Native American Teens: Who We Are

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Native American Teens: Who We Are

What's it like to be a young Native American today? In this new In the Mix special, teens from cities and reservations throughout the United States share their lives, problems and solutions. Shot around the country, the program features profiles of accomplished teens, short films made by young Native Americans, and insightful discussion with a group of young leaders.

Hosts Litefoot and Christina The special is hosted by Native American rap artist and film actor Litefoot (Cherokee), along with Dartmouth film major Christina Douglas (Shinnecock) at the Mashantucket Pequot reservation in Connecticut. Litefoot appears at the celebration as part of his "Reach the Rez" tour, and in the program, viewers learn about the year-long tour's messages of hope and empowerment for Native American youth (

Lacrosse playersWe meet 15-year-old lacrosse player Kori Hafltown and his exciting play, and on the Seneca Cattaragus reservation in Western New York, learn about the deep roots of lacrosse in Native American culture as well as how traditional lacrosse sticks are made. On the Shoshone-Bannock reservation in Fort Hall, Idaho, we meet award-winning musician Hovia Edwards, a young flute player who's carrying on a tradition passed down from her father that was once only reserved for boys and men.

Hovia playing the flute

"Native American Teens...Who We Are" also features several short films made by Native American teens to express their lives. Swinomish youth in Washington State dramatize teens at-risk on the reservation, with a strong message about making positive choices. From Anchorage, Alaska, we see the unique and fun Native American Youth Olympics in which teens compete in sports based on traditional Inuit activities like carrying game and jumping between ice flows. Throughout the program, we hear from a group of teens in Buffalo, New York, at the annual UNITY Conference, a gathering of Native American youth leaders and activists from all over the country. They weigh in on the issues that affect them everyday, including common misconceptions and stereotypes about Native Americans, how they balance traditional culture with contemporary concerns, and their hopes for the future.

Did You Know?
  • There are an estimated 4.4 million Native Americans, including those of more than one race. They make up 1.5% of the total American population. (US Census Bureau)

  • There are about 150 Native American languages in the United States and Canada. About 381,000 people speak a native language at home.(US Census Bureau)

  • About one-third of Native Americans live on reservations. The rest live in cities and town across the United States.(US Diplomatic mission to Germany)

  • There are more than 550 federally recognized tribes in the United States, including 223 village groups in Alaska.
    (Bureau of Indian Affairs)

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NAPT logoFunding for this special was provided by Native American Public Telecommunications (NAPT). The program is regularly re-broadcast on PBS affiliates across the country. Please check our schedule for airtimes.