BY Kristin Butler / Indian Country Today Media Network / 14 NOVEMBER 2016

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Today a couple hundred youth from across the State of New Mexico and the southwest are descending on Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino, on the Pueblo of Pojoaque, just 15 miles north of Santa Fe, for the second YES!, Youth Entrepreneurship Summit.

The first YES! conference designed for Native high school and college-aged students interested in business and entrepreneurship, took place at last year’s regional Reservation Economic Summit (RES) New Mexico, in November 2015.

YES! is a collaboration between the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) and nonprofit The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (National Center). RES New Mexico runs concurrently, and continues after YES!, November 14-17, 2016. The parties signed an MOU at RES Las Vegas on March 21, 2016, to guide young entrepreneurs through joint programming. The Indian organizations tie-in youth business training and workshop components to their respective annual gatherings, including RES events and the UNITY midyear and national conferences.

“Last year we had over 200 Native youth — high school and college students — from Native schools in the State of New Mexico, the Pueblos, Navajo Nation, Apache, and so forth. This year we’re expecting an even larger turnout,” Derrick Watchman, National Center chairman, told ICTMN.

At today’s YES! event, which runs from from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST, “emcee one” a.k.a. Marcus Anthony Guinn will lead youth attendees as headline presenter, and motivational speaker Dyami Thomas will galvanize the crowd.

“Dyami is very dynamic and believable; very moving and heartfelt. He’s an energy lifter,” Watchman said.

Guinn is Osage, Potawatomi, Delaware and Puerto Rican. “I come from that unfortunate All-American, alcoholic, abusive, dysfunctional background,” he said. Read his full story at emceeone.com/bio. Check out the below video by emcee one about how young people are often marginalized or ignored, when they actually represent a tremendous influential power. Guinn plays a role in ensuring youth are mobilized, equipped, and focused, so that they are empowered to change the world. “Youth are the future. They are the NOW!” Guinn said.

Guinn serves as an emcee, youth advocate, national speaker, and he’s currently traveling nationally with One Chance Leadership. He works through the Office of Juvenile Justice & UNITY Inc., The White House’s “Generation Indigenous” initiative, and represents nationally as an official DJ for Nike N7 events. Guinn has recorded with EMI in Nashville, Oklahoma, and LA and has three records on iTunes downloaded internationally. His albums have some of the same producers that have worked with Destiny’s Child, KRS-ONE, Dead Pres, Toby Mac, Immortal Technique, Fat Joe, Onyx, Charlie Hall, Mercy Me, JHB, and more.

“I use to think hip-hop was my passion. I later found that my true passion is causing what I like to call ‘eyebrow crunches.’ Eye brow crunches are when that kid in the back of the hall, puts his eye brows together and you can literally see the light bulb flickering on inside. …I work less on telling them what to think, but more instead, ‘how’ they think,” Guinn has said.

Witnessing and experiencing the YES! and RES events can be transformational for Native youth, and potentially lead to real job opportunities.

Watchman recalls attending his first RES 30-plus years ago. “I went to RES ’87 as a college student. I developed a lot of contacts and they helped me get my first job,” Watchman said. “There’s a lot of opportunities to learn and build contacts.”

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