“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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July 5, 2024

20th Community Day Celebration Held at Two Waters Courtyard

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SRPMIC Day, Community Celebration Day, Community Day—whatever you choose to call it, June 14 is the anniversary of the day in 1879 when President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the currently accepted Executive Order establishing the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Though this was after the initial order was signed on January 10 of the same year, the June 14 order has defined the federally recognized boundaries of the Community for the past 145 years.

For this year’s celebration, the Two Waters Courtyard became its own small village with an area for information booths from various government departments, rows of craft vendors, a section for food vendors, and a gathering area on the grass for traditional song and dance groups.

“We are still here,” began Pacer Reina as he opened the event. “We are here today specifically to enjoy each other’s company … to enjoy the sharing of arts and crafts, breaking bread with one another, traditional singing and dancing from the O’odham and Piipaash here in Salt River, and vaila later on tonight.”

Following Reina’s introduction, SRPMIC Vice-President Ricardo Leonard provided a blessing for the meal and shared some insights about the history of the Community.

Ske:g dam ju:k,” he began. “I want to thank you for being here and I want you to remember how we got here, to Salt River. It was a long process. We found things [dating] from 700 B.C. … when they were [grading the first] roads. And it proves that we were here for a long time. Salt River was a gathering place for fish, deer, javelina, all those things. Our people were here, and thank you for being here [today].” He followed with a blessing over the evening and meal to come.

Liam Enos, president of Young River’s People Council, then read the proclamation from Council originally enacted 20 years ago on June 14, 2004. Members of the Salt River Royalty then introduced themselves for the final Community event of their reign, sharing that it was a bittersweet occasion as they worked to maintain their composure. Each thanked the Community for the privilege of representing Salt River over the past year, and they invited everyone to attend the Miss Salt River pageants the following weekend.

After that, a meal of pulled pork sandwiches and mac and cheese was served to almost 800 people. Then everyone was energized and ready to dance. Two groups formed on the grass west of the Council chambers, with a steady flow of people joining in and taking breaks for water and visiting the vendor booths. The evening closed with vaila featuring the band Native Thunder from Gila River.