During a busy Council work session on November 12 at the Two Waters Building, President Delbert Ray, Sr., Vice-President Martin Harvier and Council members welcomed Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Kilmer serves as the United States Representative of Washington’s sixth Congressional District.
“We need as much help as we can get on the issue of [Keeping the Promise] to the voters of Arizona,” said President Ray during a discussion on the new casino going up in the West Valley.
The Council discussed current issues the Community faces and the good that gaming does for the Community, such as funding the building of the Two Waters Complex and the future judicial center and being able to relocate the Salt River Clinic.
Kilmer thanked the veterans who sat on the Council and thanked the Community for helping veteran services in the state. Kilmer said there are 10 tribes located in his district in Washington State, and he is familiar with a lot of the needs of Native people.
Council Member Deanna Scabby shared with Kilmer how the SRPMIC is an urban community located within the Valley, and how it must work very hard to identify and maintain its traditions. She also mentioned that the SRPMIC is a giving community, talking a little about the 12-percent grant program. Council Member Tom Largo went over the history of tribal gaming, which extends as far back as 1988. He explained that Arizona’s former governors did not want anything similar to a “Las Vegas Strip” in the state.
Kilmer was shown the map in the third-floor conference room showing the Community outlined in relation to the cities and towns of the Valley.
Kilmer was also interested in allotted land in the Community, leasing and rights-of way, as well as the health issues SRPMIC faces.
The reason for his visit, Kilmer said, was that “I have learned that going to visit a community, rather than reading two years of paperwork, is more beneficial for us and the communities, which is why I am here today.”
He was also interested in what Community members think about the many buildings and changes taking place within their Community. Vice-President Harvier took him to the recently closed Salt River Clinic and the new location in the former Career Center. Kilmer was very impressed at how quickly the clinic was relocated due to the unexpected emergency; he also talked with the staff of the clinic and shook hands with patients.
Health and Human Services Director Violet Mitchell-Enos, Public Works Director Kirk Beaty and Assistant Community Manager Lena Jackson-Eckert continued the tour. The next location was the Talking Stick Cultural and Entertainment Destination. Kilmer toured Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, where General Manager Dave Dunne gave him a tour of the facility and answered questions.
After the tour of Salt River Fields, Kilmer went inside Butterfly Wonderland and learned about the OdySea in the Desert aquarium project. His last stop for the afternoon was TopGolf, where he was invited to play a round, wrapping up the day. The tour was coordinated by the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs.