January 18 marked the day for the 16th Annual Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day at the Arizona State Capitol. Invitations for this event are extended to the Arizona governor, each member of the Arizona State Legislature, and other elected officials to pay tribute to the history and culture of the American Indian peoples and their contributions to the prosperity and cultural diversity in the United States.
The day began with a press conference on the Senate Lawn by Senator Jack Jackson, Jr. This was followed up with a Joint Protocol Session hosted by the Arizona Senate with floor privileges extended to tribal leaders to join their representatives during the session. Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Diane Enos was on the floor during the session. The session began with the posting of colors by American Legion Hopi Post 80. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by Miss Indian Arizona, Sweetie Cody. Ronnie Lupe, chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, gave the invocation. Opening remarks were given by Speaker of the House Kirk Adams and Senate President Russell Pearce.
The featured speakers included Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa of the Hopi Tribe, who spoke of his tribe’s views. The chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Terry Rambler, was also a featured speaker. He expressed the need to collaborate with the state legislature in order to ensure the prosperity of the Indian tribes. The final feature speaker was David Kwail, chairman of the Yavapai-Apache Nation.
Lunch was served and a budget briefing took place in the Arizona Capitol Museum.
Following the Joint Protocol Session, President Enos said it was a great opportunity to attend the event.
“It’s always good to see other tribal leaders and have them share their views on our common issues, and it’s good to keep our unity strong among the tribal leadership and to touch base with state legislatures,” she said. “Today you have seen some of them come up and talk to us, and these are the folks you go back and talk to and ask for their support on issues that are going to affect the tribal nations including Salt River, so it is critical that we have a good relationship with them.
“Today we didn’t do any work. It was listening to people’s opinions, hearing their viewpoints and socializing at lunch time,” Enos continued. “Then they will have more little meetings and go back and discuss. But to me, this is the main reason to do this every year. This year with the Republican-controlled legislature, you really have to nurture those relationships with the state because they come in handy.”