Scroll Top

“Healing the Spirit of Native Youth”

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 2023 National UNITY Conference in Washington, DC (June 29 – July 3, 2023). 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!

Washington Hilton - Washington, D.C.

1919 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009 | Phone: (202) 483-3000

Conference Hotel

 

While the host hotel is sold out, overflow rates are available at the two hotels across the street; the Generator Hotel with a cutoff date of June 13, 2023 and the Churchill Hotel with a cutoff date of June 8, 2023.

Remember to mention "UNITY" when booking your hotel to take advantage of discounted rates

UNITY Announces Speakers for the
Annual National Leadership Conference

CHIEF MUTÁWI MUTÁHASH (MANY HEARTS) MARILYNN “LYNN” MALERBA

CHIEF MUTÁWI MUTÁHASH (MANY HEARTS) MARILYNN “LYNN” MALERBA

18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe
KINSALE DRAKE

KINSALE DRAKE

LILY PAINTER BRINGS WATER

LILY PAINTER BRINGS WATER

Matika Wilbur

Matika Wilbur

Shawn Martinez

Shawn Martinez

Senior Director of Live Presentation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury
Vicki Vasques

Vicki Vasques

Owner and Chairwoman of Tribal Tech, LLC and Cowan & Associates, Inc.
Cynthia Chavez

Cynthia Chavez

Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
Zoya Awan

Zoya Awan

Director of Public Affairs at Walmart
Andrea Palm

Andrea Palm

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

CHIEF MUTÁWI MUTÁHASH (MANY HEARTS) MARILYNN “LYNN” MALERBA

18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe

Chief Mutáwi Mutáhash (Many Hearts) Marilynn “Lynn” Malerba became the 18th Chief of the Mohegan Tribe on August 15, 2010, and is the first female Chief in the tribe’s modern history.The position is a lifetime appointment made by the Tribe’s Council of Elders. Lynn follows in the footsteps of many strong female role models in the Mohegan Tribe, including her mother, Loretta Roberge, who was a member of the Tribal Council that achieved Federal Recognition for the Tribe and held the position of Tribal Nonner (elder female of respect) as well as her great- grandfather Chief Matagha (Burrill Fielding). Before becoming Chief, she served as Chairwoman of the Tribal Council, and served in Tribal Government as Executive Director of Health and Human Services. Preceding her work the for the Mohegan Tribe, Lynn had a lengthy career as a registered nurse ultimately as the Director of Cardiology and Pulmonary Services at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital. She earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice at Yale University named a Jonas Scholar. She was awarded an honorary Doctoral degree in Science from Eastern Connecticut State University and an honorary Doctoral Degree in Humane Lettersfrom the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, CT. She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Connecticut, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the College of St. Joseph and her diploma in nursing from Hartford Hospital School of Nursing. Lynn was appointed by President Biden and is currently serving as the Treasurer of the United States.

KINSALE DRAKE

NDN Girls Book Club is an organization founded by Diné writer Kinsale Drake that is dedicated to uplifting Indigenous authors, promoting Indigenous literature, supporting young Indigenous writers, and centering Indigenous booksellers and tribal libraries. The Book Club hosts free author talks, free workshop programming, and an extensive database of resources for emerging writers. It has been featured since its early 2023 launch in Teen Vogue, NPR, Indian Country Today, The Salt Lake Tribune, Yahoo’s In the Know, and more.

LILY PAINTER BRINGS WATER

Lily Painter Brings Water, also known by her English name, Lily, is a 21 year old citizen of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. She is a poet, writer, community and arts advocate, filmmaker, and was an inaugural Remembering Our Sisters Fellow with the Center for Native American Youth where she advocated nationally for MMIWG2S+ awareness and policy advancement. In 2023, she was the White House’s first Native American Intern in the Domestic Policy Council and was named as one of Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21. She is a UNITY 25 under 25 and the reigning 2023 Miss Indian Oklahoma. In her free time, she assists with graphic design for NDN Girls Book Club.

Matika Wilbur

Matika Wilbur is a critically acclaimed social documentarian and photographer from the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington. Project 562, a crowdfunded initiative to visit, engage, and photograph people from over 562 sovereign Tribal Nations in North America, is her fourth major creative venture elevating Native American identity and culture. She co-hosts the All My Relations podcast which has over 2 million listeners. She has offered over 300 keynotes at such places as Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, Google, TED Talks, the National Education Association, and National Geographic Explorer, and she is a regular contributor to the New York Times. Her book, “Project 562: Changing The Way We See Native America” was releases in April 25th of 2023 and was instantly a NYT Bestseller.

Shawn Martinez

Senior Director of Live Presentation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury

Shawn Martinez finished up his fourth season as Senior Director of Live Presentation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. He oversees the strategy and execution of all in-game live production and entertainment elements for the organizations. Martinez’s leadership elevated the game day experience at the recently renovated Footprint Center, creating the best homecourt advantage in the NBA and WNBA. 

Martinez grew up in Fort Defiance, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation and is an enrolled member of the Diné/Navajo Tribe. An athletic standout from Window Rock High School, Martinez continued his basketball journey at Fort Lewis College. He received his bachelor's degree in communications and fine arts and launched an entertainment career under the stage alias DJ Tribal Touch.

Before joining the Suns and Mercury, his home state teams, Martinez spent 12 years with the Denver Nuggets and six years with the Detroit Pistons. Beyond basketball, Martinez regularly mentors Native youth and shares his indigenous roots and career journey at various events across the country. In 2022, Shawn performed at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to celebrate Native veterans and the official dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. As DJ Tribal Touch, he has performed coast to coast at some of sports and entertainment's biggest events.

Martinez also helped lead and played a pivotal role in the Suns’ efforts to recognize the local Native American community in unique ways, headlined by a symbolic turquoise 2022-2023 City Edition ORIGINATIV platform, which celebrated the cultures and traditions of the 22 Tribal Nations of Arizona.  As part of the initiative, the Suns featured Native American performers and authentic in-game programming during 10 ORIGINATIV themed nights designed to honor Arizona’s Indigenous communities. 

In November 2023, Martinez was presented with the Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership “Man of the Year” Award by the Phoenix Indian Center for his commitment to uplifting and serving the community.  Shawn also received the 2023-2024 NBA Values of the Game Award presented to him by the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, which recognizes an individual who embodies the NBA’s mission of inspiring and connecting people through the game of basketball.

Vicki Vasques

Owner and Chairwoman of Tribal Tech, LLC and Cowan & Associates, Inc.

Victoria Vasques is the Owner and Chairwoman of Tribal Tech, LLC and Cowan & Associates, Inc. Both companies are American Indian, SBA 8(m), third-party verified, woman-owned small businesses (WOSB) that provide management and technical services to federal, state, tribal and corporate clients.

For more than 30 years, Ms. Vasques has been an advocate for American Indians, leading education reform, health care and advancing energy initiatives.

Her career in public service includes serving as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Office of Indian Education, U.S. Department of Education, where she was the principal point of contact within the federal government for Indian education across the nation. Prior to that, she served as the Director of Indian Affairs at the U.S. Department of Energy. She also served as executive director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, as an education program specialist in the Office of Indian Education, on the President’s Commission on Indian Reservation Economics, and on the President’s Commission on the HIV Epidemic. Her experience with Indian issues outside the federal government includes serving as a technical assistant specialist at the National Congress of American Indians and as tribal liaison at The Committee for the 50th Presidential Inaugural.

Ms. Vasques received her Bachelor of Science degree from California State University at Fullerton, then went on to receive teaching credentials from the University of California at Irvine. She is Diegueno of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians, Valley Center, California, and is a former American Indian Woman of the Year.

She also serves on various boards for national and local non-profit organizations dedicated to supporting and promoting education and health care. Vicki has created a non-profit organization, The Ronald Maese Peralta (RMP) Foundation, in honor of her father. RMP’s mission is to improve the education, health and wellness of all people, especially those throughout Native communities.

Cynthia Chavez

Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

Cynthia Chavez Lamar is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. She is the first Native woman to head a Smithsonian museum. Chavez Lamar oversees the museum’s three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in Lower Manhattan and the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland.

Chavez Lamar is an accomplished curator, author and scholar whose research interests are focused on Southwest Native art and the methodologies and practices involved in collaborating with Indigenous communities.

Since January 2021, Chavez Lamar has served as acting associate director for collections and operations at the museum. She was responsible for overseeing its collections, facilities, safety and information technology departments. She led efforts to ensure effective management of and care for the museum’s collection, which is composed of more than 1 million objects and photographs and more than 500,000 digitized images, films and other media documenting Native communities, events and organizations.

Chavez Lamar has been at the museum most recently since 2014, and earlier in her career was a museum intern (1994) and later an associate curator (2000–2005). From 2014 through 2020, Chavez Lamar served as assistant director for collections at the museum.

Zoya Awan

Director of Public Affairs at Walmart

Zoya Awan is the Director of Public Affairs at Walmart. In her role she directs the strategic outreach and engagement strategy for Walmart’s strategic partnerships within multicultural and minority communities including People with Disabilities, Native Americans, and Emerging Generations across communities.

Prior to her work at Walmart, Zoya worked at Microsoft in Government Affairs, in the State Department’s office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan and various non-profits. Zoya has an MBA from Georgetown University and her B.A. in International Affairs and Communication Studies from American University.

Zoya is a proud Pakistani- American Muslim woman and an explorer who loves to travel and explore all things in the world.  Zoya is passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless and building partnerships to work across sectors to make impact in communities. Born and Raised in Long Island, New York a longtime Washingtonian Zoya currently resides with her family in New York.

Andrea Palm

Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Andrea Palm is the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As Deputy Secretary, she is the Chief Operating Officer and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Department.

Palm most recently served as Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services (DHS), overseeing one of the largest state agencies in Wisconsin as a member of Governor Tony Evers' cabinet. In this role, she had responsibility for the state's Medicaid program, its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and behavioral health programs, among others. DHS is also Wisconsin's public health agency, and as such, Palm led the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previously, Palm held a number of policy and operational roles in the Obama-Biden Administration at HHS, including Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislation, Counselor, Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to the Secretary. During her eight-year tenure, she worked on a variety of Administration priorities, including the Affordable Care Act, as well as providing leadership for the Department's work to combat the opioid epidemic.

Palm was born and raised in rural, upstate New York. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornell University and a Master's degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

UNITY Announces Trainers for the
Annual National Leadership Conference

HUNTER GENIA

HUNTER GENIA

CHANCE RUSH

CHANCE RUSH

PEARL YELLOWMAN

PEARL YELLOWMAN

Michael Killer

Michael Killer

Lovina Louie

Lovina Louie

Sheldon Smith

Sheldon Smith

Rudy Indigenous

Rudy Indigenous

Abby Rush

Abby Rush

Shawn Martinez “DJ Tribaltouch”

Shawn Martinez “DJ Tribaltouch”

Senior Director of Live Presentation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury
Corey Still, Ph.D.

Corey Still, Ph.D.

Senior Research Director at One Fire Associates, LLC

HUNTER GENIA

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.

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).

PEARL YELLOWMAN

Pearl Yellowman is a member of the Navajo Nation and is now a full-time Trainer focusing on Youth Development, Community Development, Government Development, and Executive Leadership Trainings. In 2019, Pearl Yellowman was appointed by then Navajo Nation President Johnathan Nez and Vice-President Myron Lizer, as the Executive Director of the Division of Community Development. As Executive Director and Cabinet member, Pearl advised President Jonathan Nez on policy matters and fiduciary concerns impacting the Navajo people. Pearl earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, a second Master’s Degree in Counseling Education, and a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from the University of Montana, in the Educational Leadership program focusing on Leadership and Higher Education. Pearl is a mother of three young adults, Mylan, Megan, and Mikayla. Her traditional teachings include the Ho’zho’ which translates into the Navajo Beauty Way.

Michael Killer

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!!!

Lovina Louie

LoVina Louie, Coeur d'Alene/Colville/Nez PerceLoVina is schitsu'umsh (Coeur d’ Alene) Tribe, nselxcin (Okanogan/Colville), Nimipu (Nez Perce) she is a descendant of Chief Morris Antelope of the schitsu'umsh and Chief Manuel Louie of the Inkaneep Band in Oliver BC Canada. She is a graduate of the University of Idaho where she received her Bachelors in Organizational Sciences with an emphasis in Community and Tribal Wellness. She was recently featured on Lifetime Movie Network 50 Women in 50 States and a speaker at the TEDx Coeur d’Alene event.  LoVina is a board member for the Native Wellness Institute, a national trainer and facilitator in youth leadership development, strategic planning, family constellations and community healing and wellness planning. She also has certifications from the Healthy Native Communities Fellowship.  She has worked with youth and adults in wellness and healing for over twenty years throughout North America. LoVina is a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend and an amazing human being. Her passion and zest for life is infectious.

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.

Rudy Indigenous

Rudy Indigenous (Choctaw/Kickapoo) is an Oklahoma based DJ and motivational speaker. With a primary focus on personal growth and wellness to spread positivity throughout Indian Country and beyond Rudy uses his skills in music and public speaking to help create, uplift and support the stories of Indigenous people and communities across the United States.https://rudyindigenous.com

Abby Rush

Abby Rush is a member of the Three Affiliated Tribes of Fort Berthold. She resides in Tulsa, OK where she is pursuing her M.A. in English Literature and Language. Abby pursued her poetic voice at a young age and has grown with her craft for over a decade. She seeks to tell the stories of Indigenous people through her work, always uplifting  Native voices in her writing and outreach endeavors. Abby is dedicated to spreading her message of wellness through writing across Indian Country.https://abbyrush.com

Shawn Martinez “DJ Tribaltouch”

Senior Director of Live Presentation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury

Shawn Martinez finished up his fourth season as Senior Director of Live Presentation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury. He oversees the strategy and execution of all in-game live production and entertainment elements for the organizations. Martinez’s leadership elevated the game day experience at the recently renovated Footprint Center, creating the best homecourt advantage in the NBA and WNBA. 

Martinez grew up in Fort Defiance, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation and is an enrolled member of the Diné/Navajo Tribe. An athletic standout from Window Rock High School, Martinez continued his basketball journey at Fort Lewis College. He received his bachelor's degree in communications and fine arts and launched an entertainment career under the stage alias DJ Tribal Touch.

Before joining the Suns and Mercury, his home state teams, Martinez spent 12 years with the Denver Nuggets and six years with the Detroit Pistons. Beyond basketball, Martinez regularly mentors Native youth and shares his indigenous roots and career journey at various events across the country. In 2022, Shawn performed at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian to celebrate Native veterans and the official dedication of the National Native American Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. As DJ Tribal Touch, he has performed coast to coast at some of sports and entertainment's biggest events.

Martinez also helped lead and played a pivotal role in the Suns’ efforts to recognize the local Native American community in unique ways, headlined by a symbolic turquoise 2022-2023 City Edition ORIGINATIV platform, which celebrated the cultures and traditions of the 22 Tribal Nations of Arizona.  As part of the initiative, the Suns featured Native American performers and authentic in-game programming during 10 ORIGINATIV themed nights designed to honor Arizona’s Indigenous communities. 

In November 2023, Martinez was presented with the Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership “Man of the Year” Award by the Phoenix Indian Center for his commitment to uplifting and serving the community.  Shawn also received the 2023-2024 NBA Values of the Game Award presented to him by the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, which recognizes an individual who embodies the NBA’s mission of inspiring and connecting people through the game of basketball.

Corey Still, Ph.D.

Senior Research Director at One Fire Associates, LLC

UNITY Announces Panelists for the
Annual National Leadership Conference

Sage Phillips

Sage Phillips

Cheryle Kennedy

Cheryle Kennedy

Greg Archuleta

Greg Archuleta

Sage Phillips

Sage Phillips is a proud Penobscot Nation citizen and recent graduate of UConn’s M.A. Human Rights program with a focus in Indigenous education rights as human rights.

Phillips is originally from Old Town, Maine, where she grew up close to her community and elders. As a 2021 Truman, Udall, and Cohen Scholar, Phillips has committed herself to a life in public service. She began working with the Native American Cultural Programs at the University of Connecticut (UConn) as an undergrad in 2018, determined to transform and expand the programs. Centering her work in creating good relations between UConn and the land it currently occupies, Phillips is a strong advocate for future ancestors and generations at land-grant institutions.

In 2020, Sage received a grant to begin a research effort surrounding UConn’s history as a land-grant institution (LGI). The project today, known as LandGrabCT, was developed in partnership with the Native American Cultural Programs, the Dodd Center for Human Rights, and Greenhouse Studios. The effort has received resounding support and positive feedback, as it serves to educate the community-at-large about the historical traumas LGIs were permitted to commit against Indigenous peoples and their lands. In 2022, LandGrabCT was named as a 20 for 20 Connecticut Game Changer for Innovation in Connecticut History.

In her free time, she is engaged with the Wabanaki Alliance as a member of the Coalition Building Team working to defend, promote, and protect sovereignty for the Wabanaki Tribes of Maine. Her latest achievement, being named a 2024 Champion for Change Fellow by the Center for Native American Youth has allowed her to connect with Native youth across the country. Her advocacy as a Champ is focused on creating equitable solutions for Indigenous youth seeking access to higher education institutions, primarily land-grant institutions. She credits her opportunities and successes to her grandfather and father, from whom she learned leadership at an early age while watching their work in the historic Penobscot River Restoration Project.

Cheryle Kennedy

Cheryle Ann (Allen) Kennedy come froms a family of weavers, beaders, carvers, gatherers, fishermen and hunters. She served on Tribal Council for a total of 26 years. Of the 26 years, she served 17 years as the Chairwoman.

Other political actions include:Commissioner on the Commission on Indian Services appointed by the Oregon Legislature;Appointed member on the Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Tribal Advisory Committee;Board member on the West Valley Hospital Foundation Board;Board member on the Willamette Heritage Area Coalition Board;Board member on the Oregon Business Association Board of Directors;Delegate to the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board;Member of the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians;Member of the National Congress of American Indians;Serving as Tribal Council liaison to the CTGR Culture Committee and Health Committee;Appointed by Governor of Oregon to serve on the Federal Laws Committee of the Oregon Health Fund Board;Appointed by the Oregon Health Policy Board to the Oregon Health Improvement Plan Committee;Former Commissioner of the Rural Health Council of Oregon;Former Commissioner of the Oregon's Women Commission;Former Steering Committee member of Oregon's Rural Health Education Centers.

Other employment:30-year career as a Health Administrator working with Tribes (including serving as our Tribal Health Director for nearly 15 years);Executive Director of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board;

Awards:
Selected by the Potlatch Fund to receive the Fran James Cultural Preservation Award at the Honoring Awards Gala in 2009;Health Administrator of Year by the Department of Public Health, Indian Health Services;Outstanding Leader in Health Care by the Oregon Department of Health;Recognized for the contributions to elevating the health status of Indian people by the National Indian Health Board.She loves sports and served as a coach for women/co-ed softball and coached girls/women's basketball. She makes regalia and Native American jewelry as well as other beadwork.

Greg Archuleta

Greg Archula is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, and am Clackamas Chinook, Santiam Kalapuya and Shasta. His primary focus areas as an artist are carving in the Columbia River Native Art Chinookan and Western Oregon forms and traditional /contemporary basketry.He likes to share the traditions, culture and history of the Tribes that make up the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Greg has been fortunate in learning much of what he knows working with some of our Tribal elders, basketry artisans and in sharing through teaching and learning with other Natives. "So little information is shared on our specific tribes, they get overshadowed by the more well-known tribes. This is one reason I do what I do." - Greg ArculetaGreg likes to teach by sharing ikanum (ancient stories) when the time is right. These stories relate to the land, place, practices and landscapes that relate to the local areas of our tribes. He wants students to have a better understanding of the tribal people that lived here on the land originally; for them to learn how tribes have connected to the land and landscape. His hope is that students will have an appreciation for the tribes history, culture and way of living.

UNITY Announces Panelists for the
Annual National Leadership Conference

Caleb Dash

Caleb Dash

Project Assistant
Bernice Gover

Bernice Gover

Student Board Member
Rory Wheeler

Rory Wheeler

Gabriella Nakai

Gabriella Nakai

Yanenowi Logan

Yanenowi Logan

Caleb Dash

Project Assistant

Sap kaic bañ ce:gig Caleb Dash añi an amjed Oñk Akimel. Hello my name is Caleb Dash and I come from the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community. I am thankful to have been elected as the Co-President of the NCAI Youth Commission and look forward to representing youth from all over Indian country. I am currently a project assistant for the UNITY Organization (United National Indian Tribal Youth) and am a former 25 under 25 awardee. I am Oñk akimel O'odham, Xalychidom Piipaash, Hopi, and Diñe. I Love learning more about my O'odham and Piipaash culture as well as helping teach youth to speak the language. Some of my favorite activities are hiking, traveling, photography, and learning new things.

Bernice Gover

Student Board Member

BERNICE GOVERPAWNEE/CHOCTAW

Ms. Gover is a 5th and 6th grade Reading teacher at Indian Wells Elementary School, located on the Navajo reservation. Ms. Gover has provided eight years of instruction to IWES, where she has taught as a 1st, 5th, and 6th grade teacher, and has served as the school’s reading specialist. Ms. Gover has also served as a coach and is currently serving as a mentor teacher overseeing a student teacher.

A 2010 graduate of Winslow High School, in Winslow, Arizona, Bernice went to further her education at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona. Upon her completion she transferred to Haskell Indian Nations University, located in Lawrence, Kansas. Bernice completed her education at Haskell, earning a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree in 2015. 

Bernice graduated from Grand Canyon University in 2019, with a Master of Arts in Reading. During the same time period (2018-2019), Bernice was a part of the Diné Institute for Navajo Nation Educators. While attending, she helped create a culturally relevant curriculum for indigenous education.

Bernice is now attending Northern Arizona University’s American Indian School Leadership Program. With an expected graduation date of 2024, Bernice will graduate with an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with plans to work as an administrator in her district. She strongly believes in the advancement of Indian education. Serving as a member of the board will allow her to utilize her voice to make positive changes in the world of Indigenous academia. 

Rory Wheeler

Rory is a citizen of the Seneca Nation, Turtle Clan, and a descendant of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation. He is a student at the Michigan State University College of Law, where he is an At-Large Representative with the Student Bar Association and the Secretary for the Native American Law Students Association. He received his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, from Niagara University. Rory is a Board Member for the Association on American Indian Affairs and serves on the Center for Native American Youth Advisory Board and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center Community Advisory Board. Following law school, Rory plans to continue his work supporting Tribal Nations in the areas of healthcare, public safety, economic development, cultural preservation, and advancing Nation-to-Nation relationships.

Gabriella Nakai

Gabriella Nakai (Choctaw/Navajo) is a junior honor student at Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Gabbe is committed to food security and sovereignty—especially under climate change. Recently, she was hosted by First Lady Jill Biden at the White House Native American Heritage Month Celebration, she moderated a panel discussion with leaders of the USDA as part of a White House Youth Forum, and she has contributed to conversations with the Department of Interior. Her service involves growing sustainable, heirloom Native produce in arid conditions and encouraging seed saving and propagation. She formerly served as a national UNITY Earth Ambassador and has founded clubs for Native American Heritage and Equity & Inclusion at her high school where she holds offices in both. Gabbe serves as an Arcadia Ambassador and the Public Relations Officer for her Student Government Organization. Gabbe is part of the Hoop of Learning Program, and Native American Program, and a student member of both the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) and Native American Journalists Association (NAJA). When Gabbe is not pursuing her education and community service, she is working at a local Phoenix Yoga studio where she is currently in the fitness industry and is earning her Yoga (200-hour RYT Certification). Gabbe is interested in pursuing Environmental Studies/Sustainability in College.

Yanenowi Logan

Yanenowi was recently elevated as the NCAI Youth Commission’s Co-President. The Youth Commission focuses on youth advocacy throughout Indian Country and I’m excited to mobilize our issues to new platforms and areas of action in my new role. Some of my initiatives in this new term are focused on Indigenous women’s abortion access and health care, bringing attention to the issue of Land Grant Universities, education on laws and policies for Indian Country youth like ICWA, and environmental advocacy always. We are currently designing our agenda for the 2023 Executive Council Winter Session in Washington D.C..

Special Performance by the
Yuan Sheng International Academy
on Saturday July 1, 2023

Yung Sheng International Academy

Yung Sheng International Academy

Yung Sheng International Academy

為偏鄉孩子設立的公益型學校

原聲國際學院隸屬於台灣原聲教育協會,為延續協會對偏鄉幼童的照顧,於2018年成立,是台灣第一所由民間出資籌辦的原住民公益型實驗教育學校。招收來自全國的偏鄉原住民高中生,幫助解決經濟、學業及生活適應的問題,使其能順升大學。

全校學生都是原聲國際學院合唱團的成員,透過合唱練習及展演的經驗內化品格,建立信心。合唱團保留原住民傳統歌曲及音色並融入現代音樂元素,培養具國際級的合唱水準,藉由原住民天賦的美聲讓世界聽見台灣。以取之於社會用之於社會的理念,教導學生以既有的能力回饋社會,因此合唱團以回饋目的演出為主,經常受邀參與公益性的慈善音樂會。

 

A nonprofit school for students in rural locations

Yuan Sheng International Academy belonged to Vox Nativa Taiwan Association. It was established in 2018 as the first indigenous public-interest experimental school in Taiwan, supported by the private sector to carry on the care for young children in isolated places. To aid with the financial, academic, and life adjustment issues so they may continue on to college, we recruit high school students in Taiwan who are native to the rural areas.

    The YSIA choir includes all of the students. Students develop and boost their confidence via choir practice and performance exposure. The wonderful voices of the Indigenous people will be shared with the world by preserving their traditional songs and timbre, fusing them with contemporary music, and training the choir into a world-class ensemble. We encourage students to contribute back to society on their own by teaching them the principle of "Taking from the community, giving back to society." As a result, the YSIA choir frequently receives invitations to and participates in benefit concerts hosted by nonprofit organizations.

UNITY Conference Updates:

Exhibitors - Your involvement will enhance the experience for attendees!

June 29 - July 3, 2023

Package Rates

Exhibitor $400.00
Conference Bag Stuffing $250

Bag Stuffing Includes:
⟐ Limited to 10 per conference
⟐ Informational Items (brochures, flyers, booklets, etc.)
⟐ Promotional Items (pens, hand sanitizer, note pads, etc.)

Each Exhibitor/Vendor Booth Will Include


⟐ One (1) 6-ft table
⟐ Two (2) Chairs-ft table
⟐ Two (2) non-transferable registrations

Outreach Opportunity

⟐ Meet up to 500 Native Youth, ages 14-24 and their adult advisor
⟐ College & Career Day – Saturday
⟐ Speed workshop presentations
⟐ All day and evening activities
⟐ Cultural Sharing Night open to the community and public

Set up information and schedule coming soon.

Featured Events

Make Sure to take advantage of the Pre-Conference Activities. We encourage everyone to schedule meetings with your elected representatives on Thursday, June 29, before the Conference begins. Click below to learn more about the UNITY Communications Bootcamp, the Healing Circle training, and the Native Youth Empowerment Night. Plan early to make the most out of your conference experience.

Sponsorship Opportunties

FAQ

When registering, you may create an account that will allow you to make changes. Changes can be made up until the online registration deadline. If participant names are unknown when first registering, simply put “TBD”. (TBD = To Be Determined)

https://unityinc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/UNITY-Safety-and-Crisis-Protocols.pdf

UNITY participants’ and youth’s safety and well-being are our utmost priority! As we prepare for this year’s National UNITY Conference, please know we will work closely with all advisors and chaperones to promote a safe experience. In fact, during the planning of UNITY events, we work closely with each property’s security team to outline safety tips and protocols. Hotel security officers are available onsite 24 hours each day. They may be reached immediately by calling #65 from a hotel phone. We remain dedicated to maintaining a secure environment for all participants and will continue to uphold our commitment to their welfare.

Click here for UNITY Hotel Group Safety Tips & Information

To ensure clarity and ease of response, it is important that advisors and chaperones have well-thought-out procedures in place to handle potential crises. Advisors and chaperones know their youth the best. The tip sheet provides suggested guidelines.

On-Site Support

For the continued safety and well-being of attendees, UNITY requires all trainers, contractors, and staff to submit background checks. Attendees’ well-being is our top priority when attending the nation’s largest gathering of Native youth.

UNITY Spirit Room

This year, an expert team of Cultural Wellness and Prevention trainers will team up to host UNITY’s Spirit Room. The Spirit Room (Convention Office 1, lower level) will be available throughout the conference, designed to provide a supervised safe space for Native youth and Advisors to gather, pray, meditate, or share cultural teachings. (Native youth will need to be accompanied by an Advisor) This space can also serve as a quiet place for anyone who may experience sensory overload or need time for reflection. The Wellness team is led by UNITY Alumni Hunter Genia, Lovina Louie, and Sheldon Smith.

Interventions, treatment, crisis assessment and counseling are not available on-site. The Spirit Room is designed to provide calm, focus, prayer and comfort to people while attending the Conference. The Spirit Room will close each night at 11:45pm.

Mental Health Support

The FCC has designated 988 as a nationwide 3-digit number for mental health crisis and suicide prevention services, sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Callers will be connected to a specialist who will listen to their concerns and connect them to relevant resources. The helpline will be promoted throughout the conference.

Emergency Mental Health Care

Call 988

Or text “HelpLine” to 62640

There is no Indian Health Service facility nearby. Here’s a link for the nearest Urgent care facilities.

Buddy System

Where’s your buddy? Every year, UNITY encourages youth participants to keep an eye on each other. A buddy system is a common way to reduce risk in any environment. Of course, it’s just one way to promote safety. We encourage youth to not only check in with each other but especially with their advisors. Daily huddles with youth and advisors is encouraged. UNITY peer groups conduct daily debriefs as a way to address any concerns. A group chat, with everyone’s cell phone numbers, is also a good way to keep track of each other. 

Community Safety Listening Sessions hosted by OJJDP

On Monday, July 3, 2023, the Department of Justice/Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention will host listening sessions at the National UNITY with youth and adults from across the country to discuss safety issues in Indian country. The listening sessions will bring together a select group of youth, ages 14 to 24, and adults with a diverse range of experiences to discuss the challenges they have had with safety in their communities and share their ideas for how federal programs could better empower them and their families.

The OJJDP Listening Sessions will be held Monday, July 3, at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm. One session is for youth, and the second session is for adults. Attendance is limited to 30 for each session. Sign up now!

4th of July Safety in Washington DC

The National Park Service asks visitors to adhere to the following guidelines to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day. Please bring plenty of water for hydration, dress in weather-appropriate attire, and use sunscreen.

The NPS is partnering with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services, and Arlington County Fire Department, as well as over 100 emergency medical service volunteers to provide medical services on the National Mall and along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Medical Aid Stations will be clearly identified by red banners with a blue star of life on them.

Public Health Considerations
For any viewing location, the public is asked to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases by following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for events and public gatherings.

Precautions against the heat

Summer temperatures in the nation’s capital can climb well above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but with the humidity, it can feel close to or more than 100 degrees. Sunburn, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can result from excessive heat exposure. Senior citizens and those suffering from chronic medical conditions may be more susceptible.

Take the following precautions to protect yourself against the heat:

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Bring a water bottle and drink water throughout the day even when you are not thirsty

  • Minimize consumption of beverages containing caffeine or alcohol

  • Eat a healthy breakfast and normal meals throughout the day

  • Take frequent shade breaks to cool off

  • Periodically get out of the heat and into air conditioning, especially between the hours of 10am to 3pm

  • Avoid overexertion

  • Reduce exertion during the hottest hours

  • Loosen clothing and cool off outside before entering an air-conditioned space

  • Bring extra medication.

If you are taking any prescribed medication for illness or medical conditions, be sure to bring extra doses just in case and have the medication information easily available in case medical providers need to know when treating in an emergency.

If you or someone you know exhibits the following signs and symptoms, go to a Medical Aid Station or summon help as soon as possible.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Profuse sweating

  • Nausea, headache, dizziness

  • Weakness, exhaustion

  • Cool, pale, flushed or ashen skin

  • Increased body temperature

The symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Red, hot skin

  • Change in level of consciousness (may become unresponsive)

  • Rapid or shallow breathing

  • Rapid, weak pulse

  • Body temperature of 104 degrees F or above

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition. Cool victims rapidly with splashed water and fanning. Summon help immediately.

Fireworks

Please follow these precautions if you are located near the launch site (West Potomac Park) during the fireworks display:

  • Consider wearing eye protection and hearing protection

  • Do not attempt to enter the fenced safety zones around the launch site

  • Following the fireworks, do not walk along Independence Avenue, SW, between Daniel Chester French Drive, SW, and 17th Street, SW, until safety teams clear the area of potentially harmful fireworks debris

Yes, as long as the cancellation occurs before July 1st. There will be a $25 cancellation fee per each individual registration.
There will be no on-site registration this year. Please register ahead of time.
No, registration will be forfeited with no future conference credit.
All youth participants ages 14-24 must be chaperoned.
Yes, all participants, including chaperones are required to have a name badge to access all sessions.
No, there will not be a one day conference fee available.
UNITY will follow CDC guidelines. Masks are recommended among those who are not vaccinated.
Social distancing will be encouraged during this event. There will be hand sanitizers widely available during this event.  Advisors! Please note, if someone begins to exhibit covid symptoms, they will be asked to self quarantine in their hotel rooms.

No, COVID-19 vaccines are not required for attendance. UNITY will abide by CDC guidelines for the duration of the conference. If you received a COVID-19 vaccine, you may consider keeping proof of your vaccination with you.

The banquet fee is included for each registration. If a registered attendee wishes to bring a guest, you can pay for an additional banquet ticket online.

Yes, when registering please note the Purchase Order or indicate a pending purchase order. A purchase order will hold the current rate until payment is received for a fee of $25 and must be paid within 60 days. 

Yes, casual to business casual.  The dress code is similar to a school dress code.

All rooms at the Hilton Resort are Suites that come with double beds and a sofa with a pull out bed, which can accommodate 4 – 6 people. However, there is only one bathroom. A King bed Suite includes a sofa sleeper (2 -4 people).

Yes, you may book rooms at the Generator Hotel, which is across the street from the host hotel.

There are limited hotel rooms available prior to and after the conference on a first come first served basis.

Hotel transportation to and from Washington, DC airports are not available. Your options are to use a Ride Share App such as Uber or Lyft, taxi, or the Metro (take line to Dupont Circle Red Line) and then it’s an 10 minute walk to the hotel. Fares may be up to $30 per person for rides (not including the Metro). For larger groups, you may research the following:

The Washington Hilton Hotel is approximately six miles from the Reagan National Airport. It’s about a 20 minute ride but during rush hour, it may take up to 30 minutes to get to the hotel.

No, you are welcome to attend as an individual.  We encourage all youth councils to find out how to become affiliated and take advantage of the benefits, otherwise you are welcome to attend as a group or individual, affiliated or not.

Yes, however, parents and advisors must consider whether topics and length of sessions are age appropriate.

Yes, you can participate in our conference, however, per the National UNITY Council Constitution and Bylaws, youth participants who wish to vote in the business meeting are required to be a U.S. citizen.  You may be an observer if you are not a U.S. citizen.

Lincoln Memorial- https://www.nps.gov/linc/index.htm

 

Washington Monument- https://www.nps.gov/wamo/index.htm

 

Smithsonian Museum of Space and Aeronautics- https://airandspace.si.edu

 

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian- https://americanindian.si.edu

 

Guide to Indigenous DC- Pocket Sight App

Exhibitors and workshop presenters must specify ahead of time if they have any audio or visual needs. A charge may apply.

Chairs and a podium will be provided.

UNITY guests will receive 30% off the standard parking rate, so about $36.40 per day. However, anyone parking in the hotel garage will have an automatic $100/day charge on their credit card – even though our discounted rate is $36.40 per day. The difference will be refunded when they check out – but it may take a few business days to show up on their card. You do have the option of contacting the hotel ahead of time and pre-paying their parking – to avoid the $100 per day. Those with oversized vehicles may contact the Washington Hilton hotel for information on nearby parking lots that may accommodate larger vehicles. You may also research this link for parking options: https://spothero.com/search?kind=destination&id=6207

The host hotel has a coffee shop and restaurants with grab and go options. Several sit down and fast food restaurants are within walking distance.

There is no Indian Health Service available. Here’s a link for the nearest Urgent care facilities.

Past UNITY National Conference Videos