The 2012 Inauguration Ceremony for the Young River People’s Council (YRPC) was held on Saturday, June 16 at the Two Waters Complex. Ryan Andrews, chief judge of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, swore in the new YRPC officers.
SRPMIC Council Member Tom Largo gave the invocation and addressed the parents of the students. “[You] must be proud of your children for taking on the role of leadership. One day they will be in a position to take over our [Community] leadership, and I urge you to always encourage them as parents,” Largo said.
The new officers sworn in were Antonio Briones, president; Martha Ludlow-Martinez, vice-president; Jose Martinez, corresponding secretary; and Kaily Toney, clerical secretary.
Jessica Ruiz, the outgoing president of the YRPC, welcomed the guests and spoke about the accomplishments that the group achieved during her time as president.
“Over the last year, the Youth Council has worked hard at environmental projects, such as painting over the graffiti to help clean up our Community, and we also participated at a UNITY [United National Indian Tribal Youth] conference. We are very grateful for all the opportunities that the Youth Council received to represent our Community, and we are proud that our sister tribes are now looking up to us,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz was nominated as the Western Area Representative for UNITY, where she oversaw activities in the states of Arizona, Utah and Nevada.
Keynote speaker Anita Rivers offered her advice to the parents of the new YRPC members. “As parents, the support that these children receive at home helped them get to where they are today. Everybody has something in their lives that isn’t quite right, but we all can be someone for our families. Continue to offer your love and support and remind them of the things they need to hear. I can’t wait to see where these youth members [will be] in a few years.”
Briones, 19, said he hopes to use this experience in a positive light. His educational goal is to attend culinary school to become a chef. “I want to use all the knowledge and experience I’ve gained with Youth Council to get into school and get a job.
“Youth Council teaches you how to be a person, how to represent yourself and how to speak to people. The biggest change I see in myself today is that I can speak to larger crowds. Before Youth Council, I never put myself out there,” Briones added.
New Vice-President Martha Ludlow-Martinez was introduced to the YRPC through Anita Rivers as well as her work on the Miss Salt River Pageant Committee. “Anita always mentioned Youth Council to me, and I had already worked closely with them on the pageant committee, so I decided to attend a meeting. At my first meeting, Anita took me aside and made me feel really welcomed. That made me want to my best for Youth Council.”
Ludlow-Martinez wants to use this experience to help improve her speaking skills, as well as to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be in the political world. “I just want to make a better impression when I’m outside of the Community, so people can have a new view on the Community members,” she said.
For Ludlow-Martinez, being vice-president of the Youth Council means acting as the Council’s support and making sure things are going the way they should be. She noted, “I am here to help support our president and understand where the council is at this year.”
Corresponding Secretary Jose Martinez said he joined the YRPC because he was living in the group home and needed a way to get out of the house on a daily basis. “Youth Council helped me to get out every day and be a part of something good. My interests in politics and business formed from signing up, and I have been with the council for about five to six years now,” Martinez said.
Martinez will be attending Arizona State University in the fall, studying business administration, and he hopes to utilize all his skills and connections to run for Tribal Council. His advice to any youth interested in joining the Youth Council is, “The best way to stay out of trouble is by staying busy. With Youth Council you are busy, and it isn’t what it seems, but much better.”
Clerical Secretary Kaily Toney said she joined the council when she was 12 because her mom told her about it.
“I used to see [YRPC members] at events in the Community, and I thought what they did was interesting because all the people around them were proud of the things they had done. I wanted to be like them and have people look up to me one day,” Toney said.
For more information on the Young River People’s Council, visit Angela Willeford at the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs or call (480) 362-6654.