National UNITY Council’s Southern Plains Representative Elwood McClellan Jr. of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma’s Monthly Report:
As the new term has begun, I started off by exchanging contact information with as many southern plains youth councils as possible during the National Conference. The Caucuses are a wonderful time for youth to meet others in their state and region who want to create change for youth. This networking has allowed me to check in frequently to understand the state in which youth councils are in. I believe as a representative I need to hear the concerns and celebrate the victories of our youth. Staying in contact with youth in our region will allow us all to be on the same page while constructively planning events/activities to keep us all engaged. Although some contact has been established, this does not mean we are where we want to be. For instance, I am continuously reaching out to build our networking. We still have work to do rebuilding our Region and establishing new youth councils. I am extremely excited to continue our work throughout the upcoming term! This gathering of Oklahoma youth gave me hope for the future and all of the things we can achieve when we support each other.
In addition to this month’s report, I was extremely blessed with the opportunity to attend and facilitate our first healing circle and JR Cooks memorial. This event took place at the FAM museum in Oklahoma City. The unity staff along with other regional representatives and the two UNITY Co-presidents. I was excited to meet the other Oklahoma Native youth leaders who were awarded the honor of UNITY’s 25 Under 25. I look forward to working with their cohort and helping spread the messages of their platforms throughout the Southern Plains.
Through the Healing Circle training and Celebration of Life memorial, I was able to re-evaluate what UNITY represents. How a young Oklahoma man like me had a vision that impacted the world. As one of the emcees representing our Region, I was able to meet those who helped his vision live and grow through partnerships and people who believed in what J.R. wanted for our people. Lives were changed by J.R. simply seeing something in others, and the power and confidence that comes from being supported as a Native youth. Through the vision that Jr Cook had, so many individuals have been impacted in extremely positive ways. Through honoring such a great man’s legacy, I was reminded of the importance, never forgotten, but I was reminded that we have a purpose and a vision to carry on that ensure the success of native youth.
Elwood McClellan Jr is a member of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. Mr. McClellan is the Southern Plains Region Representative to the National UNITY Council Executive Committee. Mr. McClellan currently serves as the Chairman of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma’s UNITY youth council and has served on the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma’s Election Board where his interest in program development derived. This has all taken place during Mr. McClellan’s time at the University of Oklahoma where he recently graduated with his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Relations. With the experiences throughout his life and the material that his degree path has provided, he plans to directly apply his studies to Indigenous communities.