Students taking part in a friendship circle at the Today’s Native Leaders Training.
Published April 29, 2016
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — About 60 Native American youth and their advisors from tribes across the nation came together to brainstorm community service projects at a leadership training earlier this month in St. Paul, Minnesota. 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 at the Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront Hotel.
Navajo students sharing their culture to recognize UNITY’s 40th Birthday
The free TNL training, which focused on culturally relevant leadership development, included curriculum promoting team building activities, action planning & event promotion, developing community service projects, and “How to create a UNITY youth council.” Several UNITY youth leaders served as youth facilitators and peer trainers.
Tribal groups and individuals represented at the UNITY TNL Training included:
- Hardrock Community Youth – Kykotsmovi, Arizona
- Ain Dah Yung (Our Home) Center – St. Paul, Minnesota
- Native Youth Coalition of Cass Lake-Bena – Cass Lake, Minnesota
- Trek North Jr and Sr High School – Bemidji, Minnesota
- Little Earth of United Tribes Youth Council – Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Lower Sioux – Morton, Minnesota
- Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe – Various communities, Minnesota
- Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, Owyhee, Nevada
- Seneca Nation Native Connections – Salamanca, New York
- Lac Courte Oreilles Youth Council – Hayward, Wisconsin
The training was led by renowned youth leadership trainers Robert Johnston, Choctaw, and Marcus Guinn, Osage andPotawatomie, and peer facilitators Nataanii Hatathlie, Navajo and Leslie Locklear, Lumbee. “The ‘Today’s Native Leader’s’ Program in Minnesota was so much more than a training! It was a breath of fresh air, a re-invigoration! There is nothing more powerful than seeing Native youth on fire to change their communities!” said Locklear.
Students participating in team building activities at the Today’s Native Leaders Training.
“The Today’s Native Leaders training provided a sense of growth and renewal for our young people to effectively lead their community service projects upon returning home. Leslie and I could not be more impressed with everyone’s dedication and effort. The results of the project presentations on the final day showed a shining sense of excitement to take action for change,” said Hatathlie.
Youth participant Marco Ovando, Shoshone-Paiute, added, ”This past weekend has really opened my eyes to what Native youth can accomplish together. The people were extremely welcoming and helped make this weekend so special to me! The Today’s Native Leaders program, in my opinion, is a program EVERY Native youth should take part in.”
The TNL initiative will offer tribal youth leadership training in other regions over the next year-and-a-half. Future trainings have been scheduled for Alaska and California in 2016; and Massachusetts in 2017. The trainings will expand the number of UNITY youth councils and youth-led community service projects.