Native youth organization UNITY moves to Arizona

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/16/2014 08:58 AM
MESA, Ariz. – After calling Oklahoma home for more than 37 years, the United National Indian Tribal Youth organization celebrated its the relocation with a grand opening at its new headquarters on Dec. 30 at 1 N. MacDonald Drive, Suite 312 in Mesa.

“We are excited about beginning this new journey for UNITY with the official headquarters now being in Arizona” Mary Kim Titla, executive director, said. “The move makes sense for the organization on many levels, we are the largest Native-youth network organization in the country with more than 132 youth councils in 35 states. The Phoenix-metro area provides an environment that allows us to flourish.”

Titla was selected as UNITY’s new leader in spring of 2013 when former Executive Director J.R. Cook stepped down after more than three decades of service.

Native youth leaders serving on the executive committee for the National UNITY Council and special guest speakers, including tribal leadership and dignitaries from the local area, attended the open house.

UNITY is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering the spiritual, mental, physical and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native youth and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. UNITY has impacted more than 150,000 Native Americans through its programs since 1976.

For information, visit www.unityinc.org.

People

BY STAFF REPORTS
06/29/2016 04:00 PM
ANAHEIM, Calif. – Cherokee Nation citizen and Cherokee Nation Businesses staff attorney Tralynna Scott recently spoke at the inaugural Native American Women’s Leadership Training conference in Anaheim. The conference, presented by Native Nation Events’ Leadership Solutions Group, is designed to provide participants with tangible solutions in developing and fostering leadership abilities within tribal communities. “Historically, Cherokee Nation was a matriarchal society where women held great responsibility and power within the tribe,” Scott said. “I feel we should honor our culture and give great reverence to women, especially our elders. I participate in events like this to encourage not only female leadership, but leadership in general, and to honor those who came before us and paved the way for us to continue their accomplishments.” Scott said she’s dedicated her career to her tribe while volunteering to encourage education and promote leadership, as well as supporting Native American youth. She serves her alma mater as the assistant director of Native American Student Recruitment for the Native American Alumni of Notre Dame board of directors and volunteers as an attorney and advocate for Native American children involved in deprivation cases with Tulsa Lawyers for Children. “My only wish for the next generation is they build upon the work we are doing now, and do it even better through education and innovation,” Scott said. “The best way to continue improving as a tribe is through supporting our youth and ensuring they have the opportunities to obtain the best education possible.” Scott said she encourages the youth she legally represents to do well academically and use it as a means of broadening their educational opportunities and experiences. She said she also regularly participates in college fairs and other higher education recruiting activities as part of her ongoing effort to promote education, especially within Native American populations. Scott joined CNB as a financial analyst executive intern in 2005. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Notre Dame in 2006, a master’s degree from the University of Tulsa, a juris doctorate from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 2013 and a Master Certificate in human resources from Cornell University in 2015.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/26/2016 10:00 AM
WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack has appointed Dr. Charles Gourd to the Forest Resource Coordinating Committee as an Indian tribe representative. Gourd, a Cherokee Nation citizen from Keys, Oklahoma, said he “considers it an honor and privilege to serve” on the national board. “My work through the years has been to find resources that promote, preserve and protect forest areas in Indian Country. The USDA is a tremendous resource that enables multiple interests in agricultural pursuits, including forest management, to coordinate and share the benefits of our magnificent forest resources,” he said. The committee provides coordination within the USDA, state agencies and private-sector interests to effectively address national priorities for private, non-industrial forest conservation. There are 20 members of the committee who work with the U.S. Forest Service, which includes the National Parks, state agencies and the 20 percent of all U.S. forests that are in private ownership. “This opportunity became available when a classmate from the Kennedy School of Government, Steve Kohen, left as head of the State of Maryland Forest Service to become the director of Cooperative Forestry at USDA,” Gourd said. “He contacted me and indicated that a position to represent Indian Country was open on the committee and that I had been nominated. That set in motion a series of letters of recommendation from a number of elected leaders of Indian Nations and individuals who had an interest in USDA and the Forest Service.” Gourd thanked Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby, Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton, Muscogee (Creek) Nation Chief Bill Fife and Pam Kingfisher, who serves as the regional director of the USDA Farm to School program, for “their timely and complementary letters” that helped provide him the opportunity to serve on the committee. “Most of all, I look forward to providing information both to the Forest Service, Indian tribes and nations, public and private forest owners, as well as the general public who shares our interests and desires for preservation of our great national forest resources. This will be a great learning experience and my hope is to provide meaningful representation to the entities involved,” Gourd said.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
06/23/2016 08:15 AM
OWASSO, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Katherine Horne recently helped the Owasso High School’s girls golf team bring home the Class 6A state title. Sixteen-year-old Horne, who will be a junior at Owasso in the fall, shot a personal-best 76 in the tournament’s second round. The score was 15 strokes better than the 91 she shot in the first round. “We won 6-A state title in golf. I personally shot myself all-time career low of 76, helping clinch our teams victory,” Horne said. Horne said she wants to attend college after graduating, but is also keeping her options open. “I plan on attending college and majoring in pre-med or engineering. I am currently interning at St. John’s hospital two times weekly and gaining exposure to a variety of areas of interests. I’m proud to represent the Cherokee Nation.”
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
06/22/2016 08:15 AM
FORT GIBSON, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Emilee Rigsby has been playing golf at Fort Gibson Public Schools since eighth grade. After years of hard work, she will attend Northeastern State University this fall on a golf scholarship. “I’ve grown up playing sports, so I always wanted to play in college, and I was really wanting to go to NSU because it’s close enough to home, but it’s not in the same town,” she said. “(Head NSU golf) Coach (Scott) Varner didn’t contact me. I actually contacted him and he’s never recruited from Fort Gibson at all. So I contacted him a couple of times, and he actually contacted me back and we never met. He never came and watched me play, which is what most college coaches do. He just told me to keep him updated on my scores and everything, and after I told him we went for a visit and then like the next day, or a couple days later, he actually offered the scholarship. There wasn’t any question. I accepted as soon as he said it.” Rigsby said she is excited to join the golf team at NSU. “Their women’s team did really good this year, and they have a really solid team so I really hope to fight and get one of those top five spots and play because a lot of times you go to the colligate level and you don’t play as a freshman,” she said. “So it’d be awesome to actually get to play a few tournaments as a freshman, but I mean the way I see it is you’re not expected to play every single tournament, so just work as hard as I can and just do the best I can and hopefully it’ll pay off.” During the years at the Class 4A Oklahoma girls golf championship, she placed eighth in 2013, second in 2014, third in 2015 and second in 2016. She said she was also named the 2015 South Central Junior PGA “Player of the Year.” Rigsby said while in high school she also competed in basketball and softball, but her main focus was golf. “It means a lot to me because it’s an individual sport. You work and you do your best and you pay off for it. So it’s unlike other sports where you count on the team…It’s all on you,” she said. “It’s really helped me grow as a player and as a person just knowing that you know you have to do the best you can and you will either learn from it or benefit from it.” Rigsby said while at NSU she plans to major in criminal justice. “If golf does happen to happen I’d love to do that. But I actually want to major in criminal justice because I want to be a forensic nurse, so I’ll have to major in criminal justice and go somewhere else to get my nursing, but I hope to get that while I’m there,” she said.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
06/20/2016 08:45 AM
WASHINGTON – Cherokee Nation citizen Cierra Fields has for several years advocated on the dangers of skin cancer, but during the past two years she’s crusaded against sexual assault and violence against women following her rape at 2014 conference. Her educating the public about sexual assault got the attention of several people who nominated the 16-year-old for the initial United State of Women Summit that was held in June in Washington, D.C. Around 10,000 women were nominated and about 5,000 were selected to attend the conference. Of those 5,000, White House officials recognized eight women, and Fields was among them. In receiving this recognition, she gave interviews to media networks covering the event. “I’m humbled to be nominated,” Fields said. “My work to educate others about sexual assault and violence against women was the main part of my nomination.” On the conference’s first day, Fields said Vice President Joe Biden gave an excellent speech about ending rape culture. “And (actress) Mishka Hartigay is working on getting all rape kits tested. I’m determined to bring those topics back to Cherokee Nation and Indian Country,” she said. “With the Stanford rape (Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer was convicted of raping an unconscious woman and given a 6-month sentence) case outcome, the violence against women has been a major topic during this summit. As a survivor myself, I shared my thoughts in our groups encouraging the increase in the statute of limitations, more transparency in the legal system regarding sexual assaults, improved training for DA (district attorney) when dealing with victims and proper sentences for those convicted of rape. Rapists need to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” Fields added that by attending the summit she has been inspired and energized by the speakers. “I learned much on topics that I hadn’t even considered. I was able to share my thoughts in breakout sessions about the realities of being a Native and a woman in this country,” she said. “I am making partnerships with various organizations that I hope to bring back to Cherokee Nation to improve the lives of all Cherokee women. This summit has been life changing. I am dedicated to lending my voice to helping improve the lives of women, especially Native women. We have come so far but there is much work to still be done.” For more information on the summit, visit <a href="http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org" target="_blank">http://www.theunitedstateofwomen.org</a> or by using the Twitter hashtag #StateOfWomen.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
06/17/2016 08:15 AM
BARTONVILLE, Texas. – Cherokee Nation citizen Kelsey Landrum was recently selected to represent North and South America in the ASICS “Beat the Sun” relay. Landrum and five teammates, all amateur runners, were expected to run against the sun to complete a 15-hour, 41-minute relay on June 21 around Mont Blanc in the Alps. The mountain lies between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and Savoie and Haute-Savoie, France. “The six of us will divide up about 93 miles of the race into various legs to run around the mountain and hopefully do it before the sun sets,” the 20-year-old said. “It’s just a really unique event too because you’re racing against kind of yourself and your mind. It’s incredibly challenging. But you’re also racing against other teams, and then you have kind of the third element of racing against, not necessarily just time but the sun, against nature. It’s very challenging but I’m looking forward to it.” “The Americas” team was slated to compete against the “Europe,” “Africa” and “Asia-Pacific” teams. Landrum said before the race she and her teammates would train and adjust to Mont Blanc’s altitude. The mountain is 15, 777 feet tall and the highest in the Alps. “I’ll arrive there on the (June) 16, and so we have from the (June) 16 until the (June) 21 to adjust to the altitude and train with our team for the first time and do different press events and just enjoy our time there,” she said. Landrum said the representation of diversity is something that stands out to her about the race. “I think this race is really unique in that every single person, even everyone within each team is from a very different background. Different countries, different cultures, different heritages and so something that’s really, I think, been highlighted is our diversity,” she said. “I am really excited to share with everyone that I am a Cherokee (Nation) citizen, and share some of our culture with them, too. I think this is just a very exciting opportunity to do that, and I think everyone is just so excited to be apart of something that combines so many different cultures.” Landrum said she’s been running since middle school but struggled with “un-diagnosable leg paralysis” and an “unknown mass” in her right hamstring, which kept her from running for years. She said after years of “therapy, training and unwavering determination” she was able to run again. Landrum said recently running some half marathons is what gave her the confidence to apply for the race. “The last two half marathons I did I was third overall…in one of them and then seventh in a different one and that was out of about 600 to 700 women,” she said. “That was just so fun and definitely some of the most challenging races. I think definitely where I really started to remind myself that, ‘OK, I can do this. I definitely should apply for this race.’” She said being accepted to represent “The Americas” was a “surreal” experience and means “everything” to her. “I think just the fact that such a large running corporation and the runners that I look up to, or have looked up to for so long that, you know, they saw something in my running and in me that they wanted to help me and help me learn and everything,” she said. “I think that that’s just so incredible and humbling, and I’m so grateful for that and just to be able to represent our Cherokee Nation and the U.S. and the Americas is such an incredible opportunity.”