Chairperson Swears-in New Youth Leaders

Chairperson Danielle Vigil-Masten, center left, welcome Junior UNITY Council members Sonny Dean, Kidyanaté Joseph, John Smith, Biancé Bussell, Nelli Bailey, Alexia Jackson, and Faith Tracey. / Photo by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

The seven newly-elected members of the Junior United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) Council were sworn-in by Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairperson Danielle Vigil-Masten on Wednesday, March 5, as they took their seats in the Council chambers.

“Whenever we have any of our departments – across 56 entities – that has anything to do with youth, it’ll be brought to you,” Vigil-Masten said.

The Junior UNITY Council will serve as an advisory board on youth issues, and will help set up elections for a Senior UNITY Council later this year.

The members are Sonny Dean, Kisdyanaté Joseph, John Smith, Biancé Bussell, Nelli Baily, Alexia Jackson, and Faith Tracey. All are students at Hoopa Valley Elementary School.

Thomas Joseph, the Youth Center coordinator, said the seven students could be paired with adult Tribal Council members as their advisors. “You’ll make recommendations to the Tribal Council on which way you’d like us to go.”

Joseph said the youths will also help direct Youth Center activities, like organizing concerts, field trips, and teen dances.

The Youth Center and Recreation Center are currently being renovated, with thousands of dollars going into upgrades and repairs, including almost $100,000 for a new gymnasium floor.

Sunshine Jackson, with the Recreation Department, said, “All together, the Council has put in over $140,000 into making sure the youth in our community have a safe and healthy environment.”

Norma McAdams put the Junior UNITY Council members right to work making preparations for a second visit to Hoopa by motivational speaker Chance Rush.

Joe Davis, the new Recreation director, said, “Set a good example and maybe one day you’ll be setting at this table as Tribal Council members.”

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