MESA, AZ – UNITY hosted its annual midyear conference at Phoenix Hilton Resort at the Peak, bringing together more than 400 attendees from tribal communities across the U.S. Keynote speakers included Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Indigenous land protector Quannah ChasingHorse, and America’s Got Talent finalist Brooke Simpson. D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai and rappers Lil Mike and Funny Bone from the show Reservation Dogs also presented at the conference.
“We were so excited to see so many of our Native youth in person at the conference, after a long period of online meetings,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY Executive Director. “We did provide a virtual option for those who wanted to participate from a distance, but to see everyone come together for learning, sharing, and celebrating this year was very special.”
Native American and Alaska Native youth and advisors from rural and urban tribal communities participated in captivating leadership workshops that emphasized Native American storytelling, culture, and skill sets. Native youth also engaged with various exhibitors including several colleges, local businesses, and Native American organizations who provided helpful information and resources to the future tribal leaders. UNITY founder J.R. Cook passed away on Feb. 25, but his spirit lived on in the sharing and learning that took place over the course of the weekend.
UNITY conference sponsors, partners, and donors included: The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians; San Carlos Apache Tribe; Freeport McMoRan; Pauma Band of Mission Indians; REDW; Bowman Consulting; San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians; Prescott-Yavapai Indian Tribe; The Mohegan Tribe & The Mohegan Sun; The Chickasaw Nation; McCabe CPA Group; John Templeton Foundation; Common Counsel Foundation; IllumiNative; OJJDP; Bank of America; National Center of American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED); Phoenix Suns Charities; Comcast NBC Universal; Arizona Public Service; Fund for Shared Insight; Glenn and Jan English; Kirk and Lynn Kickingbird; John Mosley and Mary Kim Titla; Chance and Tyler Rush; and Mr. & Mrs. Marquez Quintero.
The National UNITY Conference will take place July 8-12 in Minneapolis, MN.