On May 30, the Senior Services department of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community hosted a luncheon honoring the elders of the Community who are age 70 and older. The luncheon was held at the Community Building, with numerous tables set up and stage performances by the Senior Ladies dance group and O’odham Himdak Cudkam.
Elder Ruth Perkins, the speaker for the morning, shared her memories in a talk she called “a trip down memory lane.”
To recognize the elders, Community senior Janet Andrews called out all the names of enrolled tribal members age 70 and up. Two elders were especially honored: Bernice Phillips, 93, and Harrison Rhoades, 91. They were both second to the next to the oldest. Phillips received a basket bowl and Rhoades received a wall-hanging of the Maze. Rhoades was not able to attend the honoring, but his nephew Eric Rhoades accepted the award on his behalf.
Lunch was provided by the Salt River Senior Center, and while the seniors ate, the Tucson Fiddlers and Southern Scratch played traditional music.
Photographer Michael Schaaf set up a backdrop to take portraits of the seniors, who posed either by themselves or in groups.
Andrews commented that hearing the music brought back memories of when she was a young child, going to dances and other functions around the Community and Gila River.
Every year the Senior Center recognizes the Community’s elders; usually it’s for those age 80 and older, but because there was a larger number of elders in their 70s, the department added them to the celebration.
All elders 70 and older received gift bags with Senior Services promotional items including a bank, notebook, pens, towels and a gift card for $40.
There are 133 seniors in the Community who are 70 and older, and 50 of them attended the event.