UNITY announces partnership with the Indigenous Youth Council, NM Indian Affairs Department

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Sherrie Catanach, NM Indian Affairs Department

UNITY Mary Kim Titla, (480) 718-9793


Mesa, AZ – United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) is proud to partner with the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (IAD) to provide resources at no cost to New Mexico Native youth ages 14 to 25 years old. The Peer Leaders are gearing up for this exciting youth-led  Southwest Healing Circle training. Seventeen out of the twenty-three tribal Nations of New Mexico have youth representatives who have already signed up to attend on December 10-11, 2022 at the University of New Mexico (UNM) Campus. In addition to the hands-on learning during the day, the UNM Kiva Club invites the public to attend the Culture Night on Saturday at 6:00 PM for cultural sharing and fellowship. There is still time to register for the two-day training. Find out more and sign up to participate here

“We are grateful for the support of the Indian Affairs Department to be able to bring this opportunity to New Mexico’s youth,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY Executive Director. “UNITY has a long-standing history of empowering New Mexico’s emerging leaders and is eager to continue this partnership through the Healing Circle Initiative.” 

The Healing Circle training will feature informative training sessions and hands-on activities that will inform, engage, and empower Native youth attendees to address community concerns in Indian Country. Participants will work in small groups with UNITY trainers to go through the steps of addressing a challenge of their choice. The objective of using the train-the-trainer approach is in hopes that the youth can develop their own community events in the future to increase community safety. The event culminates on Sunday with a mock-Tribal Council presentation, where youth are able to practice requesting funding for their ideas with real-life feedback from influential stakeholders.

Several local New Mexico youth have been a vital connection in this state-wide collaboration and planning. “I am so happy to be able to introduce New Mexico youth from my community to the power of UNITY,” said Chenoa Scippio. “This Healing Circle Initiative is important to me because it truly does inspire hope and change lives.” Chenoa (Diné) currently serves as the UNITY Female Co-President of the National UNITY Council’s Executive Committee and is an active New Mexico Indigenous Youth Council (IYC) Representative. During her last year of undergraduate studies at UNM, she was Co-President of the UNM Kiva Club, an ambassador for both the New Mexico Health Careers Opportunities Program and American Indian Student Services, and a voting member of the UNM Student Fee Review Board. She continues to work alongside other amazing young leaders at the Native Health Initiative in Albuquerque. 

The Indigenous Youth Council was formed in February 2021, following two listening sessions that the IAD held with tribal youth from across the state. Issues discussed ranged from the desire to have access to higher education resources to behavioral and mental health needs for tribal communities. Participants also voiced the desire to have more intertribal connections between the Nations, Tribes, and Pueblos in the state. The IYC is a group of 21 youth members from the Nations, Tribes, and Pueblos of New Mexico to engage with the department and help steer the work related to the issues raised at the listening sessions. IAD provides this space to come together to share mutual experiences, collaborate on shared initiatives, and build community.

Similarly, during the Healing Circle training, participants will identify ways to rebuild youth councils and build community support after the global pandemic. The youth-informed decision process will allow them to gain feedback on the best ways to remove obstacles to community safety. With four years in the making through the efforts of the Healing Indigenous Lives Initiative (HILI), the Peer Leaders are eager to teach other youth to utilize community asset mapping as a strength-based approach to reduce risky behaviors and juvenile delinquency. 

Once attending the upcoming Healing Circle, UNITY and the IYC aim for youth to facilitate their own town halls, focus groups, talking circles, or difficult discussions as a form of community development.

“The Indigenous Youth Council is excited to be collaborating with UNITY to provide training to New Mexico’s young leaders. The Healing Circle’s intent is aligned with the IYC goals of engaging in holistic health strategies and elevating youth voices, both of which the Indian Affairs Department and Governor Lujan Grisham remain committed to supporting. The IAD and IYC look forward to furthering our collaboration with UNITY,” said IYC Coordinator Kalee Salazar. 

The team believes it is crucial for Native youth to be at the center of the movement to create safe places to encourage help-seeking behaviors for youth who may be struggling. In doing so, UNITY Healing Circles help to encourage young people to become powerful advocates for the transformation of the spaces in which they live.

Registration for the training is free for all youth participants and advisors. Visit the www.unityinc.org website to sign up today.





Since 2003 the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (IAD) has implemented groundbreaking state-tribal policies intended to improve the quality of life for the state’s Native citizens. Our initiatives are designed to strengthen Tribal and state relations and address the challenges we face in our communities: economic development, infrastructure improvement, the protection of our cultures and languages, healthcare accessibility, and educational opportunities for our most precious resource— our children. Learn more at www.iad.state.nm.us


The New Mexico Indigenous Youth Council (IYC) was formed in February 2021 following two listening sessions that the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department (IAD) held with tribal youth from across the state. The IAD selected members representing the 23 Nations, Tribes, and Pueblos to engage with the department and help steer the work related to the issues raised at the listening sessions. IAD provides this space to come together to share mutual experiences, collaborate on shared initiatives, and build community. Learn more at https://www.iad.state.nm.us/from-theoffice/Indigenous-youth-council.



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, Hawaiian 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 320 affiliated youth councils in 36 states. Youth Councils are sponsored by Tribes, Hawaiian organizations, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges, urban centers, and others.