Native Youth Leadership Summit in Helena offers students opportunities, connections

Mariah Thomas

Echoes of drums filled the Montana Capitol rotunda on Wednesday as the first Native Leadership Youth Summit came to a close. 

Damian Deserley, a member of the Assiniboine Sioux tribe, came to Helena as part of the summit. He took the first half of the week off from his construction job because of an injury, and said he was glad he did. 

“I’ve met a lot of new people,” Deserley said. “I learned how to communicate better.” 

Students with the Montana Native Youth Leadership Summit participate in a friendship dance in the state Capitol rotunda on Wednesday.

THOM BRIDGE, Independent Record

The event, hosted by the Helena Indian Alliance, gave students like Deserley a chance to explore what opportunities are available to them in the future, according to Quincy Bjornberg of the HIA. The summit was hosted in Helena, starting on Sunday and ending Wednesday. 

Bjornberg, the tobacco prevention specialist at HIA and a Chippewa-Cree member, volunteered to help with the summit this week. She’s moving into a position at HIA more focused on youth, and said the

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