Tribal council member Jody Richards, far right, along with Trustin Snap and Lane Hawley perform the ribbon cutting ceremonies at the new Tu-wa-kii-nobi Burns Paiute Youth Center on March 2. (Photo by RANDY PARKS)

Celebration kicked off with ribbon cutting on March 2

By Randy Parks
Burns Times-Herald

Brimming with excitement, the Burns Paiute Tribe officially opened their new youth center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, March 2.

Following a blessing by Ermon Smartt, Tribal Council member Jody Richards, along with youths Trustin Snapp and Lane Hawley, had the honor of snipping the ribbon.

The facility, known as Tu-wa-kii-nobi or “Kid’s House,” is the culmination of several years’ work by tribal and community members.

Tribal Social Services Director Michelle Bradach said they had received a three-year grant in the amount of $297,000 last October and that helped the youth center become a reality. The grant came through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program.

With funding in hand, the Tribal Council then donated the double-wide trailer they had been using as offices, and the re-modeling began.

“We had been dreaming of having a place like this for the kids for several years, along with a gym, and now we have it. The gym is still on the wish list,” Bradach said. “This provides a place for kids to go, gives them something to do and also involves the entire community.”

Tu-wa-kii-nobi is outfitted with a computer lab, video games, craft supplies, ping-pong tables and other toys for kids of all ages.

Bradach added that the center will feature a four-pronged approach involving kids and the community, including a tutoring program, cultural activities, a physical component and language.

Youth Services Coordinator Elise Adams noted that activities at the center would emphasize  Paiute traditions, culture and language. “It’s TLC,” she laughed. “Not only ‘tender, loving care, but also ‘tradition, language and culture.’ ”

Adams said the activities, many in collaboration with the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, are meant to boost the youths’ self-esteem as well as retain the life skills and pride of the Paiute tribe. “And it’s a safe place for the kids, with a positive feeling,” she said.

While Tu-wa-kii-nobi is primarily for the youth, the facility can also be used by the community for activities and events, such as movie nights, language classes and cultural activities. “It can really help unify the community by bringing everyone together in one place,” Bradach said.

Cheyanne First-Raised, 13, said she was looking forward to having a place to hang out with friends as well as a place to play sports.

“We have so much support and everything has just come together really well,” Adams said. “It’s exciting.”

“The Malheur refuge is one community partner and we are looking for more,” Bradach said. “If any programs are interested in collaborating with us, please contact Elise Adams at 541-573-1572.”

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