This is an archive of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP's) electronic newsletter OJJDP News @ a Glance. The information in this archived resource may be outdated and links may no longer function. Visit our website at for current information.
July | August 2014

OJJDP and UNITY Promote "Today’s Native Leaders" Initiative at National Conference
2014 National UNITY Conference logo

On June 28–July 3, 2014, approximately 1,400 American Indian and Alaska Native youth from across the country convened in Portland, OR, for the 2014 National UNITY Conference. (Visit the photo gallery for highlights of the conference’s activities.) Established 38 years ago, UNITY—United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc.—is a national organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among tribal youth. UNITY is composed of 165 affiliated youth councils in 35 states, sponsored by tribes, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges, and urban Native centers.

Photo of Oregon Convention Center
Outside the Oregon Convention Center, conference participants gather around as the UNITY Fire is lit. This ceremony traditionally marks the beginning of the annual conference and burns continuously until the conference ends.
At the conference, OJJDP and UNITY educated youth about Today’s Native Leaders, a new initiative that will offer tribal youth leadership training in seven regions over the next 3 years. The trainings will provide culturally relevant leadership development opportunities and have been scheduled for Mesa, AZ, and Fort Lauderdale, FL, in 2014; Rapid City, IA, 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. In addition, youth trained through the initiative will have an opportunity to play leadership roles at the annual national UNITY conferences.

OJJDP staff also shared information about Today’s Native Leaders at a career and education fair at the conference and maintained an information booth throughout the event to facilitate dialogue with youth about OJJDP’s activities and priorities.

Photo of National UNITY Conference
Each year during the National UNITY Conference, a 12-member Executive Committee is elected to carry out National UNITY Council business during the period between annual meetings. S. Amanda Marshall (in red), U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, is shown here swearing in the 2014–15 Executive Committee members at the UNITY Celebration Banquet. Ms. Marshall also gave a keynote address at the banquet.

The conference, held at the Oregon Convention Center, also featured cultural exchanges, a youth talent show, a town hall with tribal leaders, a youth banquet, fitness activities, a visit to Nike world headquarters outside Portland, presentations by youth about their community service projects, and the annual election of new members of UNITY’s Executive Committee. In addition, the conference offered workshops on how to prepare to be a tribal leader, financial management, Indian law, community organizing, and traditional spirituality.

Keynote speakers at the National UNITY Conference included S. Amanda Marshall, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon; Brian Cladoosby, National Council of American Indians President and Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community; and Jude Schimmel, Louisville Cardinals senior guard and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

At the conference, UNITY’s first “25 Under 25” Youth Leadership Awards ceremony was held. The ceremony is designed to celebrate the achievements of American Indian and Alaska Native youth.

The next National UNITY Conference will take place in the summer of 2015 in Washington, DC.


A documentary about the conference and more information about UNITY are available online. To learn more about OJJDP’s tribal youth programs and services, visit the Office’s Web site.