Since inception, the Johnson Scholarship Foundation has invested in the lives Indigenous Peoples. Our Founder believed they got a “raw deal” and thought it fair to give back to the communities and people who – through no fault of their own – do not have the same opportunities for success. For over 25 years, Native communities have proved themselves well worth the investment. Here’s why we believe others should consider investing, too:
There’s Great Opportunity
Indigenous Peoples can sometimes be referred to as the “Invisible People” or the “asterisk nation” because in national surveys, Indigenous Peoples either fail to be represented, or are represented by a * indicating the population is too small to survey. However, the National Congress of American Indians reports:
- The total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) population (including people who identify with a combination of other races) is 5.2 million or 1.7% of the US population.
- About 32 percent of Natives are under the age of 18, compared to only 24% of the total population who are under the age of 18. The median age for American Indians and Alaska Natives on reservations is 26, compared to 37 for the entire nation.
- The AIAN population from birth through age 24 makes up 42 percent of the total AIAN population; whereas the under 25 population for the United States is only 34 percent of the total population.
Needless-to-say, these statistics indicate that Indigenous youth are a notable portion of the population and there is both great opportunity and need for investment in them.
They Have Much to Teach Us
Indigenous students have seen their communities endure hardship and change in the face of the progression of modern society. But they’ve also experienced the traditions of their tribes and have become passionate culture-bearers among the threat of dying cultures. They’ve become advocates for the cultures and their futures, threading a positive narrative about Indigenous communities while still challenging and cultivating change. The narrative of native youth is one of hope and resilience. It is one that is dedicated to serving its people and preserving its culture. We all can learn a great deal from Native youth.
Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) is a Native youth initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed. It gives a voice to Native youth and encourages them to use their talents, creativity and education to benefit their communities and culture. So far, Native youth have jumped at the opportunity to engage with positive solutions in their communities and society.
Investing in Indigenous students equips them with the skill and knowledge necessary to implement change and influence culture. It is a way to empower them and indicate faith in their ability to make a difference.
For more information on JSF Indigenous Peoples investments, visit our website.