More than 2,000 Attendees Prepare for an Unprecedented Native Youth Leadership Experience

Published July 3, 2018

MESA, Ariz. More than 2,000 attendees are preparing to converge in San Diego from July 5th through 9th for the annual National UNITY Conference. The United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) is in its 42nd year of providing Native American and Alaska Native youth, between the ages of 14 to 24, a format that engages and develops leadership and community building through peer-led activities and training, workshops, and motivational content.

With a youth-driven theme of Answering the call of our ancestors”,  a variety of topics addressed by youth, their advisors, and guest speakers and presenters, will include cultural and language preservation, education, entrepreneurship, and leadership principles. In addition, challenges surrounding the epidemics youth face in their communities, such as suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, and environmental concerns, are also prominent subjects with solution finding dialogue and action planning.

“We are overjoyed about the continued growing interest in our annual event, providing a supportive environment for our Native youth to hone in on their inherent and amazing leadership skills and capabilities,” said Mary Kim Titla, UNITY’s Executive Director. “With pre-registration indicators, this will be the largest national conference for us to date, providing the most content we ever had, compressed into five incredible days,” added Titla.

The agenda includes featured guests speakers Brooke Simpson (Haliwa-Saponi), a finalist on NBC’s singing competition The Voice, Native American dancer and singer Supaman (Apsaalooke), renowned photographer Matika Wilbur (Swinomish/Tulalip), and a special panel on youth entrepreneurship led by Nike N7’s Sam McCracken (Sioux and Assiniboine), the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development CEO Chris James (Cherokee), and motivational speakers Dyami Thomas (Klamath/Leech Lake Ojibwe) and Becca Lynn (Klamath/Leech Lake Ojibwe).

UNITY’s Wellness Warriors program, in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will feature a physical fitness day with guest trainers Lyle Thompson (Onondaga) and Jeremy Thompson (Onondaga), both professional lacrosse athletes, Bellator MMA women’s flyweight world champion Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (Hawaiian), American Ninja Warrior Abram Benally (Navajo), Polynesian cultural dancers Natia O Le Pasefika (Polynesian), and UNITY youth council ACORN (Advancing Cultural Opportunities to Reclaim Nutrition).

The five-day national conference will also include the honoring of UNITY’s third class of “25 Under 25 National Native Youth Leaders” sponsored by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, UNITY Fire, UNITY Drum, UNITY Gala and Awards dinner, with musician Levi Platero (Navajo) and magician Brian Yazzie (Navajo) as pre-gala entertainment, tribal leader panels, health and fitness activities, numerous workshops, a cultural exchange night, talent show night, an education and career expo, local university campus tours, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, and daily team building and leadership training activities.

The 2018 National UNITY Conference is presented by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians with additional support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, Bank of America, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Table Mountain Rancheria, Comcast NBC Universal, Muscogee Creek Nation, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Wells Fargo, Augua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Arizona Public Service, Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation), National Education Association, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN), UC San Diego, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Pala Band of Mission Indians, Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, Tule River Tribe, CFC, Cook Native American Ministries, Network for Good, Elke Chenevey/Meryll Lynch, Titan Facility Services, LLC, Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians, Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, 12News/Tegna, and the UNITY Local Planning Committee.

Registration for the National UNITY Conference will be available on-site for $350 per attendee. Additional information about the conference and more about UNITY can be found at

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