Leaders of the Native American Church of North America or NACNA held multiple meetings with congressional offices this week to advocate that federal funding be dedicated toward efforts to preserve habitats where peyote can be grown. The psychedelic cacti is used in religious ceremonies that are already federally protected, but its supply is limited and NACNA members are asking for assistance to ensure it can remain available for generations to come. While peyote is a Schedule I controlled substance, the church has been permitted to cultivate, harvest and use the cacti under a 1994 congressional amendment.
The American Indian College Fund selected and trained 11 new student ambassadors for its 2022-23 cohort. Now in its eighth year, the College Fund Student Ambassador Program gives Indigenous students the leadership and communications skills to create greater visibility of Native Americans and an understanding of the importance of their diverse cultures. College Fund student ambassadors represent the College Fund and their institutions in media interviews, at cultural events, in their communities, and on their campuses. Student ambassadors also receive advocacy training to help them spearhead action for issues impacting Native communities.
Native American students are among the most underrepresented in computer science. Amazon Future Engineer is committing two and a quarter million dollars to engage 10,000 Indigenous students in computer science by 2025. Indigenous youth face significant barriers to accessing computer science (CS) instruction and opportunities in schools on Native American reservations. In turn, the lack of a robust CS curriculum for K-12 students has created a concerning educational disparity. Through the program, Amazon has announced the monetary commitment to support INDIGITIZE a new initiative created in partnership with The One Gen Fund to support school districts in New Mexico, Arizona, South Dakota, and other areas by 2025.