Native youth organization UNITY moves to Arizona

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


Special Correspondent
07/06/2015 07:22 AM
LOS ANGELES – Oklahoma native J.C. (Jerry) High Eagle Elliott shared his experiences working at NASA, including his critical support of the Apollo 13 mission in 1970, and his perspective on life as a Native American with attendees of a presentation April 18 at the California Science Center. Elliott’s talk commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. Elliott said he was convinced early in life that he would land a man on the moon and enjoyed watching cartoons and TV programs focused on space and space exploration. He majored in physics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and became the first Native American to graduate from OU with a physics degree. From there, he began his 41-year career at NASA as a flight controller, which Elliott considers his destiny. Elliott said his Cherokee and Osage heritage played a significant role in his physics degree and NASA career. “I love physics because, more than anything else, it speaks truly to who I am as a Native American,” he said. “Natives have a unique way of seeing the world because they perceive all things as connected to one another. It’s a systems engineering view of life.” He encouraged attendees to discover what’s inside of them in terms of interests, innate talents and skills. “Life is about discovery. It’s about what’s inside you, and what you can do with it,” he said. “When I started at NASA, I can remember asking others there for technical journals and other materials that I could read to enhance my knowledge. One of my colleagues said to me, ‘we don’t read books, we write them.’” It was then that Elliott began writing the first handbook on the Agena rocket. It wasn’t long before he found himself working on the Gemini Project and continued on to the Apollo Program as an operations flight controller on console at Mission Control Center at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. And it would be the Apollo 13 project that would not only put astronauts James Lovell Jr., John Swigert and Fred Haise Jr. to the test, but the entire ground crew, including Elliott. Elliott was lead retrofire officer for the Apollo 13 mission, which was to be a lunar landing mission. Due to a system failure, the mission was aborted on route to the moon when there was a loss of service module cryogenic oxygen and consequent loss of capability to generate electrical power, provide oxygen and produce water. The cause, he said, was the explosion of an oxygen tank that blew out one-quarter side of the service module, which housed and supplied all of the power, oxygen and propellant. This resulted in a powering down of the command module, the place where the astronauts remained on the way to the moon. It was then that the lunar module was configured to supply the necessary power and other consumables for the crew to survive. Elliott said to return the astronauts safely, a new return trajectory had to be calculated and that is where his education in physics, as well as his experience at NASA, came into play. Calculating that return trajectory was like threading a needle from 70 feet away, he said. “We had to be accurate.” “Apollo 13 was a test of real leadership and how we took a potential tragedy and turned it into a success,” he said. “All of us had a conviction to ride Apollo 13 to the end. We never thought we couldn’t do it.’ Elliot also emphasized the importance of diversity in identifying solutions to issues wherever they may occur. “We all think differently and diversity of thought is important,” he said. “A lot of how we think, how we approach challenges, is based on our culture, our religion, our education. My perspective as a Native American is different from others who are not Native American. We have a connection with all of life and are part of the sacred circle of life. We are no greater or lesser than the other creatures on Earth,” he said. Elliott attributed his sense of dedication to the Apollo 13 mission to the determined spirit of his ancestors. “The Cherokee people had the tenacity to persevere on the Trail of Tears and through other adversities,” he said. “I told myself then and still tell myself now, I have their blood and I can do this.” He recounted his experience meeting Oscar Award-winning actor Tom Hanks, who starred in the “Apollo 13” movie and how he and others on that mission were asked for their comments about the movie. “Apollo 13 was a marvelous achievement among seemingly unsurmountable odds,” Elliott said. He later served as staff engineer on the Apollo/Soyuz Program, the world’s first joint Russian-American space mission and completed his lengthy NASA career supporting the Space Shuttle Program. The former NASA scientist, engineer and project manager has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Richard M. Nixon for his Apollo 13role. Other awards include the Cherokee Medal of Honor and the Navajo Medal of Honor.
Phoenix Intern
06/19/2015 08:14 AM
WISTER, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Sage Anson is one of 15 players who have been selected for the 11-and-Under USA Elite Select All American Midwest Regional Softball Team. As an elite player, the left-handed pitcher and outfielder will compete with fast-pitch players from around the country when the inaugural USA Elite Softball Tournament takes place July 13-16 in Kissimmee, Florida. “I’m most excited about going to Florida and getting to play against other regions and meeting my coaches, because they will be the Pride players that play professional softball,” Anson said. She and other Elite Select players were notified during a May 26 selection show on USA Elite Select began traveling the country in 2014 to scout for softball talent with 23 tryouts across eight regions. The competition consists of age divisions from 10-14, with 15 spots per age group, per region. “I felt very excited and very happy that I was one out of a lot of girls that got picked,” Anson said. “It was unbelievable to me, out of all those girls at all those tryouts, that I was one that made it.” As part of the Midwest region, she will be on a team of players from Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and parts of Missouri and Texas. She will also be provided two Midwest USA Elite Select jerseys for the tournament. Anson tried out on March 14 at Savage Park in Tulsa, where a USA Elite Select Committee, the National Scouting Report and USSSA Pride players Megan Willis and Brigette Del Ponte evaluated her performance as a pitcher and outfielder. The National Scouting Report then evaluates players on a scale from one to five. “You would go to batting, to pitching, then you would go to infield and outfield,” Anson said. “It was a simple process. It’s really nerve wracking, but it’s fun at the same time.” Her decision to tryout for the team was originally not with the sole intention to be selected, her father, Kevin Anson, said. “I had a friend of mine post on my Facebook page about the tryout, sort of a last minute thing,” he said. “We went more for experience than anything. We wanted to see what it was like going to a tryout like that, with the next level of players. We didn’t know where we were at and went to the tryout just hoping to do the best we could, and it ended up that she made it.” The tryout was not only informative for Sage, but her parents too, who attended a seminar meant to help parents understand their roles in the sports careers of their players. “It was mostly just how to be a good softball parent,” Kevin said. “Don’t push too hard. Encourage your kids to play hard and always keep in mind that about one in 5,000 get picked to go play college ball.” Quay Matheny, who coaches Sage’s independent team, the Tulsa Elite, said left handers are particularly skilled if they can throw four different pitches at speeds up to 50 mph. She said she hopes Sage returns with more tools in her arsenal. “I hope she goes down there and gets to meet different people, gets to learn new ways to play,” Matheny said. “Florida ball is a lot different than here in Oklahoma, so I hope she goes down there and has fun.” Sage also thanked Stacey and Hunter Gibson, her pitching and batting coaches. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without them,” she said. Sage said she is inspired by USSSA Pride player Keilani Ricketts and former Olympian Monica Abbott and that she aspires to play college softball in Florida before moving on to playing professionally. “I would like to meet some college scouts and have them tell me that they would be excited to have me when I get older,” Sage said. “That would really be an exciting moment, to know that they’re watching me.” USA Elite Select is sponsored by Boombah and provides opportunities for fast-pitch softball players to showcase their skills at high levels of competition, gain resources to further their academic careers and serve their communities, according to the organization’s website.
06/11/2015 06:59 PM
MANNFORD, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Ty Bushyhead, 17 of Mannford, will represent Oklahoma in the archery division in the upcoming 2015 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska. According to a CN press release, Bushyhead and three other Oklahoma high school students will compete as a team in the compound archery division against teams of four from 33 other states at the national competition June 21-26. Aside from being scored as a team, competitors will also scored individually during three days of shooting. Bushyhead said representing his state, town and tribe is an honor and a humbling opportunity. “I couldn’t have dreamed of anything better, to be honest, and I’m ready to go compete with my teammates and try to win a national championship for the state’s 4-H program and make everyone proud,” he said. At age 8, Bushyhead began shooting a bow, and age 13 he entered his first competition. Bushyhead said what drew him into the sport was the idea of relying on his ability. He said this also drive him to want to possibly compete collegiately at Oklahoma State University, where he plans to pursue a degree in electrical and petroleum engineering. “Archery is a single-person sport. You’re not able to rely on anybody, and no one can rely on you,” he said. “You’re solely driven by yourself, and you’re only as good as you make yourself. That’s what I like about this sport.” The release states Bushyhead and his teammates, along with the other teams, will have three rounds of shooting in different archery competitions. Targets in each round will be placed from 5 yards to 60 yards. Teams and individuals who shoot the most accurate and score the highest percentage of points possible receive top honors. Since 2012, the Oklahoma 4-H compound archery team has placed in the top 10, which includes winning the championship in 2013. “Oklahoma 4-H will be very well represented by the Compound Archery Team. This team will continue the excellence demonstrated by Oklahoma 4-H archery teams the past few years,” state 4-H Shooting Sports Program Coordinator Terry Nelson said. “These team members have worked hard to improve their archery skills in order to earn a spot on this year’s team.” Sara Trotter, of Sallisaw; Solomon Cude, of Muldrow; and Amanda Peterson, of Perry, are the other members of the state’s 4-H Compound Archery Team who will be competing alongside Bushyhead. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.Cherokee Nation citizen Ty Bushyhead has been shooting a bow since he was 8 years old.
Special Correspondent
06/11/2015 01:32 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Angel Goodrich’s WNBA career is not over yet. Within the span of a week, the Cherokee Nation citizen and Sequoyah High School alumna was affiliated with three different clubs. After two years with Tulsa, she was waived by the Shock on May 30, picked up by the Los Angeles Sparks on June 1 and then waived again at the end of training camp on June 4. Just hours before its season opener on June 6, the Seattle Storm came calling, offering Goodrich a roster spot and another shot at a third WNBA season. “When I got the call, I was all smiles,” Goodrich said. Rather than travel to Seattle for the Storm’s June 6 win over the Phoenix Mercury then back to Oklahoma, Goodrich met the team in Tulsa on June 8 when they came for an early season Western Conference match-up with the Shock at the BOK Center. Having not gotten in a full practice yet with the Storm, Goodrich spent the game in street clothes on the bench that night as her old team trounced her new team, 68-45. The switch in clubs also gives Goodrich a chance to share a backcourt with a guard she grew up watching. Seattle’s starting point guard, Sue Bird, has been with team since the 2002 draft and is an eight-time WNBA All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist. “It’s a great opportunity. I’m so happy to be part of this team,” Goodrich said. “Even in this little amount of time so far, I’ve learned a lot. I can’t wait to get things really going and get to actually play while getting a feel for Seattle’s system.” With the Storm on a three-game road trip through the Midwest, Goodrich is slated to make her Key Arena debut on June 16 versus her other former team, the Los Angeles Sparks. Seattle is scheduled to make one more regular season trip to Oklahoma on June 28. Despite her new team’s home games being played two time zones away, Goodrich said her family was already discussing potential road trips. “Obviously, it’s on the other side of the country, but they’re really excited for me,” she said. “We’re all just really happy for this opportunity.” Goodrich averaged 4.4 points and 2.9 assists for the Shock as a rookie in 2013 and 1 point and 0.8 assists last season.
06/09/2015 03:32 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Area police officers and firefighters used their mixed martial arts and boxing backgrounds to raise money for the Burn Camp of Oklahoma and Special Olympics of Oklahoma recently during the Smoke & Guns event at the Cox Business Center. One boxing bout consisted of two Cherokee Nation citizens – David Comingdeer, a CN wild land firefighter, and CN marshal Preston Oosahwee. The two weren’t scheduled to fight one another but had trouble drawing opponents in their respective divisions. So Oosahwee, who had been training for an MMA fight, switched to boxing. Oosahwee said he entered into the competition because he believes in its cause. “It’s a really good cause. They raise a lot of money. I believe last year they raised about $25,000 for both charities, so it’s just a really good cause,” he said. Comingdeer agreed that the cause was great and said the proceeds help Oklahoma children. “The Smoke & Guns Boxing/MMA competition is a charity fundraiser for the children and all the firefighter proceeds go to the Oklahoma Burn Center, and all the police proceeds go to the Special Olympics,” he said. “And both of those causes are worthy because they help the kids in Oklahoma.” This year, the event raised about $30,000 with around $18,000 coming from the fire fighters and the $12,000 coming from the police officers. Comingdeer said being a CN firefighter qualified him to compete and he competed at 205 pounds. “People were thrilled to see two Cherokees fight each other. We went in trying to represent our departments and to put on a good show and fight as hard as we could and you know, make everyone happy and proud of us and to raise a lot of money for the kids,” he said. Although Comingdeer, at age 43, lost in the third round by a technical knockout, he was grateful for his journey and added that Oosahwee, age 29, was an outstanding fighter. “I took a real righteous blow to the chin and was staggered and the referee was being very cautious with us and wouldn’t let me continue the fight,” he said. Oosahwee said he spent about six months training for the competition. He said the fight itself against Comingdeer was competitive, but that’s what he expected. “Me and David, I’ve known him for years. He knows a lot of the family – hard worker, really good shape. The fight started really fast and ended fortunately in my favor,” he said. Oosahwee said aside from the competition, which he enjoys, the event helped get him into better shape. “I love to compete. The shape, you get in really good shape. MMA/boxing, that kind of conditioning is something that’s far beyond anything else,” Oosahwee said. “I believe I lost about 20 pounds getting ready for this fight.” Comingdeer said he wasn’t sure if he would compete next year or not, but Oosahwee said he is willing.
06/09/2015 01:04 PM
SEATTLE – The Seattle Storm announced on June 6 that guard Angel Goodrich has signed with the franchise. The Cherokee Nation citizen enters her third season after spending the first two with the Tulsa Shock where she played in 31 games with 16 starts in her rookie season. The 5-4 guard was a finalist for the Naismith Award and Wooden Award and earned First Team All-Big 12 honors in her senior season at Kansas. Her third round selection in 2013 made her the highest drafted Native American in WNBA history. Goodrich was expected to join Seattle on June 8 in Tulsa. According to, Goodrich was waived by Tulsa on May 30 and claimed by the Los Angeles Sparks on June 1. The Sparks waived Goodrich three days later.