For 10 years now, celebrating and learning more about how to protect our Earth has been a tradition within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. On Saturday, April 5, many individuals from the Community, as well as tribal employees and their families, came out to support this great cause by joining hands to celebrate Earth Day.
The official Earth Day 2014 is on April 22, but the Community celebrated early. The event was a partnership between the SRPMIC Community Development and Public Works departments.
“The main focus is cleaning up the Community. There’s a couple of service projects going on, and a service project can be something like picking up trash on the side of the road, planting trees, or repainting and cleaning up standpipes.
This is a constant process; it never ends,” said Christopher Horan, manager with the SRPMIC Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Department.
The celebration featured 35 booths and exhibits ranging from a Butterfly Wonderland exhibit to booths from different SRPMIC departments and Community-member booths aimed at providing cultural education. Attractions included a petting zoo for the children and a display and demonstration featuring wildlife such as hawks and reptiles. “Green”-oriented businesses from across the Valley were also present. Everyone who stopped at the tables left with important education and information about how to help conserve the Earth’s natural resources.
“This is the 10-year anniversary [of SRPMIC Earth Day], so this year it has an active environmental fair focus to it, so that individuals can take something home and [put it into action]. [For example,] we have 750 mesquite samplings that people can take home … and plant. Those are the type of things that don’t show up for another two to three years [at this event],” said Horan.
The event kicked off with remarks by SRPMIC President Diane Enos, Council Representative Lorna Ray, Community Manager Bryan Meyers, Horan and others who coordinated the event. They offered words of encouragement to all in attendance and gave thanks to everyone involved in putting on SRPMIC Earth Day.
“It’s really important to take care of our land here; this is our territory, this is our nation and this was given to us to take care of. What we do today demonstrates that and by actually going out there and physically cleaning up shows that we care about our land and our people,” said Enos.
Over 1,000 people volunteered to help with the cleanup. Elders, children and even infants joined in on the fun, trailing along roads picking up trash or painting positive messages on standpipes. After an area had been cleaned up, full white trash bags lined the sides of the roads, evidence of a cleaner Community.
As volunteers trailed in around lunchtime, Community member Barbara Johnson said a prayer for all in attendance. For donating their time, volunteers enjoyed a free lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs and more. Families mingled and children played as they enjoyed music by DJ K Supreme (Community member Kasey Kauakahi).
“This year, celebration is our topic. We’re celebrating all that we’ve accomplished, how much we have done. Usually we run about 76 tons [of garbage] each time we do this. It sounds like a lot, but we’ve still got plenty of stuff to do. Part of this event is cleaning up, but the other part of it is we want people to help themselves. So, we put nine trash bins throughout the Community so Community members can fill those up themselves,” said Horan.
For more information about SRPMIC Earth Day, call the Community Development Department at (480) 362-7600 or Public Works at (480) 362-5600.