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This Native American teen was honored by the White House

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Recently, the White House organized the first-ever  Girls Leading Change celebration, which featured a young Native American from Arizona. First Lady Jill Biden welcomed 15 young women from 13 states to the nation’s capital in October.

“And the girls on this stage are using their voices to change their communities and shine a light on issues that are often overlooked,” said Dr. Biden during the event that occurred on the International Day of the Girl.

The 17-year-old Gabriella Nakai is Navajo, Choctaw and the only Indigenous honoree among them. She’s a seed saver, student government leader and an advocate for food security and sustainability.

“Being the only Native person, I feel like I have like a big responsibility to represent Native America, well,” Nakai told KJZZ News, “but also, it’s really exciting to be able to represent like so many different cultures by just being one person.”

Nakai is also one of five 2023 Champions for Change at the Aspen Institute’s Center for Native American Youth. Now, the Arcadia High School senior is sending out her college applications.

Gabriel Pietrorazio is a correspondent who reports on tribal natural resources for KJZZ.