Members of the Clearwater River Dene Nation Council met with SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier.

A Nation Looking for Direction

By Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

Representatives from the Clearwater River Dene Nation of Canada recently traveled to the United States to visit several Native American communities, including a stop on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community on April 9.

The Clearwater River Nation is a small band of the Canadian First Nation called the Dene located in northwestern Saskatchewan, Canada. The Dene say they are closely related to the Diné (Navajo) of northern Arizona, who share a similar language. The Canadian visitors came to the Community to learn about SRPMIC economic-development efforts and about the progress made by the Community throughout the years.

The guests included Clearwater River Dene Nation (CRDN) Chief Roy Cheecham and four tribal council members, the band’s manager, and one member of the tribe’s legal counsel staff. SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier welcomed the guests to the Two Waters complex and gave a brief presentation on the Community’s two tribes and history.

“In Indian Country we are all headed in the same direction,” said Cheecham, referring to economic growth. “We (the CRDN) have lots of natural resources, such as trees, lakes and, most importantly, our geographic location.” He acknowledged that the SRPMIC also is in a very strategic location, surrounded by major cities.

The CRDN is looking to find ways to increase revenues for their community to help with education, treatment centers and economic development. “Our community growth is much slower than we would like it to be,” said Cheecham.

The guests were shown a video presentation about the Community and its enterprises. Community Development Department Economic Development Manager Quannah Dallas gave a brief presentation that covered the establishment and development of the Pima Corridor, the Community’s land base, agriculture land, and land usage.

“When developers come to the Community with proposals, we look at the ones who want to be with the Community for a long time,” said Dallas, referring to businesses that want to stay with the Community for five to 10 years.

The visitors asked questions about SRPMIC’s gaming per-capita distribution and the positive and negative effects it has on the Community, the new spring training facility, Casino Arizona, how land allotment is handled, the Community Housing Division, and sewer systems.

Once the presentation was complete, the guests toured the Two Waters complex, where they met with SRPMIC President Diane Enos, and then continued with a presentation about Talking Stick Resort and a luncheon at Talking Stick Golf Club.

Cheecham noted that all Indian communities have the same problems, whether they’re in Canada or the United States. At the conclusion of the luncheon, the CRDN Tribal Council members presented their Nation’s flag to Harvier and presented a wooden bear sculpture to Community Relations Director Janet Johnson, who had served as tour leader and answered questions on behalf of the Community.

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