Cherokee students elected to prestigious national council

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. - Two Cherokee students, Isidoro Sierra Jr. and Raven Bruner, have been elected to a one-year term to help lead the United National Indian Tribal Youth Council (UNITY) Executive Board.

Sierra, of Hulbert, Okla., currently serves as president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council. He is a 2003 graduate of Hulbert High School and plans to attend Northeastern State University (NSU) in the fall where he will major in both criminal justice and Native American studies.

Bruner, of Stilwell, Okla., currently serves as secretary of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council. She is a 2003 graduate of Stilwell High School and will also attend NSU in the fall where she will major in pre-pharmacy.

Reba Bruner, Raven's mother, talked to Indian Country Today about the goals of UNITY and the two youths' position in the organization. "Our local Cherokee youth council has been a member of UNITY since 1992," Bruner said. "We have had several members on the National board since its inception and it's always a great honor to have Cherokee members on the board because it does involve youths from all over the country. They work as a social group on different issues that other youth councils send in from their areas and try to address them to the best of their abilities. Some of the issues are cultural preservation, higher education, and drug and alcohol issues.

"They will also help to plan next year's conference. One of their main goals for Raven and Isidoro is to redo the constitution of UNITY. They feel it needs some changes."

While members have to attend the UNITY National Conference for at least a year, Raven Bruner attended for five years before she applied. "They had to file for the position and go through a review of their accomplishments from their local youth council, their involvement with community services, and other activities," Reba Bruner said. "They had to attend the UNITY conference for one year before they could be considered for office."

Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council members are elected for a two-year term. Representatives are chosen from each district in the Cherokee Nation's 14-county jurisdictional area. Elections for districts 5 - 9 will be held in October.

To be eligible to run for an office, the youth must reside in the district they are running in, be a tribal citizen of the Cherokee Nation, a currently enrolled student, and be committed to attending monthly meetings. For more information on the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council, contact Reba Bruner at (918) 456-0671, ext. 2397. UNITY is based out of Oklahoma City.