: Photos by Bradley DeHaan, of Project Venture, provided by NIYLP
GALLUP, NM - What started as a single camp program for Native American youth some 20 years ago now serves thousands of students in the area with similar programs copying its formula throughout the country.

On June 7, as a crowning confirmation of the National Indian Youth Leadership Project's success at steering its charges away from their community's social ills, the federal government recognized it as among the nation's leading prevention programs and the most effective at working with Native American youth.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Substance Abuse Prevention honored the NIYLP with its Exemplary Substance Abuse Prevention Programs Award after conducting its annual evaluation of 48 similar programs nationwide.

"The award really establishes us as a national presence," says the program's founder and Executive Director, McClellan Hall.

Along with the prestige of the award, the NIYLP will have its name placed on a federally administered menu of prevention programs from which other groups can solicit advice on implementing their own prevention programs.

Placed on a similar state-level menu along with its recognition by the state Legislature in 1999, the NIYLP has already spawned seven prevention programs across New Mexico that have adopted its model and hosted a November, 2000 training session for them in Santa Fe. And this past February it hosted another training session for the 18 programs following its lead nationwide, from Hawaii to Alaska to North Carolina, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Hall also hopes to leverage the national recognition into more funding. "In the future, funding will only go to programs that have proven themselves," he notes. "People who get results get funding and those who don't, don't get funding — that's what it comes down to."

He attributes much of the program's success to their detailed and scientific evaluation process and an evaluation team they've had in place since 1990 that lets them make the most of their ongoing self-improvement.

Despite what the title of the award might suggest, Hall says the NIYLP was not originally conceived as a prevention program. "It's really not what we call prevention at all; it's really about positive youth development."

Still, he recognizes the overlap of prevention and his brand of development. "By focusing on the positive things that are out there for kids, it helps keep them out of trouble ... but our main goal is developing positive young people."

Before starting the Gallup-based program in 1986, Hall was a "frustrated teacher" at an alternative Cherokee Nation high school in Stillwell, Okla., who felt his job was not allowing him to reach enough students. Starting out with a summer camp and a handful of students, Hall's work grew from there with the help of federal grants and community demand for a year-
round program that now hosts some 3,000 students annually.

While it still operates a summer program on its 1,200-acre ranch by Mt. Taylor, Hall says the NIYLP's most popular program is Project Venture, which meets several times a week for canoeing, bicycling, rock climbing and other outdoor activities.

Hall admits to pressure to focus on academics, but says, "there are different approaches to learning, so we try to give kids a break from what's going on in school ... and we know that enrichment activities do improve academics."

That pressure he says comes in part from the school district, with which it is contracted to run the A+ after-school program that combines academics for its elementary students with enrichment activities.

As a sign of the NIYLP's steady growth, the A+ program has recently expanded to the district's middle schools as well.

Another sign of that growth is the recent addition of the Walking in Beauty program, a year-old effort targeting adolescent girls. The program, says Hall, is a metaphor for the process by which Indian girls traditionally pass into adulthood. "It helps them figure out how to make the best transition from adolescence to being responsible adults," he said.

Although the program hosts mostly Native Americans because of the demographics of the area, Hall says its services are open to all ethnicities.

As a $2 million-a-year operation funded mostly through federal, state and private grants, the NIYLP is also looking for community members to volunteer their time and is always willing to accept donations, which Hall says are fully tax deductible.

National Indian Youth Leadership Project
National Indian Youth Leadership Project's Mission Statement:
- To engage Native youth in challenging activities and meaningful experiences in the community and the natural world, as well as through academic, artistic and athletic performance.
- To honor our youth by preparing them for whole and healthy lives as capable, contributing and caring members of their family, community, tribe, and nation through traditional teachings and values.

Gallup, NM Map
Maps by Travel

pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You