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UNITY names ’25 under 25′

UNITY’s ’25 Under ’25’ winners. (UNITY photo)
Timothy Benally, Dine (UNITY/Facebook)

MESA, Ariz. –Some of Indian Country’s top young talent has been recognized thanks to the United National Indian Tribal Youth Inc.

UNITY announced on social media during the week of April 27 the fourth class of its “25 under 25 Native Youth Leaders” national recognition program that honors Native American and Alaskan Native youth. The program, launched in 2014, celebrates the achievements of 25 outstanding Native youth leaders under the age 25, every other year.  

Miss Indian World and UNITY Peer Guide Cheyenne Kippenberger, of the Seminole Tribe, participated in the announcement of the winners.

Shayla French, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippawa Indians (UNITY/Facebook)
Kennise McGertt, Salt River Pima – Maricopa Indian Community (UNITY/Facebook)

UNITY is a national network organization that promotes personal development, citizenship and leadership among Native Youth.

UNITY praised the youth leaders, noting they represent the organization’s core mission and exude living a balanced life developing their spiritual, mental, physical and social well-being.

“Our Native youth are doing wonderful work in Indian Country,” Mary Kim Titla, executive director for UNITY, said in a statement.  “UNITY’s 25 Under 25 program is just one way of recognizing these young leaders and acknowledging the passion they have to better their communities. There was an amazing response from outstanding youth applicants across the nation. A big congrats to the honorees and we wish nothing but the best to all nominees.”

Claudia McHenry, Mvskoke (UNITY/Facebook)
Marco Avando, Shoshone Paiute (UNITY/Facebook)

Normally, the honorees are recognized at UNITY’s national conference, but due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, the in-person conference was cancelled. A virtual conference is being planned. During the next nine months, the 25 honorees will have an opportunity to receive training and networking in support of their work and endeavors.

The 2020 class of 25 under 25 Native Youth Leaders are:

·      Adrien Pochel, 18, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nations Cree, Ill.
·      Alayna Harkreader, 19, Cherokee Nation, Okla.
·      Alysia Coriz, 23, Kewa Pueblo, N.M.
·      Angela Noah, 23, White Mountain Apache, Ore.
·      Anthony, 20, Wuskwi Sipihk First Nations Cree & Sicangu Lakota, Ill.
·      Autumn Adams, 23, Yakama Nation, Wash.
·      Bianca Hernandez, 21, Gila River Indian Community, Ariz.
·      Brook Thompson, 24, Yurok & Karuk, Ore.
·      Caleb Dash, 17, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, Ariz.
·      Claudia McHenry, MvSkoke, Okla.
·      Dylan Baca, 17, White Mountain Apache, Ariz.
·      Frankie Pedersen, 23, Listuguj Mi.gmaq First Nations, Ill.
·      Kaitlyn Pinkerton, 16, Cherokee, Okla.
·      Kennise McGertt, 16, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, Ariz.
·      Kylie Hunts-In-Winter, 17, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Ariz.
·      Logan Monroe, 17, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minn.
·      Marco Ovando, 20, Shoshone Paiute, Idaho
·      Nadira Mitchell, 19, Diné, Ariz.
·      Niagra Rockbridge, 21, Diné, Ariz.
·      Owen Oliver, 21, Quinault Indian Nation, WA
·      Sareya Taylor, 18, White Mountain Apache, Ariz.
·      Shayla French, 19, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Mich.
·      Timothy Benally, 21, Diné, Ariz.
·      Wyomee Cooke, 17, Diné, Ariz.
·      Yasmine Quiroz, 23, Gila River Indian Community, Ariz.

Applicants were judged by an independent committee based on the strength of the application, nomination form, resume, supplemental information and potential to impact Native America.