Komatke Village, AZ – U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris became the first sitting Vice President to visit the Gila River Indian Community when she spoke to a crowd of about 800 elected leaders, officials from Arizona tribes but took the time to meet with the UNITY affiliated-Four Sister Tribes’ youth councils from the Ak-Chin Youth Council, Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council, Tohono O’odham Nation Youth Council and Young River People’s Council during a youth roundtable discussion on July 6th. The Sister Tribes share a common ancestry and come from the ancient Huhugam, the ancestors of the O’odham tribes.
The roundtable discussion gave youth leaders the opportunity to share their perspectives on topics such as mental health, the importance of voting and the missing and murdered indigenous people (MMIP) to the Vice President. Harris listened intently and asked how the Biden Administration can offer support. “Federal funding to support mental health issues like generational trauma to name a few,” said Ariana Blackwater, President of the Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council. The visit was so empowering, said Blackwater.
Sommer Lopez, Advisor to the Young River Peoples Council (YRPC) said the visit was unreal and very grateful to the Gila River Indian Community for inviting the Four Sister Tribes’ youth leaders to witness the historic visit. YRPC Vice President Roman Judge gifted the Vice President with traditional pottery.
Just a day after the UNITY Conference, former Junior Miss Gila River and Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council President, Sineca Jackson had the honor to welcome the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris to the Gila River Indian Community. “Coming home after being elected as the UNITY Pacific Area Representative to have Vice President Harris here in my Community, I thought it was so awesome,” said Jackson. It was a privilege to be able to speak before her and the Arizona tribal leaders. She was genuine and was proud to have youth leaders on stage with her. She showed support to the Indian Country, said Jackson.
The Four Sister Tribes’ youth leaders were given prominent seating on stage while the Vice President offered remarks to Arizona tribal leaders on the impact of Infrastructure Investment on Tribal Nations.
Moments like this demonstrate the need and support to keep Native youth leaders at the table locally and nationally are good practices of effective youth governance.
Photo credit: Gila River Indian News and Sineca Jackson