New award program to honor Native American youth
MESA, Ariz. - One of the nation's largest Native American youth organizations officially launched a new awards program that honors and recognizes Native American youth at its midyear conference in Washington D.C.
The United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) announced its 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards program which is designed to celebrate the achievements of young Native people between the ages of 14 and 25 who embody UNITY's core mission and live a balanced life developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being.
In addition to being recognized, each awardee will receive special training by UNITY over the period of one year that is designed to build on their individual achievements. The inaugural class will be recognized as UNITY ambassadors, serving as examples of Native youth leadership in Indian Country today.
Nearly 200 Native youth attended the official announcement, which included national leadership who came to show and voice their support of the new program.
"Twenty-five of you will be the top tiers we put forward as the aspiration for everybody...my family always says...it's your choice! Make good choices...honor these individuals who have made good choices," said Loretta Tuell, UNITY trustee and chairperson.
Guest speakers included Representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Associate Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Raina Thiele, Vice-President of the Round Valley Indian Tribes in California Joe Dukepoo, CEO of Heartland Energy Partners and son of long-time UNITY supporter John English and former Congressman Glenn English of Oklahoma.
Theile offered her congratulations to UNITY on behalf of the White House.
"The Obama administration strongly supports any efforts to empower our youth and to engage our Native youth and that is why I am here today," she said.
The UNITY 25 Under 25 Native Youth Leadership Awards program application is now available on UNITY's website at www.unityinc.org. The call for nominations will close on May 1. Honorees will officially be recognized at the 2014 UNITY National Convention at the Portland Convention Center on June 28 in front of more than 1,500 peers.
"UNITY will nurture a new train, expanding the opportunity for youth to build a stronger foundation in their quest to be successful in both the Native and non-Native worlds. With everyday threats to tribal sovereignty, and to our very existence, the timeliness of this announcement cannot have been better. I raise my hands to the UNITY organization for the design and implementation of this program," Dukepoo said. "I am very proud to support a program that will give the youth knowledge and wisdom to be strong leaders, strong leaders that can address issues we face throughout Indian Country, while continuing to make our ancestors proud and assuring a sustainable future for our tribes."
More information about nominating an individual for the recognition program is available by visiting UNITY's website at www.unityinc.org or by calling UNITY headquarters at (480) 718-9793.
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