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UNITY Wraps Up a Successful Sold-Out Midyear Conference


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Melissa Kaszuba
February 6, 2024

Highlights included appearances by Native American celebrities and influencers, cultural sharing, and learning opportunities

Phoenix, Ariz. – Hundreds of Native youth from around the country are now armed with advocacy plans to help their tribal communities. They learned how to advocate for top issues during the UNITY Midyear Conference held February 2-4 at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel. A record 700 attendees from tribal communities throughout the United States came together to participate in workshops, breakout sessions, and cultural sharing. The star-studded lineup of speakers and presenters includes hip-hop artist Christian “SupaMan” Parrish (Apsáalooke Nation), actor Kiowa Gordon (Hualapai), visual artist Tomás Karmelo Amaya (A:shiwi/Ralámuli/Yoeme), and Netflix star Charley Hogan (Navajo) from the breakout hit “Frybread Face and Me.”

“I am always so inspired by both the speakers and youth attendees at our conferences,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY executive director. “The cultural sharing and education that happens here shows that there’s a bright future ahead for our communities.”

The event opened with a rousing keynote address and performance by Christian “SupaMan” Parrish, who spoke about challenges he overcame as a child while living on the Crow Reservation in Montana. Youth participants spent much of the conference in breakout sessions focusing on environmental, wellness, cultural, and mental health advocacy. The evening concluded with the UNITY mock pageant and social activities.

On day two, Shawn “DJ Tribal Touch” Martinez (Diné/Navajo), Senior Director of Live Presentation for the Phoenix Suns and Mercury, got the morning started and pumped up the crowd for the keynote presentation by Kiowa Gordon who plays Deputy Jim Chee on AMC’s Dark Winds. Youth attendees then participated in 40 speed workshops focused on career, education, health, and culture. The popular round dance event — featuring an Intertribal round dance as well as the O’odham Cu:dk round dance — closed the day’s events. 

The conference ended with Native youth leaders, elected by their peers, showcasing their advocacy plans to better their communities. One group called on youth and adults to work together to clean up their communities, which can lead to a cleaner environment and cleaner water. The advocacy breakouts were led by highly skilled trainers well-known in Indian Country, including Lovina Louie (Coeur d’Alene/Colville/Nez Perce), Tommie Ghost Dog (Burns Paiute/Oglala Lakota), Eileen Crocker (White Mountain Apache), and J’Shon Lee (White Mountain Apache).

Throughout the weekend, several colleges, Native artists, and Native-focused organizations participated as exhibitors. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians was the presenting sponsor for the conference. Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation sponsored lunch, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Gila River Indian Community were champion sponsors. Other sponsors included ASU, Agua Caliente Band of Cahulla Indians, APS, Apache Tribe of San Carlos, Chicken Ranch Rancheria Me-Wuk Indians of California, Daughters of the American Revolution, Freeport-McMoRan, Marquez and Melanie Quintero, Red Lake Nation, and San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians. 

UNITY’s National Conference will take place in Portland, Oregon, June 29-July 3. Registration is now open, with early bird rates available through March 31. Visit for more information.


Founded in 1976, United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native Youth. UNITY’s mission is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 14 -24, and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. UNITY’s network currently includes 274 affiliated youth councils in 34 states. Youth Councils are sponsored by Tribes, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges, urban centers, and others. UNITY’s signature event is the National UNTY Conference, held each summer in various states. It is the longest largest Native American and Alaska Native youth leadership conference in the country, with more than 2,000 attendees annually.