We are exactly what our ancestors have been waiting for: Talon Long

Meet Southwestern UNITY Youth Talon Long:  As a Senior at Cherry Creek High School in Englewood, CO,  Talon was a student athlete on the CCHS football team. Talon began his involvement with native youth organizations in 2014 with Morning Star Leadership Youth Council located in Phoenix, AZ. He helped to develop youth conferences and workshops in conjunction with Generation Indigenous. Talon submitted three youth council challenges with his peers and one individual challenge. Subsequently and because of their efforts, the entire youth council was invited to participate in the White House Tribal Youth Gathering in Washington DC in 2015. He became active with UNITY and traveled to the national conference in 2015 and helped with a youth led workshop.

“I believe in our Native youth. We are exactly what our ancestors have been waiting for. I will continue to push for initiatives that will support our communities to become stronger and more visible” said Talon.

In 2016, he and four other local youth received a $30,000 grant to develop a native youth empowerment conference held in 2017. Talon recorded videos and did the final presentation at the announcement for the grant awardees. This grant award and conference to follow helped Talon to receive an invitation to the White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC. He was invited to meet with the Senate Committee on Tribal Affairs by Senator Jon Tester. Talon was also on the local planning committee for UNITY 2017 held in Denver, CO. Talon helped to organize a symposium at University of Colorado Denver on the damaging effects Native mascots have on our youth. This symposium correlated with the Colorado Governor’s Commission to Study American Indian Representations in Public Schools. After the study was complete, two of the schools in Colorado agreed to change their mascot.

Talon, along with Northern Colorado UNITY, were awarded the Denver Mayor’s Diversity and Inclusion Award in 2017. Talon is a founding member of American Indian Academy of Denver as a youth representative. In June of 2019, Talon participated in Denver’s Young Leaders for Civic Change. He and two other youth were awarded a $10,000 grant to create a plan centered around food justice in the city of Denver. Talon is a responsible and loving older sibling to his brother and sister. He helps them with their homework and enjoys reading to them before they go to bed. During the summer months for the past 4 years, Talon babysits his brother and sister. The money he earns pays for his football fees in the Fall.

Talon’s story is one of community impact. UNITY is proud of the him and the UNITY Youth Council’s who continue to support his growth as a leader. What is your UNITY story? Let us know how UNITY has shaped your leadership by emailing la.buford@unityinc.org. Your story will help inspire hope in others.