The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian officially welcomed UNITY Youth from across the Nation to Washington, D.C., with a UNITY Night at the Museum! One youth attendee shared that he “was nervous about coming to such a big city at first, but when we arrived, it felt good to be welcomed in such a good way at a Museum that honors our people.” Another youth shared how she “loved how it had my nation’s flag, I felt like I belonged even though I was so far away. I love every single detail about the Museum.”
Since the passage of its enabling legislation in 1989 (amended in 1996), the NMAI has been steadfastly committed to bringing Native voices to what the museum writes and presents. The NMAI is also dedicated to acting as a resource for the hemisphere’s Native communities and serving the greater public as an honest and thoughtful conduit to Native cultures—present and past—in all their richness, depth, and diversity.
UNITY was very excited to partner with NMAI for the National Conference in Washington D.C. where we had guests come and explore the museum, food, and drinks were provided, and special presentations by the Director of the Museum, Cynthia Chavez Lamar, conference blessings from UNITY’s alumni and honor song from the UNITY drum.
Indian Gaming Association Chairman also addressed the youth and honored youth leaders. Chairman Stevens impressed upon the youth the importance of their leadership, now. He said, “Throughout my years in leadership at Indian Gaming Association, I have had the honor to watch many, like you, grow into some of the most outstanding leaders in Indian Country.
Stevens added, “As I look at all of you here, I am inspired because your commitment to be here is your commitment to be here in the Nation’s Capital.
Too often, we hear the term “Our future leaders” when referring to our youth. Here in Washington, D.C., you play a very prominent role in leadership in helping to educate America about the sovereign rights of America’s first people. “You are stepping up, standing to protect the sovereignty of your tribal communities, and coming together in leadership to mentor one another in this forum.” Stevens shared.
Chairman Stevens also presented the Indian Gaming Association Chairman’s Leadership Award to UNITY 2022 -2023 representative, Co-President Colby Whitethunder, a citizen of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas, and Evynn Richardson, a citizen of the Haliwa Saponi Tribe of North Carolina and the UNITY Southeastern representative.
List of exhibits that were available to guests.
- Nation to Nation: Treaties between the United States and the American Indian Nations. “Treaties lie at the heart of the relationship between Indian Nations and the United States, and Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations is the story of that relationship, including the history and legacy of US–American Indian diplomacy from the colonial period through the present.”
- Americans: “Americans highlight how American Indians have been part of the nation’s identity since before the country began. It will surround visitors with images, delve into the three stories, and invite them to discuss why this phenomenon exists.
- Return to a Native Place: Algonquian Peoples of the Chesapeake. This compact exhibition educates visitors on the continued Native presence in the region, and provides an overview of the history and events from the 1600s to the present that have impacted the lives of the Nanticoke, Powhatan, and Piscataway tribes.