UNITY Wraps Up Midyear Conference

UNITY 2023 Midyear Conference

MESA, AZ – UNITY hosted its annual midyear conference February 23-26 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Phoenix-Tempe, bringing together more than 600 participants from tribal communities throughout the United States.

“Every year, our youth councils and speakers raise the bar with their attendance participation at the midyear conference,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY Executive Director. “It’s so inspirational to see so many young people from across the country sharing experiences, learning, and bonding positively.”

Native American and Alaska Native youth and advisors from rural and urban tribal communities across the U.S. came together for learning, cultural sharing, and collaboration. Following a powerful opening presentation from Anderson, the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes facilitated a street hockey clinic for the youth attendees. The evening concluded with UNITY’s first O’odham Cu:dk (O’odham Social Dancing).

Day two of the conference included a welcome message by Governor Stephen R. Lewis of the Gila River Indian Community, a panel on Indigenous women in film, 38 speed workshops, and the annual UNITY round dance. Native youth produced UNITY news video segments that were shared each day of the conference. On the final day, and a highlight for many participants, is when selected youth participants shared their final advocacy projects after completing the “Lighting the Fire” 10-step curriculum. Youth shared their ideas on how to address challenges in their tribal communities.

The event also included a variety of career and college exhibitors and Native American artisans. Major sponsors for the midyear conference included Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Mohegan Tribe, Poarch Creek Indians, The Squamish Tribes, APS, Arizona Coyotes, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Bank of America, National Education Association, National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Titan Facility Services LLC, National Indian Education Association, REDW Advisors & CPAs, the Vadon Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Marquez Quintero, Gila River Broadcasting Corporation, and the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise.