OGDEN -- Tribal and government leaders from around the state came to Ogden to discuss issues viewed from a Native American perspective.
Wednesday's speakers focused on education, underserved rural areas, homeland security and human rights at the fifth annual Native American Summit.
After using the audience to list the positives and negatives of Indian education, Clayton Long challenged each person as a community leader to go back and work on three things from the negatives list to turn into a positive.
"Then the list of positives will take off," said Long, director of bilingual education in San Juan School District.
Long also said helping students connect their education with cultural values will give education more meaning and more direction.
Parental and community involvement in education will go a long way toward closing the achievement gap among Native American students, said Larry Shumway, state superintendant of public instruction.
Shumway said public education is a constitutional promise in Utah to make sure students have a quality education with a relevant curriculum.
While Shumway acknowledged the education system has a lot of work to do as well, he said closing the engagement gap on the part of parents will help a lot. He urged parents to go to parent-teacher conferences, help kids with their homework and read to young children every day.
"Imagine if every parent was as committed as the most committed parents and every chid as hardworking as the most hardworking child. Imagine what could happen," he said.
On the issue of human rights, Native Americans must begin talking to and working with other community members and government bodies to communicate tribal concerns, said keynote speaker Leonard Gorman, executive director of the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission.
Gorman emphasized the difference between human rights and civil rights.
While international leaders recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, Gorman said, there is still work to be done on the state and national levels. Doing the work that would secure human rights for tribal nations is critical, he said.
"It's for our kids and the future," he said.
Today's topics at the summit include economic development, health care and an address from Gov. Gary Herbert.