General Session 3 - July 23
Singer-songwriter, Poet, Actress, 2x New York Times Best Selling Author + Mental Health Expert
Jewel went from a girl who grew up with no running water on an Alaskan homestead, to a homeless teenager in San Diego, to an award winning, Multi-Platinum Recording Artist who released one of the best-selling debuts of all time.
Through her career Jewel has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, earned 26 Music Award nominations, including The Grammys, American Music Awards, MTV Awards, VH1 Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Country Music Awards, winning 8 times. Jewel has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, Rolling Stone, performed on Saturday Night Live, at the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, for The Pope and The President Of The United States. She has experimented with several genres over her career with top hits in Folk, Pop, Club, Country, Standards, Children's and Holiday music.
Mental health and mindfulness has been a lifelong passion of Jewel’s. She offers free mindfulness exercises and an online mental health community at JewelNeverBroken.com.
2020 marks a momentous year for Jewel — she is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her multi-platinum debut album, “Pieces of You” with an exclusive Anniversary package of the album to be released later this year by Craft Recordings. It will give listeners a vivid insider’s look at how this album came to be, collecting all relevant rarities and previously unissued tracks in one place. In addition, Jewel has been hard at work on a new studio album and a forthcoming book. Both will be released next year with a live tour to support.
Radmilla Cody is a Grammy-nominated musician who has won multiple Native American Music Awards, is one of NPR's 50 great voices, 46th Miss Navajo Nation, a Black History Maker honoree, and an advocate against domestic abuse and violence. She is the subject of the award-winning documentary "Hearing Radmilla," which explores her journey as an activist and international performer.
Alyssa grew up with connection to her culture, and with a strong focus on education: Alyssa grew up in Seattle where she was active in sports and organizations that kept her connected with her Alaska Native community and Indigenous heritage as a Tlingit Tribal Member. Throughout her
childhood she would visit her family in Ketchikan, Alaska. As she grew up, she attended Stanford University where she graduated with honors in 2012 including becoming a 2011 National Udall Scholar and an elected youth board advisor of Sealaska Corporation.
What began as Alyssa’s three-pronged approach to her year of service as Miss Alaska USA continue as topics she is still deeply passionate about today. She loves sharing the vitality of Native Culture, inspiring others to reach high levels of education, and inspiring women to pursue entrepreneurship.
Kevin J. Allis is the current Chief Executive Officer at the National Congress of American Indians and is a member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community. Allis has years of experience working in Washington, D.C. as both an attorney and government relations practitioner. Throughout his career, he has a demonstrated track record in leadership capacities and is fluent in building strong working relationships with key congressional offices, relevant administrative agencies, and other advocacy organizations, to strategically advance top priorities for Indian Country. Kevin’s previous roles include Executive Director of the Native American Contractors Association, Board Chairman of the Potawatomi Business Development Corporation, and founder of Thunderbird Strategies, LLC, a government relations firm specializing in advocacy of Native American rights. Alongside practicing Federal Indian Law and serving as a Labor and Employment litigation attorney, he is a former law enforcement officer who served the Baltimore Police Department for 8 years.
Mandy Van Heuvelen manages the Cultural Interpreter Program at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC. She joined the museum in 2009 and leads a team of diverse interpreters who provide inclusive and engaging educational experiences to over 40,000 visitors annually. She was the guiding force behind the re-development of the museum’s student programs that inspire students to think critically about the persistence of social, economic, and racial inequalities in the Indigenous nations of the Western Hemisphere.
Jamie Ishcomer-Aazami is a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and has extensive experience serving Indian Country at the regional and national level. Before joining NCUIH, Ms. Ishcomer had the honor of working at the California Rural Indian Health Board and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) where she provided training and technical assistance to support Tribal public health infrastructure development. Most recently she was a Senior Analyst at the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) where she supported state and territorial public health infrastructure development through a quality improvement lens. Ms. Ishcomer is passionate about addressing health disparities for American Indians and Alaska Natives and is devoted to transdisciplinary problem solving and systems and performance improvement. She received her BS in Community Health and minor in American Indian Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with her Masters of Public Health and Masters of Social Work where she was a Scholar with the Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies.
Christina Haswood is a member of the Navajo Nation and her clans are Tódích'íí'nii nishłí Dibé Łizhiní bashishchiin Naasht'ézhi Tábąąhá dashicheii Kinyaa'áanii dashinalí. She recently graduated with her Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in Management from the University of Kansas Medical Center. Than previously earned her B.S. in Public Health from Arizona State University and her A.S. in Community Health from Haskell Indian Nations University. Her experience ranges from public health research and policy at all levels of government including Tribal through nine internships across the country. Several recent research projects she has been apart of include alternative and electronic tobacco in American Indian College students, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP), and COVID-19 Effects on Urban Indian Health Programs. She currently works at the Center for American Indian Community Health at KU Med while running as a candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives in District 10. Christina is ready to bring her public health expertise to the state capitol and to serve as a voice for vulnerable communities.
Hired August 2019 at the Democratic National Committee (DN)C) Native American Political Director. Worked at EMILY’s List to create their first Native American Run-to-Win Training for Native women to get elected to political office (2018-2019). Served two terms as elected representative for the Tulalip Tribes as a Board of Director (2013-2018). Served seven years as a policy analyst for Tulalip Tribes (2006-2013). Co-Chair for Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) Native Vote (2008-current). Founding member and Co-Chairperson for Native Vote WA (2007-2013). Currently serves as National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Co-Chair for the Safety & Justice Sub-Committee (2017-current) and UW Native American Advisory Chair since 2017.
Advocate for social justice (#BLM, #WaterIsLife, #ProtectTheSacred, #ChangeTheName, #NativeVote), full Oliphant fix, upholding and strengthening tribal sovereignty and the trust responsibility, Protecting sacred places, empowering and full funding for Tribal education, language programs, and health care is a human right as well as a treaty right.
2018 Accepted the NCAI Government Leadership Award on behalf of the Tulalip Tribes for our work around the Tribal Provisions in VAWA. 2017 Awardee of the Enduring Spirit Award from the Native Action Network. 2009 Awardee for Pearl Capoeman-Baller Civic Engagement Award from the Potlatch Fund for WA Native Vote Engagement. Graduated from WWU with a BA in Law & Diversity in 2005.
Robert is a founding member of the Native Wellness Institute and a popular Native American speaker and coach who has served Indian Country for over 15 years. He uses humor, storytelling, and music in his highly interactive presentations. As a leadership trainer for youth, Robert has served many organizations including White Bison, United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY), National Congress of American Indian (NCAI), and the Native Wellness Institute. He is a certified hypnotist and has studied Sports Motivation. Robert’s hypnosis shows have delighted Native communities all over the United States and Canada.
Juanita Christine Toledo has invested her time into her Jemez Pueblo community as well as the lives of Native Youth throughout the Nation. She continues to push for the spiritual, mental, and physical well-being of Native people. Juanita is a beautiful example of an inspiring mentor and contributes to positive growth for our future. She is passionate about positive youth development, creative expression, personal wellness, and the raising of the human consciousness.
Nearly all our ceremonial ways are centered around the use of air, water, pant life, animal life, and the use of fire. For this reason, a member of the 1995 Executive Committee of the National UNITY Council by the name of SleepyEye LaFromboise (Seneca/Dakota) asked one of his grandfathers, Warren Skye (Seneca) pictured, how UNITY could utilize these elements during the national conference. At the time, "Grandpa Skye" explained that whenever the Nations of the Hodensaunee people meet to conduct business or have ceremonies they always utilize a fire with prayer. Since many Nations of Native youth come together during the National Conference to better themselves, the concept of the fire was presented.
During the National Conference the UNITY fire is used for ceremonial and social purposes and has provided conference attendees an opportunity for healing, spiritual nourishment and just a safe space for youth to hang out. As with all elements given to us, the fire belongs to everyone. Therefore, we ask that all conference participants who can, to spend some time taking care of the fire. Also, while around the fire, we ask that everyone be respectful.
"A fire burns within us and has so since the beginning of time. We must continue to strengthen it and keep it bright for generations to come," Warren Skye, Tonawanda Seneca Pine Tree Chief.
Grandpa Warren Skye, Conference Elder, Fire Keeper
Hunter Genia is an Anishinabe from Michigan. He has been affiliated and a supporter of UNITY since 1991 and was a part of the very first Earth Ambassadors Circle. Hunter has devoted his life toward Native Wellness working with native youth and leadership development as well as addressing mental health disparities, substance misuse, historical trauma, among our youth, families, and communities while fostering healing and resilience through culture. Hunter addressed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on mental health disparities in Indian Country and provides training and education to communities, institutions, and works with tribes to promote healing and resilience. Hunter received his Master's of Social Work from Grand Valley State University but acknowledges his first education and teacher was in our tribal culture. Hunter sits on the Council for the Saginaw, Swan Creek, and Black River Bands of Chippewa and is also a descendant of the Grand River Band of Ottawa Nations.
Sheldon Smith is Navajo. He has been part of the UNITY organization for over 15 years. He’s passionate as Native American advocate, speaker and artist. He’s passionate to encourage, educate and empower young people. He shares more than stories of character, leadership, and being an entrepreneur. He’s proudly to share his work TSM-RISE with young people across the country.
In 1994 at the National UNITY Conference in Tampa Bay, Florida, Bea Shawanda, Odawa/Pottowottomi from Wikwemikong Manitoulin Island, Ontario and her son Niso presented UNITY with a drum. A great gift from our north country, it was said that this drum is for everyone. All who can and want to sing were invited to have a seat at this drum. “Wherever it may be, the UNITY Drum is considered as an open drum, no matter what tribe or gender. All tribes have their own way and protocols and we have to respect each and everyone,” said Junior Sierra, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and a UNITY drum keeper.
At the 1994 National UNITY conference a drum keeper was selected by the singers. Bo Goins, Lumbee of North Carolina was selected as the first drum keeper. He would hold this position from 1994 to 1997. In 1998, Michael Killer, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, was selected a new drum keeper. He would keep the drum from 1998-2004.
In 2005, UNITY Founder J.R. Cook asked Junior Sierra, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, to keep the drum. He also asked Michael Killer to serve as the lead singer. These two gentlemen, both UNITY alumni, have served UNITY as the Lead Singer and Keeper from 2005 to the present.
In 2015, a UNITY song was composed by an Oklahoma singer. It was shared widely for the first time at the 2015 National UNITY Conference. You may listen to it here.
Michael Killer is Cherokee from Tahlequah, Oklahoma where he resides with his wife Jerri, and children Levi and Lennox. Michael is the lead singer for the UNITY Drum and has been singing around the drum since its installation into the organization. He has also served as member at large on UNITY's executive committee as Co-President.
Junior Sierra is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. Junior lives in Hulbert, Oklahoma with his fiancé Hannah, children Isabella, Langston, Nyla and baby Rosie. Junior has been a drum keeper for UNITY for more than 13 years. Junior supports the work of UNITY to advocate for the young people across Indian country in Social, Spiritual, Mental and Physical health.
General Session 1 - June 25
Deb successfully advocated for the Laguna Development Corporation to create policies and commitments to earth-friendly business practices. Deb is a former tribal administrator and has administered a local service provider for adults with developmental disabilities.
She is a 35th generation New Mexican who is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Laguna, and also has Jemez Pueblo heritage. After running for New Mexico Lieutenant Governor in 2014, Haaland became the first Native American woman to be elected to lead a State Party. She used her experience reaching out to communities who are often forgotten during the electoral process during the two Obama presidential campaigns. During her time as State Party Chair, she traveled to Standing Rock to stand side-by-side with the community to protect tribal sovereignty and advocate vital natural resources.
Starting in 2016, Haaland has served as an Honorary Commander of Kirtland Air Force Base which gives her a better understanding of its missions and effects on New Mexico’s economy.
After a lifetime of organizing communities to stand up for New Mexico families, Congresswoman Deb Haaland was elected as one of the first Native American women to serve in Congress. She will serve in leadership roles as the 116th Congress Freshman Class Representative to the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, House Democratic Region VI Whip (Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona) and Deputy Whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
INTO THE WEST, and in his role as Wolf in TIGER EYES based upon the novel by acclaimed author Judy Blume.
Aside from acting Tatanka performs stand-up comedy internationally throughout the U.S. and Canada. Tatanka is one of the busiest touring Native American comedians performing today. You can also catch him with the hilarious Native American Comedy group, 49 Laughs. Tatanka travels Indian Country spreading laughter and messages of motivation to all ages entertaining audiences everywhere from casinos and schools, conferences and colleges to prisons and rehab centers. Means was recognized and awarded for his comedy by being voted "Best Comedian" by Albuquerque The Magazine.
Means has also developed and launched his own screen printing company, Tatanka Clothing. Apparel designed and created to uplift and inspire cultural empowerment.
The National Indian Gaming Association recently awarded Tatanka by naming him the 2018 Entertainer of the Year.
Tatanka’s ambition and perseverance has taken him from his home on the reservation to traveling across North America. He has become a much-needed role model for all American Indian First Nations youth. Tatanka is proud to be an alcohol & drug-free sober performer and living a healthy lifestyle.
General Session 2 - July 9
Kyle Bell is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker whose films have been screened at festivals around the world. He was selected for the 2019 Sundance Institute Native Filmmakers Lab, and most recently won the 2020-21 Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, to be mentored by cinema legend Spike Lee.
Bunky Echo-Hawk is an internationally known visual artist whose work is featured in gallery and museum exhibitions throughout the U.S. and overseas. As a live painter, he has performed in major venues throughout the country. He has worked with Nike and recently partnered with Pendleton Woolen Mills to create a blanket for the American Indian College Fund. Through his art and strategic partnerships, he has aided in raising millions of dollars for Indian Country.
Lexie James, Miss Native USA, is Corn Clan from the Village of Tewa and an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe located in the Northeastern region of Arizona. While serving as MNAUSA, James has chosen to focus on mental health wellness and suicide prevention in Indian Country. She is currently employed as a youth liaison for the Hopi Opportunity Youth Initiative. When she is not traveling or working, she dedicates part of her time to serving as a board member for the non-profit Three Precious Miracles.
Cheyenne Kippenberger, Miss Indian World, is a member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and her family is of the Panther Clan. She is the proud chairwoman of "Healing the Circle in Our Tribal Communities Symposium" of the Native Learning Center. As Miss Indian World, Cheyenne strives to bring awareness to the strength and resilience of Native American and Indigenous Peoples, help destigmatize mental health, and put forth efforts in gaining quality representation in the media for Native American and Indigenous people globally. Having been strongly inspired by Congresswomen Sharice Davids and Deb Halaand, Cheyenne, who earned an associate degree in accounting from Keiser University, will pursue an additional degree in political science.
Juanita Christine Toledo is of African and Native American ancestry. She is an enrolled tribal member of Walatowa, the Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico. She's a former member of the UNITY-affiliated youth council, Native American Youth Empowerment (NAYE), and a former member of the National UNITY Council Executive Committee. Juanita advocates for community and personal health and wellness, and continues to push for the spiritual, social, mental, and physical well-being of her people. Juanita is an advisor and advocate for Native Youth through the United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) organization, serves an AIO Ambassador for the Americans for Indian Opportunity, and models for Indigenous fashion designers. She is passionate about positive youth development, creative expression, personal wellness, and the raising of human consciousness. Juanita also served as a National UNITY Council Co-President as a youth.