The Klamath Tribes Youth Council are celebrating their cultural wellness by hosting year round events. These Oregon Native youth have taken the UNITY Wellness Warriors Challenge to new heights by hosting over six events within the past 12 months in the UNITY Northwestern Region. As part of the Wellness Warriors program, UNITY Youth Councils are promoting Physical, Mental, Spiritual and Social Wellness.
The UNITY Wellness Warriors Program challenges affiliated youth councils to implement a Wellness Warrior event this year. By utilizing the project planning tools offered through the free mobile phone app and on the UNITY website, youth councils can join the national movement and share traditional wellness teachings with their home community.
The Klamath Tribes Youth Council bring awareness to Social Wellness through their annual summit. Each year the Klamath Tribes Youth Council hosts the annual Klamath Tribes Leadership Summit in Klamath Falls, OR. The summit is 3 days long and is open to all tribal youth from the region. During the summit, the youth have the chance to attend a career resource fair to learn about opportunities the Klamath Tribes offers youth, attend general sessions with keynotes delivered by experienced tribal professionals, participate in a cultures sharing, a dance, workshops and more. The focus of the 2018 summit was remaining true to your cultural identity. Youth council members are enrolled members of the Klamath Tribes in Oregon, which is comprised of the Klamath and Modoc Tribes and the Yahooskin Band of Northern Paiute/Snake Indians.
In the youth council’s annual report, the youth shared how they gain Spiritual Wellness teachings by participating in the Klamath Tribes Restoration Celebration Parade. The National UNITY Council Male and Female Representatives, Preston Lewis and Hannah Schroeder helped lead their youth council wellness efforts. They explained how “each year the youth council makes a float for the Klamath Tribes Restoration Treaty Days parade in August, which goes along with the theme of the celebration.” According to the youth council, the celebration theme was “Women Are Sacred” so the youth council put together a float to honor missing and murdered indigenous women, and won a trophy for best youth float.
The youth council addressed Physical Wellness by partnering with the University of Washington to host a Klamath Tribal Member Water Security Talking Circle. This was a research project for UW and allowed for tribal members to voice their concerns about the many water issues we have in our homelands. The Youth Council served a homemade dinner and participated in the talking circle, along with coordinating a majority of the event.
The Native youth share how Mental Wellness is key to leadership development annually during the “Restoration of the Spirit” event. Each year the youth council participated in this large scale tribal event focused on mental health promotion and delivering positive messages to the tribal community. This year the youth council opened the event by singing a traditional Klamath song and also performed a powerful poetry slam addressing issues facing our community from historical trauma, to rape and substance use.
As true UNITY Wellness Warriors, the youth council actively engaged their local community’s health at the Keep Tobacco Sacred Luncheon. The Youth Council partnered with Klamath Tribal Health & Family Services and Klamath County Public Health to kick off the release of the Oregon Tobacco Retail Licensing Assessment along with the launch of their new “Keep Tobacco Sacred” campaign by hosting a luncheon and press conference to announce the achievement. The aim of the campaign is to keep commercial tobacco out of the hands of minor and to encourage all tribal people to use tobacco responsibly, using the slogan “smoke meat, not tobacco” which was printed on thousands of stickers which are now available all over the community.
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A Special Thank you to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) for their ongoing support of the UNITY Wellness Warriors Program. WKKF supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society.