Freeport McMoran Inc. Provides Funding for UNITY Fire Programming
Thanks to funding provided by Freeport McMoran Inc., UNITY youth leaders, advisors and elders were able to experience the UNITY Fire ceremony and learn about fire keeping duties at the UNITY Midyear Conference held last February in Tempe, Arizona. The UNITY Fire program began in the 1990s at the National UNITY Conference. A Seneca elder, the late Warren Skye, helped to develop what has become a sacred and safe place for cultural sharing and healing for young and old alike.
During the UNITY Midyear Conference, youth councils received training designed to improve their capability to lead, manage, and boost the operational effectiveness of their respective youth councils. Among the leadership training workshops offered, one focused on the development of a ceremony protocol to facilitate the integration of the UNITY Fire into the operations of the UNITY affiliated youth councils. The workshops were led by Sleepyeye LaFromboise, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota and Tonowanda Seneca, his son Eshtakaba LaFromboise and Kevin Bonds, Tule River Indian Tribe, who are all Lead Fire Keepers.
Many of the youth attending the conference, took advantage of the opportunities to serve as Fire Keepers and further learn about the meaning of fire to tribal groups and to share their cultural stories and songs. To further promote cultural wellness activities, Arizona based youth councils gave cultural presentations on each day of the conference. With the $8,000 grant, UNITY will further promote the concept of the UNITY Fire as a cultural wellness program at the National Conference.