> Emily Chiago King, Two Waters Spokesperson
Seven years ago Emily Chiago King was asked if she would
fill in for two weeks for a temporary position at Tribal Administration.
The “temp” work lasted two years until, five years
ago, she became a permanent Administration employee. A familiar
face and voice to the Community, Emily is looking forward
to the move into the new facilities. “I think that the
new tribal offices, administration and government complex
is a great idea. It will be wonderful to house so many different
departments in one area,” she said, adding that her
only concern is that the disabled and Elders will have to
get used to the much larger offices.
Raised in Lehi, Chiago King was adopted as an infant by a
“wonderful woman” who was a member of the Salt
River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “She was an outstanding
Mom. She was a housekeeper for a family but she died when
I was eleven years old,” said Chiago King. Raised by
family of her adopted mother, Chiago King insists she has
been blessed by being surrounded by so many caring and loving
people. After graduating from Mesa High School, she went to
Los Angeles Valley Junior College. She also attended Brigham
Young University until she got too homesick. She holds a degree
to teach English and grammar and taught in a junior high school
for three years.
Chiago King, who has four adult children and six grandchildren,
is a foster mother who raised a boy and a girl for four years
that she says are still part of their family. “We foster
children who have special needs. We’ve had an abused
baby and a cocaine baby, for example. We’ve always had
a houseful.” Since she does not know her biological
family, by giving back to children, she feels that there is
the possibility that she may be giving back to her own family.
Emily was Miss Salt River in 1975-76. “The program
was so new then. We had to run six miles, from the Community
to Alma School, make tortillas and do other cultural tasks.
There were no funds for Miss Salt River in those days so my
family had to support me when I made appearances. I went to
Gallup and Yuma and other places.”
When she is not at work, caring for her own family, or fostering
children, Chiago King, who is an athlete and avid horsewoman
(they have ten horses) and her husband, Garfield King, run
a cowboy camp for children. “We take seven children,
ages 5 to 17, for three nights and four days to the Verde
River to camp out and learn horsemanship. We teach them how
to rope. We have a bucking barrel for the little children.
We take them fishing and on nature hikes,” she said.
They run the camp, offered at no charge to the children, four
times a year. “We started it with our own grandchildren
but we met this man from Sells who does a camp with the Boys
& Girls Club, so we also work with him. We provide all
the food and the horses; the kids bring their sleeping bags.
In the evening we have one of the traditional people come
out to the camp and tell stories. We have sweats and make
the evenings about our culture.”
For Emily Chiago King, life is about giving back –
to her family, to the Community and to children.