The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) and the Arizona State University (ASU) Office of the President on American Indian Initiatives have collaborated with several sponsors, including the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, to publish a new report, The State of Indian Country Arizona. A reception took place on August 21 at the Heard Museum in central Phoenix to mark the publication of Volume 1 of the report. Many tribal leaders, dignitaries and state representatives were present at the event, which was held in the museum’s Steele Auditorium. James Pepper Henry, the new director and CEO of the Heard Museum, welcomed everyone and thanked them for attending.
The State of Indian Country Arizona was created to educate the general public and policymakers about the legal, social and economic relationship between the 22 tribal nations and the State of Arizona. The report took two years to compile and publish, and it examines the challenges and opportunities that Arizona’s Indian Country faces.
Topics in the report were chosen based on their importance to tribal nations and cover demographics, cultural rights, education, health and human services, natural resources, sustainability and economic development. Arizona’s tribal story is told by explaining the sovereign status of tribes and showcasing the perspectives and diversity of the tribal nations and American Indian people of the state.
“It’s a good time to have this celebration of the launching of this particular publication,” said John Lewis, executive director of ITCA. “It’s something that comes from the efforts of a number of people and tribes who have ongoing issues.
“We will be able to get a better sense of perspective that is often not understood or even known that there is even another perspective on these issues,” Lewis continued. “This report is very important for the whole state and general public to get a sense of what we are going through, and we look forward to continue to build on it.”
Jacob Moore, tribal relations coordinator for the ASU Office of Public Affairs, spoke about in the care that was taken in writing the report, which he described as “a two-year labor of love.”
“It’s about the thoughtfulness of having to be deliberate in our tribal communities to show that words have power,” said Moore. “So it’s very important on how each word was placed and making sure that each tribe was represented in a way that was respectful.”
“When you open up the report, it covers everything looking back in time [relating to] the struggles that we have gone through, such as the right to vote, the gaming issue and what it’s meant to Indian Country, and those challenges that we do have,” said Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Council Member Tom Largo.
Tokens of appreciation were given to the sponsors and partners of the report: a copy of the emblem featured on the report cover, etched into glass. Sponsors of the report are SRPMIC, Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project. The report was produced by the ITCA, the ASU Office of the President on American Indian Initiatives and the ASU Office of Public Affairs.