Native Youth Tackle Tribal Issues at Today’s Native Leaders Training in Florida
Fort Lauderdale, Florida—About 70 Native American youth and their advisors from tribes across the nation addressed issues such as suicide and loss of culture at a leadership training last week in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. United National Indian Tribal Youth, also known as UNITY, in partnership with the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) hosted the “Today’s Native Leaders” (TNL) youth leadership event in Fort Lauderdale.
The free TNL training, which focused on culturally relevant leadership development, included a curriculum promoting team building activities, action planning & event promotion, developing community service projects, and “How to create a UNITY youth council.” Several youth from the National UNITY Council Executive Committee and 25 Under 25 Leadership Program served as youth trainers.
Tribal groups represented at the UNITY TNL Training included Alabama Coushatta (Texas), Choctaw (Mississippi), Cherokee (North Carolina), Seminole (Florida), Miccosukee (Florida), Crow Nation (Montana), Poarch Band Of Creek Indians (Alabama), Muscogee Creek (Oklahoma), Lumbee (North Carolina), and Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of North Carolina.
“I worked with the Miccosukee Youth Group as a youth trainer. The task for the youth was to plan a youth led service project and implement it once they go home. This group chose to do a Community Culture Fair and have different workshops teaching traditional games, language, art and how to cook their traditional foods. These youth are amazing! I’m so proud of them and all the other youth who attended. I left the training with a happy heart and good feelings,” said Susun Fisher, 16, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and UNITY 25 Under 25 honoree.
“We had such a wonderful experience. It was an awesome training,” said Consuela Richardson, advisor from Haliwa-Saponi Tribe of North Carolina. Youth groups who attended may have the opportunity to present their final projects at the TNL National Youth Summit held in conjunction with the National UNITY Conference next July in Washington, DC.
“It was such a great experience to surround my self with other Native youth who want to see progressive change in their communities. Everyone at the training was very passionate about where they came from and who they are as Native people” said Teressa Baldwin (Inupiaq Eskimo), a UNITY 25 Under 25 honoree from Kotzebue, Alaska who participated in the TNL training. “These trainings are needed to insure that Indian Country moves forward. These trainings allow us to gain leadership skills, a sense of well-being and realization that change can happen. It is motivational to see young leaders realize that we are the leaders of today” said Baldwin.
The training was led by renowned youth leadership trainers Jeri Brunoe, Wasco Tribe, and Marcus Guinn, Osage and Potawatomie. Brunoe, who builds her leadership training techniques upon her culture and traditions, has served as a Lead Trainer for UNITY for many years. Guinn, who is also a rap artist and DJ, has served on the National UNITY Council Executive Committee.
The TNL initiative will offer tribal youth leadership training in seven regions over the next 3 years. Future trainings have been scheduled for Rapid City, SD, and Spokane, WA, in 2015; Palm Springs, CA, and Saint Paul, MN, in 2016; and Boston, MA, in 2017. Trainings will expand the number of UNITY youth councils and youth-led community service projects.