7th Annual Piipaash Matasheevm Held at Lehi Gathering Area

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Ruthella Washington (seated, fifth from left) was one of the Elder Honorees acknowledged at this year's Piipaash Matasheevm. She is pictured with her family.

The 7th annual Piipaash Matasheevm (People’s Gathering) was held over two days on April 5 and 6 at the Lehi Gathering Area to honor the culture of the Piipaash. The event was put on by the Piipaash Matasheevm Committee (PMC).

On the first day of Piipaash Matasheevm, the grounds of the Lehi Gathering Area were blessed at sunrise by master of ceremonies Garfield Nish. The flags were presented by PMC veterans, accompanied by a song performed by Nish and Jeremiah Shaw. Stew and bread were served to the first 200 people in attendance.

On the second day of the event, participants took a morning walk that was sponsored by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Young River People’s Council (YRPC), heading down East Oak Street and ending at the intersection with North Stapley Drive. YRPC members handed out fruit and water to the walkers as they crossed the finish line.

Beginning at the west end of the grounds, PMC veterans posted the colors to the east while Nish and Shaw performed a song.

The other master of ceremonies, Pacer Reina, kept his signature jokes going throughout the day as he announced an overview of the day’s events.

Deanna Scabby, SRPMIC Council representative from Lehi, gave a welcoming address. (SRPMIC Council representative Michael Dallas Sr. wasn’t available to participate in the welcoming address.)

After that, it was time for the young Community members to come up and dance in the grass for the Tiny Tot Special. There were also O’odham dance demonstrations featuring members of Salt River Royalty and sponsored by the Miss Salt River Committee. Jonathon Curry and Bowie Leonard sang for the Jr. Miss Salt River Court.

In recognition of their contributions to the SRPMIC, and for continuing the Akimel O’odham and Xalychidom Piipaash traditions, the PMC recognized Ruthella Washington and Hollis Chough as their 2024 Elder Honorees.

There was also a special ceremony recognizing veterans for their service to the Community and the country. The PMC recognized and thanked Clarence Chiago (Army), Charles Chough (Army), Alfred Ferguson (Army/KIA) and Josiah Ferguson (Marines).

Following the recognition ceremonies, Bird Singers and Dancers performed every 20 minutes or so while attendees could visit a variety of food tents, information booths and other businesses selling their goods.

In a statement, the PMC thanked everyone who made the event a success. They said, “We truly appreciate you. A special thank-you to the singers/groups and to the beautiful dancers; we appreciate you for traveling from far and near to spend the day with us. Thank you to PMC ‘worker bee’ RainStar Bear for her awesome photos and videos.”

The committee also thanked the following participants and contributors to this year’s event:

  • Guests who traveled from near and far
  • SRPMIC Council
  • Public Works: Crystal, Rocky, Fausto and team
  • Salt River Veterans Office staff: Troy, Amanda and Sierra
  • A/V staff: Robb, Darren and the PA staff
  • Community Relations: Amy and Chris
  • Community Development Department
  • Fleet Department
  • Cultural Resources Department
  • Miss Salt River and Court
  • Young River People’s Council
  • Lehi Boys & Girls Club
  • The Salt River Community Children’s Foundation
  • The Salt River police and fire departments
  • Day workers
  • Salt River Materials Group
  • Salt River Gaming Enterprise
  • Vendors
  • Our spouses, kids and grandkids!
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