Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day brings legislators and Arizona Indian leaders together
STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Leaders from across the state met today for the 20th Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day, which is dedicated to the 22 Native American nations in Arizona.
Rep. Jennifer Banally, D-Tuba City (District 7), said as a first-time legislator, she was thankful for the chance to meet with and hear from so many people.
“It was a very good day,” Benally said. “I appreciated being able to connect with leaders from the eight tribes in my district and from the other Native American nations. The conversations gave me hope. We were really focused on how to work together to strengthen our voices.”
Arizona statute requires that the Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day be held annually on the second Tuesday after the start of each new legislative session. The purpose of this day is to acknowledge the culture and history of Arizona’s Native American nations and to provide a forum for their leaders to outline legislative and policy priorities.
“It is very important to have this day at the Capitol to recognize all native peoples living in Arizona and their governments. We need to work hand in hand with them to better understand their history and acknowledge all their contributions to this great state and this country,” Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), said.
Rep. Victoria Steele, D-Tucson (District 9), agreed.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for legislators to learn from tribal leaders about the many issues that impact Native Americans and their communities,” she said.
This year’s events focused on the health and wellness of youth, and Kelli Donley from the Department of Health Services moderated a session on this topic. It also included a forum on Native Youth Know, a program established to support creative youth-led projects in the state. Additionally, it provided ongoing opportunities to discuss priorities.
“Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day presents a unique opportunity for Indian Nation leaders to offer the ‘State of Indian Nations and Peoples in the State of Arizona.’ As state leaders we need to listen to understand the needs and hopes of our Native American constituencies. It is also an opportunity for Native American leaders and Native Americans to meet with their legislators to express their views concerning issues and how to address those issues. I encourage all to engage in a continuous dialogue and not limit it to this one day” Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), a founding member of the Native American Caucus, said.
Sen. Carlyle Begay, D-Ganado (District 7), said he looked forward to welcoming everyone at the Capitol.
“The Legislature’s annual Indian Nations and Tribes Legislative Day is an opportunity for legislators and tribal leaders to come together and share their common and individual visions for our state. This important bridge-building tradition fosters communication between our state government and Native peoples,” Begay said.
A complete agenda can be found at, http://azcia.gov/intld.asp.