Farmington — It started as a status update on Facebook to see if local youth were interested in forming an organization to share their viewpoints about social issues affecting their lives.

The result is Rising Youth Awareness, which formed this year and continues using social media to communicate and share ideas.

"We started collaborating right away and organizing," said Keioshiah Peter, 21, who established the group with Tristin Moone, 22.

Working through social media, the group was able to organize the Rising Native Youth Awareness Community Forum, which will take place Saturday at the Healing Circle Drop-In Center in Shiprock.

The purpose of the forum is to create a safe space for native youth to engage in conversations about issues affecting indigenous communities and individuals.

Discussion will cover a number of topics, including identity, gender, blood quantum, health disparities, human rights and environmental justice.

"Ultimately, we're bringing a voice to the youth," said Peter, who lives in Kirtland.

Another goal Peter and Moone would like to accomplish is developing the youth voice within the realm of Navajo politics. They are working with other youth, including Farmington resident Logan Sandoval, 21; Page, Ariz., resident Courtney Rocke, 21; and Kirtland resident Myacah Sampson, 18.

They voiced concern that a lot of Native American tribes lack the youth voice, especially at the official level.

They are also concerned about the youth voice being suppressed or not taken seriously, and they hope to reverse that situation.

"I think all of us (who) are working on this and organizing are critically thinking about the youth role, especially in our own nation," said Moone, who is from Beclabito.

Sampson graduated from Kirtland Central High School in May and was involved with student activism. She said her peers discussed issues like suicide prevention and body image.

"You see native students, and they're passionate, they're upset, they're angry and they want to change things," Sampson said. "They just want to know who their allies are and what their resources are, and this is a great opportunity for them to network and find out who's there for them," she said.

The group is planning to use Google Hangout to broadcast the forum online and post updates on Twitter @risingn8vyouth.


What: Rising Native Youth Community Forum

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Healing Circle Drop-In Center, which is the old Navajo Tribal Utility Authority building. It is located behind the Wells Fargo Bank in Shiprock.

Cost: Free

More info: Contact Keioshiah Peter or Tristin Moone at or go to Rising Native Youth Facebook page, at

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.