Native Youth Elect National Co-Presidents and Regional Representatives at UNITY 2013

More than 1200 Native American youth from throughout the US participated in regional caucus meetings, held elections and selected a national male Co-President and female Co-President during the National UNITY Conference last week in Los Angeles.  UNITY stands for United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc.  Nataanii Hatathlie, 19, Navajo, is the new male Co-President and Dominique Lombardi, 20, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, is the new female Co-President.  They will work with 10 regional reps addressing Native youth issues during the next year as part of the National UNITY Council’s Executive Committee.

Hatathlie from Coalmine, Arizona is currently a student at Stanford University.  Lombardi, from Cherry Valley, California studied at Mt. San Jacinto College.  Both will serve one-year terms.

The UNITY regions are similar to those established by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).  NCAI has twelve regions while the UNITY network has 10 regions.  The following have been elected to represent ten U.S. regions for one-year terms:

  • Claullen Eugene Tillman, 18, Eastern Shoshone, Rocky Mountain Representative
  • Cielo Garcia, 14, Lakota/Rosebud Sioux, Pacific Region Representative
  • Ashley Chinana, 19, Santee Sioux, Great Plains Region Representative
  • Sonny Johnson, 18, Kansas Kickapoo, Southern Plains Representative
  • Sarah Scott, 19, Lummi Nation, Northwest Regional Representative
  • Simon Montelongo, 16, Eastern Band Cherokee, Southeast Regional Representative
  • Alex Toledo, 18, Jemez Pueblo, Southwest Regional Representative
  • Tyler Owens, 18, Akimel O’Odham, Western Regional Representative
  • Aaron Leaureaux, 19, Saginaw Chippewa, Midwest Regional Representative
  • Sassamin Weeden, 19, Mashpee Wampanoag, Northeast Regional Representative

Other conference highlights included the presentation of two $1,000 Golda Cook Scholarships.  The scholarships, presented annually, are in memory of Golda Cook who provided key financial support to UNITY in its lean, early years.  The male recipient is Corey Still, Cherokee, who is a recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma and will attend graduate school this fall at Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.  The female recipient is Cheyennena Bedonie, Dine/Blackfeet/Powhatan, who will attend Cypress College this fall in California.

Governor Gregory Mendoza, Gila River Indian Community, received the Edward Wadda UNITY Alumni Award at the Celebration Banquet.  Mendoza has been involved with UNITY since the mid-1980s when he started a youth council and served as coordinator of the youth council.  He is currently a member of UNITY’s Council of Trustees.  The award is named in honor of the late Edward Wadda, Eastern Shoshone, of the Wind River Tribe.  Wadda, who was a tribal liaison to the Governor of Wyoming at the time of his death last year, had also been involved with UNITY since the mid-1980s and re-started the Wind River UNITY Youth Council.

For 37 years the National UNITY Conference has brought Native Youth Leaders to cities all across the United States to participate in a drug and alcohol free setting. The youth led five-day conference included a packed agenda featuring motivational messages.

Speakers and Special Guests included:

  • Saginaw Grant (Lone Ranger), Sac and Fox Tribe
  • Rosemary Morillo, Chairwoman, Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians
  • Tribal Captain Rudy Ortega from the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians
  • Jude Schimmel, Umatilla, Louisville Women’s basketball player
  • Alexandrea Schulte, Northern Ute, Professional Golfer
  • VOXNativa Children’s Choir of Taiwan
  • NAMA Artist of the Year, Tony Duncan, Apache/Arikara/Mandan/Hidatsa Tribes
  • Niki Sandoval, Ph.D., Education Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
  • Honorable Leroy Not Afraid, Crow, Justice of the Peace for the Big Horn Jurisdiction of Harding, Montana
  • Technology expert, Mathew Yazzie, Navajo from San Francisco, California
  • Deborah Parker, Vice Chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes
  • T. Charles Pierson, CEO, Big Brother’s Big Sisters
  • Antoine Edward, Jr. and Butchie Eastman, hand drum/pow wow singers (You Tube Sensations)
  • 1491s Comedy group

Native youth attended workshops that included topics such as Bullying Prevention, Sexual Assault Prevention, use of social media, film making, talking circles, youth leadership and drug abuse.  Other activities included team-building exercises, health and fitness activities, cultural exchange, a celebration banquet, and closing commitment ceremony.

UNITY’s mid-year conference will be held in Washington, D.C. next February.  The 2014 National UNITY Conference will be held in Portland, Oregon.

About UNITY, Inc.

United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native Youth. UNITY's mission is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. UNITY's network currently includes 140 affiliated youth councils in 28 states. Youth Councils are sponsored by Tribes, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges, urban centers, and others.  More information about UNITY can be found at http://www.unityinc.org.
 


The Honorable Leroy Not Afraid, Crow, (far left) conducted the swearing in ceremony for members of the National UNITY Council Executive Committee last week in Los Angeles.  Those being sworn in include (L to R): Nataani Hatathlie, Dominique Lombardi, Sonny Johnson, and Claullen Tillman.