About The UNITY National Conference

The National UNITY Conference is an impactful five-day youth-led annual event held every July in a pre-selected region of the U.S. About 2,500 Native youth and advisors are expected to attend the 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota (July 8 – 12). The National UNITY Conference complete with general sessions, regional caucuses, workshops, career/education fair, and fun evening activities provides hands-on leadership development activities and where the National UNITY Council conducts elections and its annual business meeting. The national conference is a place where Native youth voice is encouraged and valued. All activities are planned with safety in mind.In addition, UNITY offers unique youth programming through its UNITY Fire and UNITY Drum. The UNITY Fire, which burns 24-7 during the annual conference and led by alumni fire keepers, is used for social and prayer purposes and has provided conference attendees an opportunity for support, healing and spiritual nourishment. The fire is meant for all beliefs and religions to share their “Good Medicine” with other participants. The UNITY Drum, also led by alumni, is an open drum with roots in the southern style of powwow singing. All youth singers are encouraged to bring their drumsticks to join in. While youth leaders meet, advisors and adults who work with youth are also involved in intense training and networking activities. Adult training may include building rapport, peer-to-peer sharing, conflict resolution, approaches to youth work, and more.

Affiliated Youth Councils and individual members are eligible for registration discounts. Become a member today!

Guest Presenters

Stephanie goes by Pyet, short for her inherited native american name Pyetwetmokwe.

Pyet is an award winning traveling private chef. She is the first winner of Gordon Ramsay’s new groundbreaking TV show, Next Level Chef, on Fox. In 2021, Pyet was named the seventh best private chef in Los Angeles by Entrepreneur Magazine. Her life’s work is dedicated to Indigenous Fusion Cuisine, where she combines the food of her heritage – both Native American and Mexican. Pyet’s passion is to uplift indigenous culture and traditions via storytelling, traveling, and cooking.

Pyet spent part of her childhood on the Osage Indian Reservation, the remaining years of her life have been spent in Kansas City,KS. She is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Tribe. She relocated to Los Angeles, CA to promote wellness and nutrition through food.

Pyet’s passion for cooking developed as a child while being the help in the kitchen. She was intrigued by the spices and aromas in her family’s taquerias and restaurants in the Kansas City area. She attended  culinary school to pursue a culinary education and since has earned a certification in Wellness & Nutrition. Pyet started a personal chef business ‘Pyet’s Plate’ in 2016, to promote passion for wellness, nutrition and quality of food to the public. Her focus now is to promote Indigenous ingredients in every day cooking, while doing so hopes to encourage others to pass along healthy cooking, lifestyle choices and traditions within their own families.

Source: https://www.pyetsplate.com/about-me

Kiowa is a Hualapai actor with award winning film and television credits. He stars as “Jim Chee” in the series DARK WINDS for AMC, based on the book series from Tony Hillerman, and produced by George R. R. Martin and Robert Redford.

Born in Berlin, Germany, Kiowa moved to the States shortly thereafter to live on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Peach Springs, AZ and moved around quite a bit growing up until settling down in Phoenix, AZ where he landed the role of Embry Call in THE TWILIGHT SAGA. In 2013, Kiowa won Best Supporting Actor at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco for his role in the indie film, THE LESSER BLESSED. On the small screen, Kiowa had a Series Regular role in the Sundance original series, THE RED ROAD, starring Jason Momoa, Julianne Nicholson and Martin Henderson and Guest Starred on the Netflix series FRONTIER. In 2019, Kiowa starred in 2 features which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival – BLOOD QUANTUM (multiple festival nom and winner) from director Jeff Barnaby and CASTLE IN THE GROUND (TIFF nominated for best Canadian feature) from director Joey Klein.  That year he also had roles in the Netflix comedy LADY DYNAMITE, a recurring in the technologically groundbreaking series THE LIBERATOR from A+E Studios for Netflix, and a recurring role on the CW series ROSWELL.

More recent work includes a lead in the feature TWO EYES, directed by award winning filmmaker Travis Fine which was the closing film at Outfest 2020, and guest starred in Taika Waititi’s RESERVATION DOGS (FX).

Melanie Benjamin was first elected to the four-year term of Chief Executive/Chairwoman of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe in 2000, and was re-elected in 2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020. Benjamin previously served as the Band’s Commissioner of Administration and Sr. Vice President of Administration and Finance at Grand Casino Hinckley. As Chief Executive, Benjamin leads the Executive Branch of Band government and is responsible for conducting external relations with other governments.

Benjamin current service as a board member includes: Native American Finance Officer’s Association; Women Empowering Women for Indian Nations; American Indian Law Resource Center, National Indian Gaming Association, Midwest Alliance of Sovereign Tribes, Minnesota Board on Aging, MN Housing Finance Agency and U.S. Attorney Generals’ Tribal Nations Leadership Council. Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and the Minnesota Board on Aging, the U.S. Department of Interior Self-Governance Negotiated Rulemaking Committee and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan’s Young Women’s Leadership Council.

Benjamin holds a Master’s degree in Education and a B.S. in Business Administration.

Bio will be posted soon.

Winona LaDuke is a Harvard-educated economist, environmental activist, author, hemp farmer, grandmother, and a two-time former Green Party Vice President candidate with Ralph Nader. LaDuke specializes in rural development, economic, food, and energy sovereignty and environmental justice. Living and working on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, she leads several organizations including Honor the Earth (co-founded with The Indigo Girls 28 years ago), Anishinaabe Agriculture Institute, Akiing, and Winona’s Hemp.

These organizations develop and model cultural-based sustainable development strategies utilizing renewable energy and sustainable food systems. She is also an international thought leader and lecturer in climate justice, renewable energy, and environmental justice, plus an advocate for protecting Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.

In 2021, she was named to the first Forbes list of “50 Over 50 – Women of Impact,” in partnership with Mika Brzezinski’s “Know Your Value,” dedicated to shining a light on women over the age of 50 who have achieved significant success later in life, often overcoming formidable odds or barriers. In 1994, LaDuke was nominated by Time Magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40 years of age. She was awarded The Thomas Merton Award in 1996, The Biha Community Service Award in n 1997, The Ann Bancroft Award for Women’s Leadership Fellowship, and The Reebok Human Rights Award (which she used to begin the White Earth Land Recovery Project). In 1998, Ms. Magazine named her Woman of the Year for her work with Honor the Earth.

A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, she also has written extensively on Native American and Environmental issues. LaDuke is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and serves as co-chair of the Indigenous Women’s Network, a North American and Pacific Indigenous women’s organization.

Her seven books include: The Militarization of Indian Country (2011); Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming (2005); The non-fiction book All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999, South End Press); and a novel, Last Standing Woman (1997, Voyager Press). Her new book, To Be a Water Protector: Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers (Fernwood Press/Columbia University), is an expansive, provocative engagement with issues that have been central to her many years of activism, including seven years battling Line 3 — an Enbridge tar sands oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.

 

Okii Nii stoo skiactus Hello. I am Stormee Lee Kipp of the Shoshone-Bannock and Blackfeet people. Currently I am a senior at the University of Montana majoring in history. Ride horses, hunt and spend quality time with friends and family. This past year I won Actor of the year by the Native American Film Festival for my performance in the movie Sooyii, as this was my first movie. On August 5th Prey, Predator 5 will be released and I had the opportunity to star in the film. I am excited for what the future holds and wish good thought and kindness to all.

Bio is being finalized

Judith is a member of the Caddo Tribe who has an endless appetite for fry bread, an inter-tribal culinary delight! As the executive director of Native Organizers Alliance (NOA), she has learned many intertribal secrets to good fry bread. She leads a national Native training and organizing network which supports tribes, traditional societies, and grassroots community groups in urban and tribal communities.

Judith is part of a growing circle of Indian Country leaders who understand the necessity for an organized, durable ecosystem of Native leaders and organizers who lead with traditional values. NOA leads learning circles, training, and strategic planning sessions to support Native leaders in organizing the grassroots movements for structural reforms, leading to Native sovereignty and racial equity for all.

Judith has worked since 2016 with the Brave Heart Society, a traditional Dakota women’s society, and the Yankton Sioux Tribe on the Mni Wakan Wizipan. It is a project to re-establish the Yankton Sioux and other Oceti Sakowin tribes’ inherent rights to co-management the Missouri River bio-region.

Judith is a board member of IllumiNative and chair of the board of NDN. She is a 2019 Roddenberry Fellow.

Mato Wayuhi is an Oglala Lakota multidisciplinary artist originally from South Dakota. He works in film/TV both as a producer and musical composer, as well as writing his own music, garnering critical acclaim from NPR, Amazon Music, and Apple Music. Most notably, Mato is the composer for the award-winning FX/Hulu series Reservation Dogs. “Mato’s music is everything that good Indigenous art is right now. We are in a Renaissance and his music speaks directly to that movement. It’s unapologetic, it doesn’t need permission to exist and it’s made with an urgency — An urgency to move us into a new era” says Sterlin Harjo, creator and showrunner of Reservation Dogs. A recent graduate of the University of Southern California, Mato continues to work and play in Los Angeles, spending parts of his summers attending ceremonies and bumming around with family back home.
Gregory Phillips II, PhD, MS (he/him) is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University (NU), and founder of the Evaluation, Data Integration, and Technical Assistance (EDIT) Program within NU’s Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH). He is an infectious diseases epidemiologist whose career spans over a decade of exploring the complex factors that disproportionately impact the health of minoritized individuals.  He uses a community-led approach in all his work, and has been one of the leading developers of several new program evaluation frameworks, including LGBTQ+ Evaluation and Systems-Informed Empowerment Evaluation. He also currently leads the Youth and Young Adults (YYA) COVID-19 Study, funded under the NIH RADx-UP Initiative.

I would like to introduce myself. My name is Nino Maltos II, and I am the Chairman of the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, located in Darrington, Washington. I have lived in Darrington for most of my life, and it’s my hometown, the place I grew up. It also is where my ancestors come from. Thinking back 10 years ago, I would have never imagined I would be in the position I am in now. Being a Tribal leader is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am very proud to be a part of the betterment of our tribe. Housing, economic development, and Tribal Treaty Rights are what I focus on the most. We have accomplished so much in such little time regarding the topics mentioned, and there is still much to do. The route we are going now under the current leadership holds a very promising future for our Tribe and our Membership. Thank you, Chairman – Nino Maltos II

Brian Weeden, at 28-years old, was the youngest person elected to Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. He is from the Eel Clan. Chairman Weeden serves as Co-Chairman of the Massachusetts State Seal Commission. On May 25, 2022 Chairman Weeden was officially recognized by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development with the 40 Under 40 Award.  Chairman Weeden also serves on numerous boards and committees in the community, including the town of Mashpee School Committee and Historical Commission.
Chairman Weeden is the former Co-President/Trustee of the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) INC., National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Youth Commission Co-Vice President. Chairman Weeden has and continues to be heavily involved in his Tribe working closely with the Tribe’s Pow Wow Committee, Land Use and Planning Committee, Enrollment Committee and Youth Advisory Committee.  Chairman Weeden is the Vice President of the WLRP Board of Directors and a certified Wôpanâak language teacher.

Awards

2022 UNITY J.R. Cook Advisor of the Year Award

Effective and successful youth councils consistently have one key ingredient in common; an advisor who is involved, provides wise counsel and guidance, and is willing to work closely with youth council members as they make and carry out their decisions and related activities.
UNITY values the dedication of these many individuals who provide adult leadership and nurture and support the development of Native youth. In appreciation, UNITY will honor one such advisor this year during the 2021 National UNITY Virtual Conference. The honoree will be recognized during the 2022 National UNITY Conference GALA on Sunday July 10, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Please note, only online submissions are accepted at this time.  Application deadline is on June 11, 2022.
Before completing this form, a Letter of Support from a community member or leader is required.
Please nominate a deserving advisor
Deadline: June 1, 2022

 

2022 UNITY Eddie Wadda Alumni of the Year Award

Do you know a UNITY alumnus who should be recognized for their outstanding achievement and contributions to the Native American community? UNITY is accepting nominations for its prestigious Eddie Wadda Alumni of the Year Award.
The purpose of the “Eddie Wadda Alumni of the Year Award” is to recognize outstanding achievement by an individual among the UNITY alumni.  An Alumni of UNITY is any individual who was actively a part of UNITY as a youth, advisor, trustee or staff that is over the age of 24. UNITY values the dedication of these individuals who embody the spirit of UNITY by giving back to the Native American community. In appreciation, UNITY will honor one such Alumnus or Alumna this year during the 2022 National UNITY Conference GALA on Sunday, July 10, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Please note, only online submissions are accepted at this time.  Letters of Recommendation must be uploaded here to this form, and not sent in separately. Only online materials submitted by this date will be reviewed and considered.  Application deadline is on June 1, 2022.
Please nominate a deserving advisor
Deadline: June 1, 2022

Meet Our Conference Trainers

Hunter Genia, is Ojibwe and Odawa from Michigan (Mich-a-ga-ming) and has been involved with and a supporter for UNITY for several years. Hunter was a member of the first Earth Ambassadors circle. Hunter continues to advocate and utilize his knowledge to help strengthen Indigenous communities and organizations while promoting and protecting cultural and traditional lifeways. Hunter loves working with our tribal youth while opening doors to help each see and believe in the value of their own rezilience and potential. Hunter is an LMSW, and
employed with Tribal Tech, LLC, an Indigenous woman owned company from Alexandria, VA.

Osiyo my name is Michael Killer, i am a full blooded Cherokee from Tahlequah, OK where i live with my wife Jerri Ann and our 2 kids Levi & Lennox. I am the singer for the U.N.I.T.Y. Drum. I have also served on the executive committee as a member at large and as co-president. I have been singing around this drum since its instalation back in 1994 at the Tampa conference. There have been many great singers from all over Indian country that have sat around grandpa. we invite everyone to come and sing with us, so bring your songs. It is an open drum. It has been taught to me that the drum is the heartbeat of our native people. Its good medicine. I am very honored and humbled to serve as the leader singer. Just want to say thank you to Mary Kim and to U.N.I.T.Y. wado!!!

Bio is being finalized

Juanita Toledo

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in the village of Walatowa in New Mexico, Juanita “Moonstar” Toledo invests her energy and time into her community as well as the lives of Native Youth throughout the United States of America. Juanita has served as an advisor, facilitator, trainer, and an advocate for Native Youth through the Native American Youth Empowerment (NAYE) and United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) organizations.

The Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) selected Juanita as an AIO Ambassador, and a CNN feature of the Red Road Project named Juanita as one of the “Young Native Americans Celebrating Their Culture.” Her iconic photo by Project 562 was featured in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine. She models for influential Indigenous fashion designers & artists, has appeared in international editions of Marie Claire Magazine, Vogue World and the critically acclaimed Native Fashion Now. Through her involvement with the Native Guitars Tour, Juanita amplifies Indigenous artists and musicians.

Juanita is a beautiful example of an inspiring mentor and contributes to progressive growth for the future. She is passionate about youth leadership development, art & creative expression, and holistic well-being. Juanita “Moonstar” Toledo is a Black Indigenous womxn of both African and Native American ancestry, enrolled in the Pueblo of Jemez. Connect with Juanita on Instagram: @moonstar.the.muse.

Sheldon Smith

Sheldon Smith is a Native American advocate, motivational speaker, and performer. His work has focused on working with young people across the country to find their potential. Including building positive character development, leadership, self-care, cultural and spiritual empowerment. Sheldon share his passion by sharing stories, breaking down barriers, and being an entrepreneur.

Chance Rush

For more than 20 years Chance Rush has served as a motivational speaker and trainer for tribal organizations and communities. He also serves as a Master of Ceremonies for national events throughout the country. Chance is the founder and executive director of 501(c)3, Our Native Men, Inc. and owner of Cloudboy Consulting, LLC. Chance lives a healthy lifestyle and promotes fitness, education, and spirituality. Chance is an enrolled

member of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Hidatsa). He’s also Dakota, Arapaho, Oneida, and Otoe. He’s a graduate of Haskell Indian Nations University and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Oklahoma Baptist University. Chance serves as a Life and Health Coach, Personal Trainer and is a licensed ordained Pastor. He is an NAIA National Champion and 4 Time All American (Track & Field).

Junior Sierra

Junior Sierra is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Junior lives in Hulbert, Oklahoma with his wife Hannah and three daughters Isabella, Rosie and Sofia. Junior is attending his 22nd Unity conference and for 15 years Junior has been the drum keeper for Unity. Junior supports the work of Unity to advocate for the young people across Indian country in Social, Spiritual, Mental and Physical health. “Young people I Pray you would listen to each presenter and attend as many workshops as possible, then reach out and network with another youth council from a different area, and grow!”

Sleepyeye LaFromboise

Eshtakaba LaFromboise

Channah Walker

I am an EMCEE, DJ, Youth Advocate, & National Speaker. I am currently an official DJ for Nike N7, International DJ/Tour Support for Taboo (The Black Eyed Peas), MTV Video Music Award Winner, a member of newly formed group #Mag7, CEO of One Innertainment Inc. & Co Founder of an outreach program called One Chance Leadership.

Hilton Minneapolis

1001 Marquette Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55403, US

1-800-HILTONS

Exhibitors - UNITY Is all about providing resources and opportunities to Native Youth!

July 8-12 Minneapolis, Minnesota

Package Rates

Each Exhibitor/Vendor Booth Will Include

Outreach Opportunity

Set up information and schedule coming soon.

Workshops

Registration dates and prices to attend the National Conference are as follows:
Through May 31, 2022: $350 advance registration
June 1 through onsite registration: $450 full rate

Sponsorship Opportunties

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Conference program advertisements are due no later than Friday, June 10, 2022.
Video/commercial submissions are due no later than Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Important dates to remember and information is being gathered and will be placed here soon.

Past UNITY Conference Videos