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NCAI Opening Reception at Salt River Fields

Young members of the Community greet NCAI members with a welcome and present them with a shell necklace as they walk into Salt River Fields.

On October 9, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community hosted a welcome reception for people attending the National Congress of American Indians conference at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

It was an evening of O’odham and Piipaash hospitality.

The NCAI conference was held at the Phoenix Convention Center downtown, October 9-14. SRPMIC was a Gold Sponsor of the event.

Conference attendees were bused out to Salt River Fields for the opening reception, where they were greeted by Community members, members of SRPMIC tribal royalty and the Youth Council, and traditional singers. The guests all received shell necklaces.

Attendees enjoyed tours of the facility, as well as activities that included traditional games and artist demonstrations, cultural dance performances, a Native artist “chalk walk,” music of the Southwest, a complimentary photo station and culinary delights inspired by the Southwest. Former Arizona Diamondbacks player Luis “Gonzo” Gonzalez and Zach Wilkins of the Colorado Rockies made guest appearances. The D-Backs and Rockies call Salt River Fields home each March for spring training.

Prior to the NCAI welcome reception, guest speakers and Salt River Field staff took a group picture (l-r): Zack Wilkins - Colorado Rockies Representative, Miss Salt River Annalisa Estrada, SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier, Dave Dunn of Salt River Fields and Luis “Gonzo”Gonzales former Arizona Diamondback outfielder.
SRPMIC Council Member Ricardo Leonard sang a blessing song, and Vice-President Martin Harvier and President Delbert Ray, Sr. addressed the crowd.

“We are going to have a great week to learn about many issues and must tackle them as they hit Indian Country, from environmental issues that are occurring on the Standing Rock Reservation to the challenges in the Indian Child Welfare Act and many others,” said President Ray. “There is a great milestone around the corner where your voice can be heard, and that is the [U.S.] presidential election. I encourage everyone to register to vote, study the issues and cast your vote.

“My hat is off to NCAI for bringing tribal nations together to help strengthen our nations,” Ray said.

Harvier discussed the history of Salt River Fields and how the facility has been successful for the past six years. Gonzalez welcomed the guests and gave an introduction, saying how he believes the facility is the No. 1 spring training facility in the country.

“It’s a humbling experience to be surrounded by so many tribal leaders,” said Wilkins.