Conference features some of Indian Country’s best and brightest
Los Angeles, Calif. - Comedian Charlie Hill, NCAA basketball star Shoni Schimmel, and former NFL player Jim Warne were just some of the Native household names who lead off the 2012 For All My Relations conference. This year’s family-focused event was themed ‘Living Proof.’
“We’re living proof that we’re going to persist and we’re not going away,” said Bill Johnson, Board of Directors’ chair for the hosting entity - National Indian Justice Center.
The three-day conference, which ended Saturday, August 4, brought in close to 400 attendees to the Hilton Universal City. It was sponsored by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, and the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria. Workshops focused on issues including health, tribal law, and cultural resource preservation. The California Indian Museum and Cultural Center and the National Indian Justice Center conducted on-camera interviews with conference attendees about their own tribal histories with the California Mission system as well as their educational experiences.
Midway through the conference, three individuals were recognized for their commitment to the Native American community. Melodie George-Moore, who is a cultural leader as well as an English and Native American literature teacher at Hoopa Valley High School, was selected for the Cultural Guardian Award. Larry Myers, manager for the California Native American Heritage Commission, received the Leadership in Action Award. The Emerging Leader Award was given to Vincent Medina Jr., an Ohlone who serves as assistant curator and tour guide at Mission Dolores in San Francisco.
The conference also offered a separate track for youth which kicked off with a college event. Each following day, young conference attendees had the opportunity to take morning hip hop classes or go on a run/walk. Workshops gave participants the chance to explore what it takes to prepare for higher education, learn about California law, and practice cultural art.
Jacque Tahuka-Nuñez, of the Acjachemen people, has spent close to 40 years working with children as an educator and storyteller. She taught a basket weaving workshop. Nuñez said one thing she always finds herself reinforcing in young people is how special and unique each of them are.
“I am always teaching young people to find out what their passion is. Because if you do, you’ll never work a day in your life,” Nuñez said.
For more information about the National Indian Justice Center, visit http://www.nijc.org/