UNITY Peer Guide Cheyenne Kippenberger and UNITY National UNITY Council (NUC) Female Co-President Brittany McKane attended a Native Youth Design Lab in Pawhuska, OK, for a campaign involving narrative change surrounding Native peoples. The Design Lab was hosted by Center for Native American Youth (CNAY) and IllumiNative, as well as Ryan Redcorn with Buffalo Nickel Creative Studios. The UNITY youth leaders spent two days collaborating and exchanging ideas to spark change for positive representation for Indigenous people.
“It was such empowering feeling to be apart of a group of other Native youth with the same vision for our people” explained Peer Guide Kippenberger. “Everyday I see the strength and determination in my generation and younger generations. We really are unstoppable and one day we’re gonna be able to look back and remember the small moments and conversations that led to these big changes.” Cheyenne Kippenberger, 23, of the Seminole Tribe of Florida from the Hollywood Reservation, also is the current 36th Miss Indian World.
As a UNITY Peer Guide, Kippenberger holds an youth advisory role for the Healing Indigenous Lives Initiative, made possible by a cooperative agreement (2018-TY-FX-K002) between UNITY, Inc. and the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. UNITY, with its trainers, youth guides, and mentors will offer regional trauma-informed youth leadership development trainings over the next two-years. These peer led asset mapping, youth advocacy and movement building workshops will collect Native youth feedback, from those who have been impacted by trauma and the Juvenile Justice system.
IllumiNative, a national Native-led nonprofit organization, in partnership with the Center for Native American Youth, and with the support of Decolonizing Wealth and Native Americans in Philanthropy, kicked-off Native Now campaign- a campaign designed and implemented by Native youth to amplify today’s Native voices. CNAY shared that the campaign targets the K-12 education system- which research has shown in its current form, largely serves to perpetuate and institutionalize invisibility, stereotypes, and misinformation about Native peoples today that fuels misinformation and bias. Although 87% of state-level history standards fail to cover Native people’s history in a post 1900 context, 72% of Americans support significant changes to K-12 education to ensure accurate Native history is taught in schools.
UNITY NUC Co-President McKane shared that the “Design Lab was an important opportunity to reflect upon new research that has been presented by IllumiNative and Echohawk consulting in order to find ways to impact the misconceptions in the views non-Native peoples hold of Native peoples, communities, and cultures. I was blessed to be able to collaborate with some of the sharpest youth leaders in Indian Country, whose input on this project created a powerful end-product that we are excited to be able to share soon.”
Each year, during the National UNITY Conference, there is a National UNITY Council business meeting that takes place. It is here the voting members (one male and one female from every affiliated youth council and affiliated individual members of UNITY) elect new members to the National UNITY Council Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is comprised of t Co-Presidents, one male and one female, and ten Area Representatives to represent the ten geographical regions within the UNITY network.
Native Now has created resources to educate non-Natives and support Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Complete with Lesson Plans for teachers, social media graphics, a coloring book, and with a Do’s and Do Not Factsheet, Native Now is providing resources to fuel a movement. To join the campaign, visit www.IllumiNatives.org/NativeNow.
For More Information, or to request a UNITY Peer Leader to participate in your youth training, contact Program Manager LorenAshley Buford at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Call UNITY National Headquarters: 480-718-9793