Today’s Native Leaders in Lower Elwha Klallam
The UNITY Today’s Native Leaders team recently traveled to the Lower Elwha Klallam tribal community in Port Angeles, Washington to conduct a peer lead community service project planning training session.
Youth groups from Squaxin Island Tribe in Shelton, Washington, Quileute Tribe from La Push, Washington and the Nimiipuu Youth Council from Lapwai, Idaho joined the more than 50 Lower Elwha youth for three exciting days of team building exercises, project planning, discussion, and presentations.
The Today’s Native Leaders peer leader team included Leslie Locklear (Lumbee), from Lumberton, North Carolina; Nataanii Hatathlie (Navajo), from Kirtland, New Mexico; Blake Dashiell (Nooksack), from Spokane, Washington; Ally Gee (Navajo), from Page, Arizona; Audri Mitchell (CRIT Navajo), from Mesa, Arizona and Marco Ovando (Paiute), from Owyhee, Nevada.
There were 12 groups that planned projects during the three-day training session. Following ice breakers and a fun session of team building exercises, youth assembled into their working groups where they mind-mapped community strengths and community challenges based on their own experiences in their home communities. They selected a service project to plan that addressed a challenge they identified following the mind mapping session. They used UNITY’s Action Planning Manual, featuring the 10-Step Action Planning Process, as a guide to build their projects
A few highlights for the youth were the presentation by Nataanii and Lynnann on how to establish a UNITY youth council in their own community that would allow them to become part of the UNITY network, and the dance on Tuesday evening, with music provided by UNITY’s own Emcee One!
After two days of planning and preparation, the groups were ready to present their service project plans to the entire group of youth in attendance. Some tribal leaders and elders also dropped in to listen to the presentations. Projects such as assisting school janitors in keeping schools clean, bake sales, clean up days at the Lower Elwha Dam, cultural events and drug and alcohol abuse awareness poster drives were described by excited and motivated youth.
Following the presentations, focus groups were convened to collect feedback from the youth participants about their impressions with the TNL training experience. A traditional honoring ceremony thanking the TNL team closed out a very enjoyable and productive time in Lower Elwha. In addition, youth from the community have already begun their planning to attend the 2018 national UNIYY conference in San Diego, California.