Meet Nola: “My Name is Nola Teesatuskie, and am a senior at Swain County High school in Cherokee, North Carolina. I am member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and come from the Wolf clan. I have been a member of the Cherokee Youth Council for five years and have completed multiple hours of community service through the Youth Council. I am also a Cheerleader and play soccer at my school. I also participate in the Indigenous culture club and history club.” Teesatuskie is a wonderful example of leadership in the UNITY South-Eastern Region (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia).
Teesatukie explains how UNITY has influenced her leadership experiences and given her ways to give back to her community:
“Growing as a young Native Leader has changed my life for the better. It has been a great honor to be a member of the Eastern Band Cherokee Youth Council for the past five years. Our Youth Council has given me many opportunities to grow and learn as a leader and help within my tribal community here in North Carolina. I have been able to attend several UNITY conferences and travel to several Native Communities across the country where I was able to share my culture and learn about the cultures and lifestyles of other Native youth.
“Being able to learn at UNITY conferences and visit other tribal communities has given me great insights into just how similar the issues are that Native youth are facing across the country” Teesatukie stated. “Regardless of our location, the negative effects of colonization and federal policies on our cultures are evident in most if not all communities. Our Youth Council here in Cherokee, NC, is seeking to address some of these issues in our community: such as domestic violence, substance abuse, and environmental sustainability. It is our hope that we can raise awareness and ultimately work in conjunction with our Tribal Council and Executive Branch to draft and enact legislation that will seek to combat these things for our tribal people.”
Teesatukie shares how she truly wants to become an advocate in her community: “Our youth Council believes in the empowerment of our young people and the synergy our voice can bring to the issues we are seeking to address. I hope to be an example to others in our community, and bring my lessons learned to all the participants of UNITY and to be able to learn from others on the battles they are fighting to better their tribal communities as well. It is my hope to continue to be a voice for the tribes in our Southeastern Region, and to develop my leadership skills and network to address tribes all across Indian Country.”
UNITY is grateful for youth leaders like Teesatukie, who are living out the Mission in their own lives. We are encouraged by the Native youth impact that each person holds and the Youth Councils that help support them locally. The Cherokee Youth Council is a culturally based leadership program striving to empower tribal youth through the development of cultural identity, leadership skills, and community service.