This year the Community celebrated 135 years of being a sovereign nation on the evening of June 14, at the Two Waters Complex. Many Community members, guests from sister tribes and visitors celebrated the annual “Community Day” celebration which featured a Reflections of Honor Wall unveiling, traditional dance group performances and dinner which was catered by the Round House Cafe.
The event began that morning with the Huhugam Ki Museum making their famous mesquite pancake breakfast and hosted their annual tamale contest. First place went to Morris Manuel, second place to Shannon Reina and third place Rito Lopez.
A public viewing on the newest addition to the Two Waters Complex was unveiled on the evening of Community Day. An Honor Wall Mural was added to the southwest wall of the Council Chambers with names of individuals who gave selfless service to the Community throughout the years. Honorees and family members to the honorees who passed were recognized that evening.
A short presentation took place to recognize the recipient of the Caring 4 Salt River award under the Friend of the Community category. That award was presented to Kevin Riding-In, recreation coordinator from Salt River’s Social Programs Division. Riding-In first started working for the Community in 2004 and will celebrate his 10 year anniversary later this year. Nominated by Karen Schurz for his work to implement a recreation program that catered to functional and special needs children, Riding-In was honored to be selected for this years award.
“I’m thankful to work for such a wonderful place and with such great kids, I really love what I do and want to thank Karen Schurz for the nomination,” Riding-In said.
Each year up to four individuals can be selected for the award from the following categories: Youth member, Community member, Elder member of the Community and Friend of the Community. Nominations are received through the office of Community Relations where they are submitted to a panelist of judges to be voted on.
This year activities included a street fair that included promotional give-aways, Community information booths, food trucks and vendors. Various artists from the Community demonstrated their cultural talents.
Traditional singers and dancers and social dancing contests ended the evening celebration.
On June 9, 2004 the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Council proclaimed June 14, as the official holiday for “Community Day.” The SRPMIC was first established as a tribal government and signed by United States President Rutherford B. Hayes June 14, 1879.
The original executive order, which passed January 10, 1879, by President Rutherford B. Hayes which planned for the border of the reservation to include much of what is now the Phoenix metropolitan area which was close to 680,000 acres. Yet, after outcry by non-Native American settlers who wished to claim this land, the order was revised on June 14, and the borders were minimized to the 52,600 acres that still exists today. A natural preserve sits on 19,000 acres of this land and on 12,000 acres crops like, cotton, corn, and melons are grown. Much of the remaining land is residential property and reserved for the Community to run its government, educational facilities, and several successful enterprises.
Since its official recognition the Community has become an established presence within the Valley, and observes its existence with an annual celebration that commemorates its rich history while enjoying fun filled, family-friendly activities.