In celebration of Earth Day, in collaboration with the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), UNITY will announce its 2021 Class of Earth Ambassadors during the NMAI Youth in Action Live broadcast. UNITY Earth Ambassador and 25 Under 25 Awardee Marco Ovando (Shoshone-Paiute Tribes), Kelsey Ducheneaux-Scott (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe) and Jack Pashano (Hopi) will also discuss the role traditional ecological knowledge plays in their work as farmers and entrepreneurs.
“To me, being an environmental ambassador means advocating for my tribal sacred lands. I believe the communities needs come before my needs, and without our lands we would not have a place to call home. In Santo Domingo, we face many environmental issues like: drought which affects our river and farmers; invasive species like salt cedars which have taken over the Rio Grande valley; and illegal dumping which results in pollution of our lands. My home lands and its people are what made me who I am and who raised me to be the woman I am today so I cannot imagine life without my Pueblo environment.” – Lanell Chavez, Santo Domingo Pueblo, New Mexico
Many may know Scottie Miller (Swinomish, Washington) as the funny, lovable Northwest Wellness Warrior or the wise Male Co-President of the National UNITY Council, but in his down town this leader makes time to play an active role in his community’s environmental team in Swinomish. “All UNITY youth should take a stand to protect and advocate for environmental issues whenever possible. It is very important to lead by example as an ambassador” says Scottie.
“Being environmental ambassador is taking up a platform to represent your tribe in the issues you are facing. More Native youth are needed to engage in discussions with others, that may or may not have the same problems as your community, to learn from each other and brainstorm solutions. As an environmental ambassador is that it is your job to discuss and teach other people within your tribe about the environment and what effects it is having on where you live. Native youth voices can have an impact on our environment.” – Mahala Rain Billie-Osceola, Seminole Tribe of Florida Read More
“As a UNITY youth, when I think of being an Earth Ambassador, I think about being a voice for the earth and its inhabitants. I also believe that being an Earth advocate is more than the physical thinking of society, it is something that is spiritual and emotional for an individual to connect to Mother Earth in that way. We are leaders, not like the political ones, but ones that live within the community and try to make their difference by means of environmental awareness.” – Samantha E.Yazzie, Navajo Nation, Arizona
Mesa, Az – United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) has announced that the application process is now open for the 2021 cohort of its Earth Ambassadors Leadership Program. The environmental stewardship program, established in the 1990s, engages Native American and Alaska Native youth in training sessions and informational workshops to increase their knowledge of environmental issues affecting Native America, learn to serve as ambassadors to increase awareness of the issues affecting the environmental quality on Native lands, and promote efforts to address environmental concerns within the nation’s Native communities representatives and lawmakers.
APPLICATION DEADLINE is March 5, 2021, at 5:00 p.m. MST. Read More
Meet Evelyn Vega-Simpson: Through serving as the Media Coordinator for the Tulalip Youth Council, 16 year old Evelyn has developed excellent public speaking skills while being comfortable in front of a crowd. “I have developed problem solving skills, and have good communication skills” she explained. Evelyn found her true calling for leadership through her community service work preserving the environment. As the Chair of the Environment Committee, Evelyn would like to change the way Tulalip Tribes recycle. Another goal for her is to work with her Tribal Board of Directors to install more solar panels. Read More
Written by: Regina A. Jones, Alyssa’s Advisor and Assistant Director of the Native Student Program at Syracuse University
“A responsibility that I believe would come with being an environmental ambassador is connecting with people to share and link knowledge and ideas across fields of knowledge, such as modern science and traditional ecological knowledge to inform and mobilize communities across the globe. A third aspect of being an environmental ambassador would be to develop processes, programs, and/or initiatives to create a more environmentally sustainable way of life for all people now and in the future.” – Alyssa Franklin, Seneca Nation, New York