Spotlight on the Anadarko UNITY Council – UNITY, Inc.

Spotlight on the Anadarko UNITY Council

View the Anadarko UNITY Council Photo Gallery for a collection of pictures of this outstanding youth group.

The Anadarko UNITY Council (AUC) started in 2006 and has become very active in the National UNITY Network both locally and on the national level.  The mission of the AUC is to provide positive youth leadership development through local, regional, national, and international activities.  The combination of special projects, leadership training and networking is a key component to the Anadarko UNITY Council experience.

When asked why the youth of Anadarko have a UNITY Council, the general consensus of the council is: “UNITY gives us something to be a part of! We can stay active in the community and stay out of trouble.”

One member stated at a meeting, “I love UNITY!  If it wasn’t for UNITY I would just be at home watching TV or getting into trouble!”

This statement sums up what each member feels about the council, but it goes much deeper than that.  Not only does the AUC give them something to do, but it gives them different outlets to explore future careers and personal development.  Since 2006, the Anadarko Council members have had multiple opportunities to attend state-wide UNITY conferences, special gatherings with other UNITY councils in Oklahoma, National UNITY Conferences, other National Conferences, and participate in International Video Conferences and Trips.

The council just finished the final year of the Celebrate Native Health Project and are now discussing plans and activities that will keep the project going beyond the funding.  Through the CNH Project, the council members created the Healthy Heroes.  The council members used the life-sized vegetable costumes to promote healthy living through physical activities and healthy eating in their school district and other venues.  They even filmed a 30 – second Public Service Announcement that aired on CBS for an entire year.

The AUC also holds other events throughout the year, both for fun and for the community.  The council has held a Haunted Trail for the past two years, numerous dances and recently, the first annual UNITY Day of Anadarko on New Year’s Day with speakers, Chance Rush and Emcee One.  The council had a day of fun, food, games, and ended with a dance in one of the school gymnasiums.

The council members also participate in local cultural events such as pow-wow’s, tribal dances like the Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society Ceremonial or the Wichita Annual Dance, and community events such as the Anadarko Indian Exposition.  They participate in the school’s Indian Education Program through the Anadarko Dance Troupe and through the High School and Middle School Indian Clubs.   The members also provide community service throughout the year through local organizations and groups.  Council members have assisted with clean-up projects, painting projects, and helped distribute toys at the local Christian Center of Anadarko.

The AUC Members have also been active with environmental activities and projects for several years through the International Indigenous American Indian Initiatives partnership with Dr. Jonathan Hook of the University of North Texas.  This partnership began in March 2007 with the first Indigenous Digital Video Conference (DVC) between AUC Members and Indigenous youth from Russia and Malaysia.  The purpose of the DVC was to discuss and contrast environmental issues in the respective communities -and then develop projects and strategies that would foster improvements for the future.  The 2nd and 3rd DVC’s took place on the UNT campus in Denton, Texas in 2008 and 2009.

The IIAII partnership also helped to create the first ever International Summit on Indigenous Environmental Philosophy which was co-hosted by the Anadarko UNITY Council on April 26-29th at the Red Stone Church & Conference Center near Anadarko, OK.  The group followed the Summit with a trip to Denton, Texas for the 4th DVC held with AUC Members, Summit participants, and youth from Russia and Malaysia.

This event was a high light for the AUC as Indigenous Professionals from around the world came to discuss environmental issues facing our cultures and communities.   The delegation met during this time and began forming the Red Stone Statement titled “Leave Us A Future”.  This statement was supported by the Indigenous Youth of Red Stone’s Statement of Support, which was developed by AUC Members and submitted on May 1st, 2010.  For more information on the Summit participants and to read the statements you can go to the summit website at: http://indigenousenvirosummit10.unt.edu/

The IIAII partnership created multiple outlets and opportunities for indigenous youth from four continents to have dialogue on environmental issues and share their cultural knowledge through video conferencing.  The partnership also allowed for face to face networking through several opportunities, with the Summit being the latest event.  Prior to the summit – AUC members – Erin Beaver and Kandess Gonzales had the opportunity to travel to the Altai Republic in Russia to attend an international summit – which was followed by a visit of five Altai teachers to the Anadarko Public Schools.

These examples are just a glimpse of the events that have developed since the beginning of the AUC.  They are glad for the opportunities that have developed so far and look forward with excitement toward future possibilities.  The Anadarko UNITY Council started out as a small group of youth in the Anadarko Indian Education Center and has since grown into a group that has discovered they can make a difference.  They have learned that with planning and creativity they can develop projects and connections not just on the local level but across the world.  The AUC Members want to encourage other council’s to begin developing ideas and stick with them.  Other people may not agree or may speak against your ideas, but they can lead to exciting opportunities.  The Healthy Heroes wouldn’t have been a reality had it not been for the tenacity of the council members who kept pushing their idea until the adults finally listened.   So keep attending your council meetings and submitting your ideas – you never know where they may lead your group.

For more information on the AUC you can contact them through the UNITY office or by emailing [email protected].