Leadership Development

Train emerging leaders and engage our members


Leadership Development

We use a culturally relevant community organizing model to train emerging leaders and engage our members. Our training is tailored to meet the needs of attendees: our customized training shares the principles and best practices of community organizing concerning all indigenous identities.

We recruit, hire and train interns from the tribal colleges and universities, conduct one-on-one interviews with potential Native American leaders to assess interests and skills, and host leadership development conferences and training to expand and deepen the leadership pool in Indian Country. We aim to have leaders equipped to address issues in our communities from the tribal government to the federal government and engage allies in our movements.

Our Program

  • Identifies and trains the new generation of Native leaders
  • Builds a circle of leaders from Native communities
  • Cultivates a strong base of civic leaders and public servants in Native communities
  • Build relationships with other organizations working for racial, social, environmental, and economic justice. We partner with Native and non-Native, nations and urban, and local, national and regional organizations​
  • Fosters a national coalition to increase leadership in Indian Country


Expanding Horizons

January 12-14, 2023 | Billings, Montana

Expanding Horizons is a student-driven, Western Native Voice (WNV) steered program, which brings together high school students from across Montana to champion the preservation of tribal identity and culture and foster relationships between tribal and urban Native Americans. Historically, “Kill the Indian save the man,” coined by Army officer Richard Pratt, who created the first boarding school at Carlisle Indian School, sought to dismantle Native American identity and heritage. Western Native Voice provides a modern solution to a long historical issue; we know we cannot reverse generational trauma and its causes. However, we aim to give a start to unity and identity. At the same time, WNV seeks to provide educational opportunities and invest in the next generation.

Western Native Voice seeks to educate students about government processes and how they can affect change in their communities, state, and nation. The program aligns with WNV’s four core programs: Leadership Development, Education, Civic Engagement, and Advocacy.

Fifteen scholarships will be awarded to Montana indigenous high school students.

Deadline to apply for a scholarship is December 8, 2022.

For more information, click here.

Voice of Change Award Recipients

Lewellyn (Greg) Dawes incrediblyrespecially

Lodge Grass

-Lewellyn (Greg) Dawes, a graduate of Lodge Grass High School, has faced various obstacles in his life, from homelessness to addiction, and has preserved through it all. In school, Lewellyn is a leader and mentor who teachers robotics to K-12 students. Lewellyn recently shared his story and goals at the 2nd Annual Indigenous Movements Interchange in Great Falls. Lewellyn brings deep insight and humor to all of his projects and initiatives. Lewellyn will attend Montana State University - Bozeman in the fall. Congratulations Greg!

Chase Comes At Night incrediblyrespecially


Chase, a graduate from Skyview High School in Billings, served on the District 2 Billings Schools Tribal Council, a council comprised of Native American students from the 3 Billings public high schools. Chase, along with other Native American students from across Montana, testified in support of Senate Bill 319, also known as the Regalia Bill, a law which protects the right for individuals to wear tribal regalia and objects of culture significance at public events such as high school graduation. He shared his Regalia Bill experience and voice at the 1st Annual Indigenous Movements Interchange conference while on the youth voices panel. Chase plans on attending the University of Montana and will study law. Congratulations Chase!

Lynell Shepherd incrediblyrespecially


Lynell, an incoming senior at Big Sky High School, was selected as a recipient of a Voice of Change award for her work in starting the Native Youth Council (NYC). NYC was created to enhance culture, academics and identity by creating a collective voice empowering Native youth in our communities. NYC works in collaboration with the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center (MUIHC) and with the support of the Missoula County Public Schools Indian Education for All program. Lynell’s goal as a leader is to inspire all Native Youth, to be young leaders in their communities and to have them be confident in not only themselves but in their peers about making decisions in their community. She says “making a decision is hard, especially for youth, but if you have your peers and the confidence to make a strong, important decision, that’s what gives you the confidence to become a strong leader. Becoming a leader takes time, practice, and hard work, but anybody can do it.” Congratulations Lynell!

Noah Berthelson incrediblyrespecially


Noah, a Junior at Browning High School, has been selected for his organizing work within the March for Our Lives movement. Noah, then a sophomore at BHS, planned a walkout at his school and said more than 80 percent of people who voted in his poll said they would join him.

Berthelson said the walkout was important in order to bring awareness to mental health, as well as encourage policy reform from lawmakers. "If we can band together and really work towards this, we can help alleviate the crisis of school shootings," said Noah. Congratulations Noah!