About UNITY – UNITY, Inc.

UNITY Origin and Development

 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

Catching up with UNITY Founder J.R. Cook

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. J.R. stepped down as Executive Director in 2013 to focus on writing about UNITY’s history. J.R. agreed to share more about himself and answer some questions about UNITY. Read More

UNITY TO CELEBRATE 40 YEARS ON APRIL 16

In the 1970’s, Cherokee math teacher and coach, J. R. Cook (pictured) was working as the director of one of the nation’s largest Upward Bound programs at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. He saw a lot of potential in American Indian youth, but knew that in order to combat critical issues facing youth, a comprehensive organizational approach was needed.

His vision was to provide positive alternatives to the harmful influences of negative peer pressure, drug and alcohol abuse, high dropout and unemployment rates and high incidence of suicide, so on April 16, 1976, United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. was born.

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UNITY Quick Facts

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 Defined: UNITY is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native American youth.

UNITY has a long (40+ years) and impressive track record of empowering and serving American Indian and Alaska Native youth. UNITY is well regarded among the nation’s Native American organizations, tribal leaders, and government officials.
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Thank You JR!

JR Cook has stepped aside as UNITY’s executive director, a position he held since the organization’s birth in 1976. When announcing the transition, JR said, “It’s been quite a journey. I thank the Creator and everyone who has been involved with and helped make UNITY into an organization I’m proud of and have been privileged to serve. I thank Mary Kim Titla, our incoming executive director, for her many years of participation in UNITY; first as a college student, then in various leadership and supportive roles, and now for her willingness to accept the challenge to lead during difficult times. I’m confident that UNITY’s leadership has passed into capable hands.”

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UNITY Video

This four minute video describes some of UNITY’s efforts to address important issues of concern to Native youth.

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