UNITY youth featured as thousands attend the
Phoenix Mercury Native American Heritage Night
Mesa, AZ – Thousands of Native American basketball fans traveled from all parts of Arizona and around the country to Phoenix earlier this week (August 5) to see Atlanta Dream’s Shoni Schimmel in action as her team took on WNBA leader Phoenix Mercury. The Phoenix Mercury capitalized on an anticipated large audience by hosting Native American Heritage Night and featuring United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) as a benefiting charity. The near sell-out crowd roared and held up homemade signs as “Showtime Shoni” entered the game midway through the first quarter. “It was a great feeling. It felt like a home game for us, especially being in Indian Country,” said Schimmel, a member of the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indians.
“I was like I can’t believe this is happening. It was powerful seeing all the Natives. It was so loud, I didn’t even hear her name announced when she was introduced. It was awesome to be there representing my tribe,” said Carrie Hood, 20, Miss Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation. “I never thought I would have met Shoni Schimmel but to have her autograph on my necklace and to be recognized at a game she played at was truly humbling,” said Layha Spoonhunter, 24, Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho, who flew in from Wyoming for the game. Both Hood and Spoonhunter were recognized with other UNITY youth during halftime festivities.
Native youth in the Phoenix area received free tickets to attend the Arizona Diamondbacks' game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, July 31 at Chase Field.
The Nick Lowery Youth Foundation partnered with UNITY and donated 100 tickets to UNITY for distribution to Native American youth. The complimentary tickets were a gift from the foundation for UNITY's use in "celebrating the wisdom, power, and purpose of today's Native youth".
The tickets were distributed to several youth organizations in the local area including UNITY youth councils, youth of the Phoenix Indian Center, and other groups that help the underserved and less remembered urban Native American youth demographic.
The following story is from a July 15 UNITY News Release.
More than 1,400 Native youth leaders converge
in Portland, Oregon for the National UNITY Conference
The National UNITY Council, made up of youth representatives from affiliated youth councils, hosted the proceedings, as they were responsible for developing the agenda, which tackles various youth issues in Indian country. Native youth face similar challenges as all American youth but statistics show the issues such as suicide, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and high school drop out rate are dangerously amplified. Once the conference was called to order after the ceremonial lighting of the UNITY Fire, youth were immersed in leadership development through educational keynotes, activities, and workshops focusing on the areas of spiritual, physical, social, and mental development.
If you attended the 2014 National UNITY Conference, please take a few minutes to complete an online evaluation questionnaire that will help guide UNITY in planning and organizing the 2015 conference. The online questionnaire will take approximately six to eight minutes to complete. After entering your answers into the online form, submit it by clicking the NEXT/DONE buttons.
Thanks for attending the conference and taking the time to help make next year's event even better. Your comments and suggestions are always welcomed and valued.
The online survey is available HERE.
The make up of the UNITY Council of Trustees (CoT) changed at its June 29, 2014 meeting in Portland, OR.
Jan English stepped down from the Council after having served as a dedicated leader and champion for Native youth for more than three decades. She’s the only Trustee who has been a part of UNITY since it was founded in 1976 by JR Cook. Mary Kim Titla, UNITY Executive Director, stated, "The UNITY family appreciates all of the time, energy and passion that Jan brought to her leadership role on the Council. We wish her the very best and every happiness as she continues her involvement in the Native community and enjoys her retirement with her husband and family."
Two new members, Henry Lozano and Tyler English-Rush, were added to the UNITY leadership team.