The 15th Annual Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day, hosted by the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs on January 19 at the Arizona State Capitol, focused on tribes prospering through renewable energy and technology.
To open the Joint Session, members of Ira Hayes Post #84 of the American Legion posted the colors, and Dearhouse performed “Flag Song.” Miss Wheelchair Arizona Erica Sanders led the pledge of allegiance, and Native American flutist and 2003 Grammy Nominee Vince Redhouse (Navajo) shared his talent by performing the national anthem.
Featured speaker Timothy Williams, chairman of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, emphasized the importance of Arizona’s 20 tribal governments and their need to provide employment in a healthy and safe environment. He also talked about the current tribes that are looking into solar panels and how that would benefit the tribes.
Williams strongly addressed the state legislators present, saying, “We (tribal leaders) are striving for better-quality services for our communities, and we are here to let you know what’s happening. Our voice as leaders represents an entire people (Native American communities).” Williams discussed how prisoners in Arizona are getting better healthcare than what is provided by the Indian Health Service and how the unemployment rate in Native American communities is a scorching 50 percent.
Fran Chavez, public relations director for the Yavapai-Apache Nation, accompanied Chairman Thomas Beauty and Vice-Chairman Norman Smith to the meeting. She said they would go back and share what they learned with their community members.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community Vice-President Martin Harvier said he was grateful that the Arizona Legislature had the opportunity to listen to the voices of the state’s Native people when it comes to education, health and other projects for which the tribes compete for state funding. Harvier said, “It also was an opportunity to visit with other tribal leaders from across the state and touch base with their issues, and vice versa. I also thought it was good for our youth to see that the state body has a Native American member.” He was referring to Arizona State Representative Christopher Deschene from the Navajo Nation, who will be running for secretary of state in Arizona.
Junior Miss Salt River Alia Shaw and other members of the Young River People’s Council came out to see what Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day entailed. Shaw said, “It was good to see how many tribal representatives came out to represent their communities.”
After lunch, a series of tribal energy workshops discussed different kinds of renewable energy available to tribes, retrofit technology, the Big Boquillas wind energy project on the Navajo Nation, and transmission lines on tribal lands.
For more details on the event, visit http://azcia.gov/INTLD.asp.