People > 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.

[PHOTO - Emily Chiago King]
Emily Chiago King, Two Waters Spokesperson