2020 UNITY Virtual Conference Continues with Second Live Session
The July 9 session will feature special guest speakers and cultural presentations
UNITY will continue its first-ever virtual national conference with its second general session on Thursday, July 9, at 10 a.m. PST. This second live session will feature prominent speakers, including rapper and singer/songwriter Taboo (Shoshone) of the Black Eyed Peas, Miss Native USA Lexie James (Tewa/Hopi), visual artist Bunky Echo-Hawk (Pawnee/Yakama), and others. The traditional UNITY fire and UNITY drum will also be a part of the session, along with cultural presentations and workshops.
“Even though we’re unable to meet in person for a traditional conference, UNITY is pleased to offer outstanding programming for our Native youth, in an online format,” said UNITY Executive Director Mary Kim Titla. “Our guest speakers are inspirational, and our sessions are both educational and entertaining.”
In addition to the guest speaker presentations, Juanita Toledo (Jemez Pueblo) will moderate a discussion on “Black Lives Matter – How it Resonates with Native Americans,” with panelists Mona Scott (Navajo), Dr. Thomasene Gilliam Chupco (Seminole), and Anthony Tamez-Pochel (Cree and Lakota). Attendees can also complete workshops online and view the Business Plan Competition’s video entries, sponsored by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development.
After the July 9 general session, the conference will continue with a cultural talent showcase on July 14, and regional caucuses on July 15 and 16. Registration for the UNITY Virtual Conference is free. Those wishing to participate can register online here.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
Jaime Luis Gomez, known professionally as Taboo, is of Shoshone descent and is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, and DJ, best known as a member of the internationally-renowned hip hop group The Black Eyed Peas.
Singer-songwriter, Poet, Actress, 2x New York Times Best Selling Author + Mental Health Expert
Jewel went from a girl who grew up with no running water on an Alaskan homestead to a homeless teenager in San Diego, to an award-winning, Multi-Platinum Recording Artist who released one of the best-selling debuts of all time.
Through her career Jewel has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, earned 26 Music Award nominations, including The Grammys, American Music Awards, MTV Awards, VH1 Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Country Music Awards, winning 8 times. Jewel has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, Rolling Stone, performed on Saturday Night Live, at the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, for The Pope and The President Of The United States. She has experimented with several genres over her career with top hits in Folk, Pop, Club, Country, Standards, Children’s, and Holiday music.
Mental health and mindfulness have been a lifelong passion of Jewel’s. She offers free mindfulness exercises and an online mental health community at JewelNeverBroken.com.
2020 marks a momentous year for Jewel — she is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her multi-platinum debut album, “Pieces of You” with an exclusive Anniversary package of the album to be released later this year by Craft Recordings. It will give listeners a vivid insider’s look at how this album came to be, collecting all relevant rarities and previously unissued tracks in one place. In addition, Jewel has been hard at work on a new studio album and a forthcoming book. Both will be released next year with a live tour to support.
Kyle Bell is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker whose films have been screened at festivals around the world. He was selected for the 2019 Sundance Institute Native Filmmakers Lab, and most recently won the 2020-21 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, to be mentored by cinema legend Spike Lee.
Radmilla Cody is a Grammy-nominated musician who has won multiple Native American Music Awards, is one of NPR’s 50 great voices, 46th Miss Navajo Nation, a Black History Maker honoree, and an advocate against domestic abuse and violence. She is the subject of the award-winning documentary “Hearing Radmilla,” which explores her journey as an activist and international performer.
Bunky Echo-Hawk is an internationally known visual artist whose work is featured in gallery and museum exhibitions throughout the U.S. and overseas. As a live painter, he has performed in major venues throughout the country. He has worked with Nike and recently partnered with Pendleton Woolen Mills to create a blanket for the American Indian College Fund. Through his art and strategic partnerships, he has aided in raising millions of dollars for Indian Country.
Lexie James, Miss Native USA, is Corn Clan from the Village of Tewa and an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe located in the Northeastern region of Arizona. While serving as MNAUSA, James has chosen to focus on mental health wellness and suicide prevention in Indian Country. She is currently employed as a youth liaison for the Hopi Opportunity Youth Initiative. When she is not traveling or working, she dedicates part of her time to serving as a board member for the non-profit Three Precious Miracles.
Cheyenne Kippenberger, Miss Indian World, is a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and her family is of the Panther Clan. She is the proud chairwoman of “Healing the Circle in Our Tribal Communities Symposium” of the Native Learning Center. As Miss Indian World, Cheyenne strives to bring awareness to the strength and resilience of Native American and Indigenous Peoples, help destigmatize mental health, and put forth efforts in gaining quality representation in the media for Native American and Indigenous people globally. Having been strongly inspired by Congresswomen Sharice Davids and Deb Halaand, Cheyenne, who earned an associate degree in accounting from Keiser University, will pursue an additional degree in political science.
Juanita Christine Toledo is of African and Native American ancestry. She is an enrolled tribal member of Walatowa, the Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico. She’s a former member of the UNITY-affiliated youth council, Native American Youth Empowerment (NAYE), and a former member of the National UNITY Council Executive Committee. Juanita advocates for community and personal health and wellness and continues to push for the spiritual, social, mental, and physical well-being of her people. Juanita is an advisor and advocate for Native Youth through the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) organization, serves an AIO Ambassador for the Americans for Indian Opportunity, and models for Indigenous fashion designers. She is passionate about positive youth development, creative expression, personal wellness, and the raising of human consciousness. Juanita also served as a National UNITY Council Co-President as a youth.
Anthony’s background as a Cree and Lakota has influenced his efforts to serve his community in Chicago. Through land-based education, Anthony works to ensure that the community does not lose its connection to the land, and helps community members plant medicine gardens in their own backyards to maintain that connection. Anthony began his involvement with the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) in 2015, serving as a Youth Ambassador for President Obama’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative. In 2018, he was recognized by CNAY as a Champion for Change for his initiative aimed at confronting the misconceptions about Native peoples in Chicago and around the country and he currently services on CNAY’s Youth Advisory Board. Anthony is currently attending Harold Washington where he is studying Public Policy and Social Work While working for the City of Chicago as an Aldermanic Aide with a focus on ordinances, Local Businesses, and Youth Projects.