Nearly 100 Native Youth Receive Service Project Training at Today’s Native Leaders Academy in Rapid City – UNITY, Inc.

Nearly 100 Native Youth Receive Service Project Training at Today’s Native Leaders Academy in Rapid City

Today's Native Leaders in Rapid CityRapid City, South Dakota—Nearly 100 Native American youth and their advisors from tribes across the nation discussed how they can give back to their communities at a leadership training last week in Rapid City, South Dakota. United National Indian Tribal Youth, also known as UNITY, in partnership with the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) hosted the “Today’s Native Leaders” (TNL) youth leadership event at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City.

The free TNL training, which focused on culturally relevant leadership development, included a curriculum promoting team building activities, action planning & event promotion, developing community service projects, and “How to create a UNITY youth council.” A group of Native youth peer leaders assisted in the training including Alexandria GreyBull, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes from South Dakota, Nataanii Hatathlie, Navajo from New Mexico, Leslie Locklear, Lumbee from North Carolina, Hamilton Seymour, Nooksack from Washington, Layha Spoonhunter, Eastern Shoshone from Idaho, Claullen Tillman, Eastern Shoshone from Wyoming, and Alexander Toledo, Jemez Pueblo from New Mexico.

Youth groups represented at the UNITY TNL Training included participants from the following South Dakota tribal Sioux communities: Pine Ridge, Eagle Butte, Mission, Parmelee, Sisseton, Rosebud and Whiteriver. Participants also included youth groups from Oklahoma, representing the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, and New Mexico representing the Navajo, Tohono O’odham, and Santa Clara Pueblo tribal nations.

These young Native leaders worked extensively throughout the weekend planning projects to address challenges in their communities such as teen pregnancy, bullying, suicide, substance abuse, unhealthy lifestyles, and loss of culture. Youth presented their creative ideas for projects such as a fitness camp, the drafting of an anti-bullying law, creation of a documentary focused on cultural practices, and the planning of weekly activities to provide people with alternatives to substance abuse.

“I had a great time at the Today‘s Native Leaders Training. I was inspired by all the amazing youth. I can’t wait to hear about how successful their projects go.  Indian Country has amazing up and coming leaders who will make our homelands a better place. Seeing their passion and willingness made me so excited for the future,” said GreyBull, who is also a member of the National UNITY Council Executive Committee.

“My favorite part of the training was being able to hear the Native youth voice and witnessing the hard work, dedication, and heart that these young leaders put forth all weekend long. We want these youth to know that what they have to say is important, we are here to listen, and we look forward to seeing how they will use that voice to create positive change in their communities, “ said Lynnann Yazzie, who is the Project Coordinator for the Today’s Native Leaders Initiative.

The training was led by renowned youth leadership trainers Jeri Brunoe, Wasco Tribe, and Marcus Guinn, Osage and Potawatomie.  Brunoe, who builds her leadership training techniques upon her culture and traditions, has served as a Lead Trainer for UNITY for many years. Guinn, who is also a rap artist and DJ, has served on the National UNITY Council Executive Committee.

The TNL initiative will offer tribal youth leadership training in seven regions over the next two years. Future trainings have been scheduled for Spokane, WA later this year; Saint Paul, MN, Oklahoma City, OK, and Palm Springs, CA in 2016; and Boston, MA, in 2017.

Today’s Native Leaders results from a four-year cooperative agreement between UNITY and the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The project is designed to offer regional and national trainings and learning opportunities for American Indian youth to increase positive outcomes in their school, community and family environments.

Visit this website for information concerning upcoming TNL events.