Mesa, Arizona – January 30, 2020 – United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) will hold its annual midyear conference in Tempe, Arizona, February 14-17, 2020 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Tempe. The conference will bring together more than 300 Native youth, who will hear from motivational presenters including Chinle High School Athletic Director Shaun Martin along side members of the 2018-19 Chinle H.S. basketball team, who were featured in the Netflix documentary “Basketball or Nothing.”
UNITY’s mission is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth, and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. This year’s focus will be on healing, and strengthening Native youth identity and sense of belonging.
“We have seen Native youth go from being reticent to engage, to being confident about their ability to affect positive change for themselves and their communities,” says Mary Kim Titla, Executive Director of UNITY. “Our conference provides students with various motivational workshops, team-building exercises, wellness activities, cultural exchanges, and new opportunities for our youth,” she said.
The conference will include a Native Youth Activism Panel, where attendees will hear from TaNeel Filesteel (Aaniih and Nakoda), Rosalie Fish (Cowlitz), and Anthony Tamez-Pochel (Cree/Lakota). Other presentations include a session on 2020 Get out the Native Youth Vote, by Theresa Sheldon (Tulalip) who is the Native American political director fo the Democratic National Committee.
Additional conference highlights include cultural sharing, team building, and a UNITY mock pageant. Several educational exhibitors, as well as Native American arts and crafts vendors, will also be present.
For more than 43 years, UNITY has brought together Native American and Alaska Native youth leaders from across the country to participate in leadership development training. The registration rate is $250 through February 1, 2020, and will increase to $275 for on-site registration. The conference is nearing capacity and early registration is encouraged. For more information and to register, visit UNITY’s website at www.unityinc.org or call (480) 718-9793.
About UNITY, Inc.
Founded in 1976, United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native Youth. UNITY’s mission is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 14 -24, and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. UNITY’s network currently includes 274 affiliated youth councils in 34 states.
About Shaun Martin
Shaun was born and raised in LeChee, AZ (Navajo Reservation). He serves as Athletic Director at Chinle High School in Chinle, Arizona. Shaun is an Ultra Marathoner, running races up to 150 miles. He graduated from Northern Arizona University in 2004 and spent 9 years teaching at Chinle High School and 9 Years Coaching Cross-Country and Track and Field. During this time Shaun had 12 State Team Titles in Cross-Country, 19 Individual State Champions and 49 Student Athletes received scholarships to attend college. Shaun spent 2 years coaching cross country at Dine College where his teams won 3 National Titles and had 12 All-Americans at the USCAA National Championships.
Rosalie Fish (left), TaNeel Filesteel (center), and Anthony Tamez-Pochel (right) will participate in a Native Youth Activism Panel during the UNITY Midyear Conference.
Rosalie Fish photograph by Tyler Tjomsland / Spokesman-Review
About Rosalie Fish
Rosalie Fish is an 18-year-old member of the Cowlitz Tribe and a competitive runner from the Muckleshoot Reservation in Auburn, Washington. She graduated in 2019 from the Muckleshoot Tribal School, where she represented her school in the Class 1B Washington State Track Meet, earning three gold medals, a silver and a sportsmanship award. She used that platform to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW). She made international headlines when she painted a red handprint over her mouth, the fingers extending across her cheeks to honor the lives of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Her passions include running, youth empowerment, indigenous visibility, upholding and practicing Native traditions, as well as uplifting and advocating for Native communities and Native women. She is a two-time TedX speaker and has worked with countless news networks to raise awareness for the MMIW epidemic. Recruited for her running ability and proven leadership, Rosalie attends Iowa Central Community College where she continues her career as an athlete and MMIW activist.
About TaNeel Filesteel
TaNeel Filesteel is a citizen of the Aaniih and Nakoda Tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and Apsaalooke of the Crow Nation in Montana. She is a senior at Salish Kootenai College majoring in Tribal Governance and Administration and has garnered an impressive list of accomplishments. She attributes her early success to her family’s dedication to education and cultural value. Filesteel currently serves a one-year term as President of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Student Congress, where she is leading initiatives on Get Out the Vote for the 2020 Presidential election, sustainability on TCU campus’s, and improving communication between TCU’s and AIHEC. In 2017, She was appointed to serve as the Deputy Prosecutor for the Fort Belknap Tribal Government, a position she continues to occupy until she attends Law School in the fall of 2020. She recently delivered a Tedx Talk at the TredxBozeman event, titled Lessons from a Tribal Prosecutor, where she weaves storytelling and poetry into a powerful presentation of healing. Taneel is a member of the inaugural class of UNITY’s 25 Under 25 national youth leadership recognition program.
Anthony currently serves on the National UNITY Council Executive Committee – Midwest Representative. His background as a Cree and Lakota has influenced his efforts to serve his community in Chicago. He identifies as Afro-Indigenous (Black and Indigenous). Last summer he drafted and submitted an ordinance to the Chicago City Council calling for the abolition of Columbus Day and establishment of Indigenous Peoples Day. Through land-based education, Anthony works to ensure that the community does not lose its connection to the land, and helps community members plant medicine gardens in their own backyards to maintain that connection. In 2015, Anthony served as a Youth Ambassador for President Obama’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative. In 2018, he was recognized by the Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) as a Champion for Change and he currently serves on CNAY’s Youth Advisory Board. Anthony attends Harold Washington studying Public Policy and Social Work. He is also employed with City of Chicago as an Aldermanic Aide with a focus on ordinances, local businesses, and youth projects.