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This area of the site provides a listing of the UNITY Council of Trustees, staff and associates, and a brief historical overview of UNITY and its activities over the past 39 years of operation.

UNITY Quick Facts

The UNITY Mission is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth and to help build a strong, unified, and self- reliant Native America through greater youth involvement.

DEFINITION OF UNITY: UNITY is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native American youth.

UNITY has an impressive track record of empowering and serving American Indian and Alaska Native youth. UNITY has earned the respect of national Native American organizations, tribal leaders, and government officials.

Read more: UNITY Quick Facts

UNITY Origin and Development

 UNITY's mission it to, "foster the spiritual, mental, physical and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth, and to help build a strong, unified and self-reliant Native America through involvement of its youth."  In keeping with its mission, UNITY has served the leadership needs of American Indian and Alaska Native youth for 39 years. UNITY is a national organization with over 145 youth councils operating in 35 states and Canada. These youth councils represent thousands of Native American youth.

UNITY began through the efforts of J.R. Cook, a Cherokee from Oklahoma, who has worked with Native youth in leadership development for more than three decades. The organization grew from a small group of interested Indian youth in southwestern Oklahoma in 1976 to a national organization today with affiliated youth councils operating in 35 states and Canada.

UNITY evolved from a series of Indian programs that Cook directed. After a successful basketball coaching stint, Cook devoted a decade of his life to the Upward Bound project at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma. At that time, it seemed to Cook there was more pressure for Indian youth to fail than to succeed.

Download this file (UNITY Constitution.pdf)UNITY Constitution[ ]355 kB

Read more: UNITY Origin and Development


This four minute video describes some of UNITY's efforts to address important issues of concern to Native youth.

UNITY Councils of Trustees Spotlight: Henry Lozano

Henry LozanoHenry Lozano (Apache) is a non-profit executive and grassroots organizer who has been a long time supporter to UNITY and advocate for Native youth. His years of public service culminated in his appointment in 2007 by President Bush to the position of Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of USA Freedom Corps. In this role he advanced the “Call to Service” initiative launched by President George W. Bush in his 2002 “State of the Union” address. Throughout his career, he has championed many causes, especially those related to substance abuse prevention and recovery programs. Henry lives in Long Beach, California.

Meet UNITY Council of Trustees Chair, Loretta Tuell

Lotetta TuellLoretta A. Tuell (Nez Perce)
Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig
Chair, UNITY Council of Trustees

Ms. Tuell is a citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe and grew up on the reservation in Lapwai, Idaho.  In 1988, she graduated from Washington State University in Pullman, WA.  She went on to graduated from UCLA School of law and for more than 20 years, she has worked in the arena of federal Indian law and policy in Washington D.C. 

Ms. Tuell recently served as the Majority Staff Director and Chief Counsel of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to Chairman Daniel K. Akaka from Hawaii and formerly served as Staff Counsel to the late Senator Daniel K. Inouye.  Loretta has held several senior positions as the Department of Interior and was appointed by President Clinton to be the Director of the Office of American Indian Trust.   In 2009, Ms. Tuell was recognized as one of five women—and the first American Indian woman in history—to receive the prestigious Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association. 

Ms. Tuell is a UNITY alumna, actively involved  since the 1980s. Since 2002, she has served as the Chair of the Council of Trustees for UNITY. In 2015, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).  She is married to Richard Guest and they are parents to Gabrielle Guest.