GRIC Urban Members celebrate anniversary
August 5, 2016
Thomas R. Throssell
Gila River Indian News
Generations of urban Gila River Indian Community members, from elders to the very young, packed the rooms and hallways of the GRIC Urban Members Association’s (GRIC-UMA) new office building located in Phoenix, July 30, in celebration of the group’s 17th Anniversary.
Over 100 urban members were treated to breakfast, a cultural presentation by Ginger Martin, and speeches by urban members Bernice Nelson and Reuben Jenkins. Shortly after, the Hashan Kehk dance group preformed in the main conference room as dozens of Community members took photographs and video.
As the young dancers finished their routine, former Arizona Cardinals wide-receiver Frank Sanders took to the front of the conference room and talked about his upbringing, from his family working in the fields shucking corn to playing for the Cardinals in the National Football League.
Sanders said that his mother had worked hard to give him opportunities and a better future, and receiving an education was the key to his success. To get that red bird on his shoulder, Sanders said, it all started in elementary school, then to junior high school, high school, and finally college. Without successfully meeting the challenges of academia, he would have never made it to the NFL.
Sanders asked Community members in the room, children and parents, to focus on their education and to follow their dreams.
After Sanders’s rousing speech, Cardinals mascot, Big Red, ran out into the room and began handing out backpacks full of school supplies to Community children. The backpacks were provided by the non-profit organization Three Precious Miracles, which aims to provide resources to foster youth and families.
Anthony Newkirk, UMA Chairman, said the association, which was initiated in 1997, was formed to address the needs and concerns of Community members living off the reservation.
“Although we are urbans,” said Newkirk. “We are still part of the tribe and although we are living in an urban setting, we are trying to...keep our culture.”
“We want to be running towards the tribe, we don’t want to be running away from it,” he said. “We want the tribe to recognize that we are part of the Community. We have a lot to offer. We are here, we are everywhere and...the Community should be proud of that.”
A few of the services that GRIC-UMA provides its members are bus passes for transportation, gym memberships, delivery of the GRIN, assistance with resume writing, minor home repairs, utility assistance, elder outings, transportation to GRIC events, and much more.