UNITY’s mission it 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 involvement of its youth.” In keeping with its mission, UNITY has served the leadership needs of American Indian and Alaska Native youth for 40 years. UNITY is a national organization with over 160 youth councils operating in 36 states and Canada. These youth councils represent thousands of Native American youth.
UNITY began through the efforts of J.R. Cook, a Cherokee from Oklahoma, who has worked with Native youth in leadership development for more than three decades. The organization grew from a small group of interested Indian youth in southwestern Oklahoma in 1976 to a national organization today with affiliated youth councils operating in 35 states and Canada.
UNITY evolved from a series of Indian programs that Cook directed. After a successful basketball coaching stint, Cook devoted a decade of his life to the Upward Bound project at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. At that time, it seemed to Cook there was more pressure for Indian youth to fail than to succeed. Read More