Intergenerational Call to Action for Earth Advocates
Continuing the legacy of environmental advocates, the 2019-2020 Circle of Earth Ambassadors included intergenerational teachings to engage UNITY Youth Councils in service projects. Community elders and UNITY alumni participation was made possible through the financial support of a a National Park with an initiative “Connecting with Our Homelands” to foster intergenerational sharing through Hopa Mountain, Inc. Generations of Earth Ambassadors gathered to launch this year’s environmental call to action.
The 2019 National UNITY conference hosted in Orlando, Florida was attended by many, but of note were the ten Circle of Earth Ambassadors (EAs). The Earth Ambassadors were introduced Friday July 5 at the afternoon general session, by emcees Rory Wheeler and Sonwai Wakayuta, 2017-2018 EAs.
Hunter Genia, UNITY Fire Keeper, Tribal Leader and Councilman of the Saginaw Creek, Black river Bands of Chippewa and original member of the 1991 Circle of EAs compellingly addressed the Native Youth about standing strong for Native lands and resources, then challenged everyone to take care of Mother Earth.
The New Circle of EAs presented on their personal environmental platforms ranging from restoring indigenous foods to large clean ups of rivers and oceans to recycling and zero waste lifestyles. They announced a “Call to Action” to all youth councils, asking them to develop a project for 50th celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2010.
Pearl Yellowman, Navajo and Eileen Pike, White Mountain Apache, also, members of the 1991’s Circle of EA’s presented each new Earth Ambassador a beautiful wood carved medallion with a beaded necklace.
Earth Ambassadors hosted workshops with special guests. Elders, Lynn Toledo, Pueblo of Jemez and Gary Charwood, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in keeping with the Hopa Mountain, Inc. initiative, shared the importance of learning to culturally care for the environment. Frank Weaver, filmmaker and Earth Ambassador mentor, presented videos to advocate for change. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Youth Council presented their initiative for protection of grasslands to preserve wild rice. The EA’s presented as well as they shared their personal environmental platforms and engaged the audience with questions and answers.
Earth Ambassadors plan to work with the National UNITY Council Executive Committee and Representatives to campaign for environmental projects for Earth Day 2020. EAs are reaching out to elders in their communities to learn teachings about caring for indigenous resources. They plan to develop an initiative to encourage UNITY youth to approach elders and tribal leaders to carry forward traditional ways. Plans are in place to host a Virtual Conference or Webinar in the near future.
Samuel Lopez, Earth Ambassador from Tohono O’odham Nation said, ” Elders play an important role for our communities. Learning the values and history of the places we call home from them. And to take those teaching beyond our communities into the places where a sense of cultural identity is needed.”
UNITY hopes that the EAs will attend the 2020 Midyear and another environmental excursion. UNITY is seeking a sponsor for the 2019-2020 Earth Ambassador program.