Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Healing and Memorial Tribute Remembering all Those Lost During the Pandemic

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Families hold up candles as they take a moment of silence for all those we lost during the pandemic.

Since the spring of 2020, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has lost more than 300 Community members, some from COVID-19 and some from other causes. On Saturday, May 7, SRPMIC held a Healing and Memorial Tribute event at the Salt River Ballfield to remember those whose lives were lost during this time. It was fitting that this tribute was one of the first in-person Community events since the pandemic. 

Family members rang a bell in honor of their loved ones as Council Representatives Cheryl Doka and Michael Dallas read the family approved names of Community members.

“In March 2020, the world we once knew stopped, and the Community, alongside the rest of the world, began to endure new day-to-day life experiences due to COVID-19. This virus changed how we lived, how we worked, how we learned and how we interacted,” explained master of ceremonies Pacer Reina before inviting SRPMIC member Marty Thomas to the stage to provide the opening prayer. 

Council Representatives Cheryl Doka and Michael Dallas read the family approved names of Community members who passed away during the pandemic. As the names were read, photos submitted by the families were displayed on two screens and family members rang a bell in honor of their loved ones. 

“This evening, we come together to start the healing process. This evening we will be remembering fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, husbands, wives, grandmas and grandpas that we lost during these last two years during this COVID pandemic,” said SRPMIC President Martin Harvier. “As a Community, we would always come together when somebody lost somebody. We would come together to help as a part of the grieving process. During the pandemic, we were not allowed to gather, and some were even unable to be with their loved ones at the hospital. Funerals and wakes were not allowed at government buildings or even inside homes, and gravesite services had limited attendance. Some families were left to deal with grief alone. So, this evening as we come together for this special event, we come together to remember, to reflect, to cry, to laugh and to give thanks to those who shared themselves with us but are no longer with us. It is our faith knowledge that the short wait will be over and we will see them again.” 

Bird Singing and Dancing by the River performed bird singing and dancing.

Everyone in attendance participated in a candle-lighting ceremony to remember lost loved ones and their laughter, their compassion, their friendship and so much more. 

Grammy-nominated flautist Robert Tree Cody performs a couple flute songs in remembrance of those who passed.

Community members Antonia Reina, Russell Ray and Robin Ramirez shared their personal stories of living through the pandemic. Reina and Ray talked about their experience battling COVID-19 and how they continue to have lingering symptoms. Ramirez talked about being a teenager during the pandemic, and how the sudden halt in socializing with family and friends made life difficult. Like many other students, she also struggled with online school. But that was only the beginning for Ramirez, as she would eventually lose her sister, two aunts and an uncle to COVID. While still being safe, she said, her grandma tried to make life normal for Ramirez and her younger family members by taking them to drive-in movies. 

A number of musical groups performed in honor of those lost, including the Salt River Presbyterian Church Choir; drum group Comanche Red, which performed a memorial song and an honor song; Grammy-nominated flautist Robert Tree Cody; and Bird Singing and Dancing by the River, which performed traditional bird songs. Paster Len Andrews concluded the memorial with a message of healing.

Leroy G. Andrews

Randal D. Arthur Sr.

Lois D. Ferguson Smith

Phillip Antone

Melanie Reina-Lopez

Michael Norris, Jr. 

Michael Norris, Sr. 

Mariah Makil

Eugenia R. Osif

Clayburn D. Osife

Leon C. Judge

Ciara Armenta

Robert “Bob” Scabby 

Francisco M. Perez Sr.

Leota Standing Elk

Isaac G. Burnette

Elaine S. Williams

Cara L. Cough

Ruth A. Perkins

Aaron A. Garcia

Lily M. Landis

Ralston Cashoya

Bonnie De Lowe

Erik N. Thomas

Lansford E. “Lenny” Azule 

Kennedy J. Enos

Leota G. “Bella” Azule-Manuel 

Rowena J. Andreas-Duran 

Brandan Paukgana 

Bernardo C. Rosero

Brian F. Antone

Richard “Rick” Judge

Elvia R. A. Ramirez

Angela Honeycutt

Allen Samuel Lawrence Juste 

Joe De La Rosa 

Bernadine “Berni” Mahle 

Dale K. Waters

Geraldine Carlos

Mary M. Andrews

Russell “Bosco” Fulwilder 

Phyllis Johnson Banashley 

Malcolm Wood 

Daniel Wood

Pernell D. Mahle

Eva Ludlow

Royal “Arnie” Schurz 

Melvin Thomas 

Charles J. Coops 

Talon Manuel 

Loretta Robles 

Ambrose E. Moore 

Dean E. Emerson 

James P. Moore Jr. 

Elisha Anton 

Judum Burke

Elizabeth “Shisco” Sebahe Makil 

Aaron D. Easchief

James S. Boni

Marisella Ortiz

Anthony P. Lewis 

Davis Jackson Sr.

Joyce A. Manuel

Michael L. Carlos

Shirley L. Howard-Washington 

Melanie Smith 

Rudy G. Butler

Dexter D. Loring Sr.

Edgar N. L. Carlyle Jr. 

Thomas D. Manuel

Royce Manuel

Lapu Lapu R. Largo

Trista M. Lewis

Her-val-vo-poy Shurrie French 

Marie A. Carlos

Loranda J. Carlos

Davis Enas

Sierra M. R. Powers

John Michael Landis

Ronald White

Betty Largo Flores

Sylvia Goodwin

Leland M. Johnson

Norene I. Burke

Geneva Ann Richards

Merle Andrews

Nehemiah L. Hill Sr.

Melva Charles

Christina G. Lerma

Briana Charlie

Billman H. “Hog” Hayes III 

James B. Thomas

Arlen K. Biakeddy 

Earl D. Jackson 

Marcellus M. Chiago 

Kazehn N. Zotigh-Lewis 

Tyson D. M. Johnson Sr. 

Christina M. Peters 

Selene E. Wopsock 

Sivilano L. Antone

Mateo L. Vavages-Lewis 

Verna C. Espinoza 

Lucinda L. “Cindy” Enas 

Rickey L. Nelson

Joel D. Rhoades 

Barbara A. Carrillo

Roger R. Smith Jr. 

Kristen R. Salcido 

Gabriel F. Ortiz

James Harrison Jr. 

Roxie Anna Lewis 

Nicollet Flores

Isaac G. Burnette

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