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Red Lake holds second youth conference

RED LAKE -- From Wednesday morning to Friday evening, hundreds of young people gathered at Red Lake High School for the second annual Honor the Youth Leadership Conference.

RED LAKE -- From Wednesday morning to Friday evening, hundreds of young people gathered at Red Lake High School for the second annual Honor the Youth Leadership Conference.

The conference drew American Indian youth from Red Lake, White Earth, Leech Lake and First Nations people in Canada with the theme "Rekindle the Warrior Spirit.

Speakers from native communities around the United States and Canada led the sessions. The conference was sponsored by the Red Lake School District, Tribal Council and Warrior Down Program.

Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain Jr. explained that Warrior Dow is a program to train young people in intervention with other youth who are in crisis.

"The concept is like a fallen feather," Jourdain said. "That's when all the other warriors come to their assistance and pick them up."

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Her noted that Red Lake young people have gone through some difficult times in recent years.

"We want to replace those bad memories with good ones," Jourdain said.

Conference coordinator Jeri Brunoe, a Wasco Nation member of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Ore., said the warrior philosophy requires warriors, ogichidaag in Ojibwe, to be a protector and serve other people, as well as themselves.

The conference also stressed chemical-free lifestyles, living in peace, education, native languages and traditions. Students also competed in "Rez Jeopardy," a quiz game based on knowledge of Ojibwe language and culture, and an All Native American High School Basketball Tournament. There was also entertainment by a hypnotist, and a hip-hop dance concert to bring the conference to a close.

Student Council Treasurer Kayla Neadeau said this year's youth leadership conference was held during school days, rather than on a weekend. She said the organizers added more cultural activities this year, too. For example, in a wellness program they learned about natural medicine and "the more traditional way to heal our people." They also had hands-on opportunities, such as building a hand drum.

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