Canku Ota Logo
Canku Ota
Canku Ota Logo
(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
pictograph divider
Dahkota Brown Leads the Way!
by Vincent Medina - News from Native California

Wilton Miwok youth leader, Dahkota Brown, has been an outspoken activist for Native rights this past year. He gave an especially articulate interview to MSNBC on Native mascots in August. His non-profit NERDS (Native Education Raising Dedicated Students) is doing great work.

Sam White Swan-Perkins (TsaLaGi/Siksika) caught up with Dahkota to talk about his recent trip to Washington, D.C. for the White House Tribal Nations Conference. We extend our gratitude to Sam for his thoughtful and powerful interview with Dakotah, and we congratulate Dakotah on his leadership and vision for a society without degrading and racist sport team names.

Dahkota, can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown

I am 16 years old and a proud California Miwok enrolled with the Wilton Rancheria and attend Argonaut High School in Jackson, CA. I am in the middle of my junior. year. Apart from being an active student athlete, performing with our advanced drama, maintaining a 4.1 GPA and working hard as the elected Associated Student Body Treasurer, I am also the founder and president of my own nonprofit organization, NERDS! Native Education Raising Dedicated Students started in 2012 while I was in 8th grade to help a few struggling friends pass the 8th grade and make our high school football team by maintaining the required GPA. Please see for more information.

I consider myself an activist in the fight against the use of Native mascots and love public speaking.

I currently serve on the Center for Native American Youth’s executive board after completing a two year term as a Champion for Change on their youth advisory board. I was named one of UNITY’s 25 Under 25 and continue to serve this year as a mentor to others and I am a member of NCAI Youth Cabinet. I most recently was selected as one of two to represent my home state of California for the United States Senate Youth Program this coming March.

I am also a traditional dancer for my tribe and love to hunt and fish and spend time with my family. I bead for fun and to make gifts for others. I hope to attend Stanford University, but will apply to several top colleges all over.

Did you have a particular issue that you are focusing on?
Through my non-profit organization NERDS, Native Education Raising Dedicated Students, we focus mainly on the devastating statistics that follow Native teens and improving them in any way possible. The biggest issue we focus on is striving for higher education amongst our Native youth. Native American teens have the highest dropout rate, the lowest graduation rate, and the least numbers represented in college. As a peer-to-peer mentoring and tutoring program, we strive to create a safe, healthy, and happy environment for students while also providing them with a resource in which they can improve their grades and get on the path for higher education.

What was the purpose of the trip to Washington, D.C.?
My trip to Washington D.C. in December was for the annual White House Tribal Nations’ Conference. The Tribal Nations’ Conference is held by President Obama and brings together the tribal presidents and chairmen/women from all 566 federally recognized tribes across the nation. This year’s conference was the first that youth were incorporated through the President’s new initiative Generation Indigenous or Gen-I. I was nominated by my Tribal Chairman and proudly, named as one of the Youth Ambassadors for the conference and the inaugural class of Generation Indigenous. We were able to share our ideas and opinions in various breakout sessions with the tribal leaders and government officials. We were able to be heard and give our input to the Tribal Leaders, our Nations leaders and national organizations that represent or support youth.

Was there a particular moment from the D.C. trip that stands out in your memory?
Personally, the moment that stands out most for me during my trip in D.C. as an ambassador was getting to know the other students who were doing amazing things in their own communities. It is always encouraging to know that there are other youth out there improving the communities they live in and creating better futures for not only themselves, but for others around them. Also, hearing the President’s remarks about the conference and his announcement of a tribal youth conference in the coming year was very exciting. I struggle to select only one “best” moment, since I was also selected as one of two to have MTV World follow me and do a documentary on our trip and adventure. It was part of the Rebel Music series and was premiered at the White House Leaders’ Conference. To date it has over 1.5 million views. Something about MTV working with the White House is very cool!!

Do you feel anything was accomplished by going?
I feel as though a lot was accomplished by having youth in attendance. I personally believe that the tribal leaders and government officials who heard us speak and interacted with the youth, truly listened to what we had to say and have considered our ideas and opinions. We are all working together on monthly conference calls to reach other native youth all over and promote the Gen I Program. I think you will see hundreds of Native Youth working together this summer at the 1st White House Native Youth Gathering. We all have something to offer our future, from overcoming racist mascots, to helping overcome suicide within our communities, to raising awareness to save our sacred sites or stopping the XL Pipeline to help save our resources, increasing education and graduation rates while decreasing the abuse of alcohol and drugs, we each brought something unique to discuss and a different passion to share.

Are there any politicians that you were able to network with? Any who might be considered potential allies?
One of the Politicians that I have had the opportunity to connect with on a personal level and already consider an ally is former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan. Senator Dorgan is the founder of the Center for Native American Youth and has been an advocate for Native youth for many years.

We thank Dahkota for his leadership, and we continue to wish him well as he fights for civil rights and justice for Native people. We continue to be amazed by our youth!

pictograph divider

NERDS ~ Native Education Raising Dedicated Students
NERDS was started by Dahkota Franklin Kicking Bear Brown, enrolled member of the Wilton Band of Miwok Indians, in 2011/2012 while in 8th grade. He saw his own family and friends falling behind and withdrawing from school activities as they reached junior high or high school. He also read despairing facts and statics which prompted action!

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 - 2014 of Vicki Williams Barry 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 - 2014 of Paul C. Barry.
All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!