Students recognized at 2017 Chief Azul Scholar & Citizenship Award Banquet
May 22, 2017
Thomas R. Throssell
Gila River Indian News
Around 200 family, friends, and Gila River Indian Community dignitaries filled Vee Quiva Hotel and Casino’s Event Center, on the evening of May 5, to recognize the academic achievements of 37 Community students at the 2017 Chief Azul Scholar & Citizenship Award Banquet.
The event, which was hosted by GRIC’s Tribal Education Department, began with a welcoming speech from TED Director Isaac Salcido followed by a blessing performed by Priscilla Antone.
The evening was filled with speeches from tribal dignitaries Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, Lt Gov. Monica Antone, District 1 Council Representative Arzie Hogg, and special guest speaker Ginger Martin, who each applauded the students’ hard work and congratulated them on their achievement.
Also in attendance were a number of GRIC Council Representatives including Rodney Jackson of District 3, Carol Schurz
of District 2, Jennifer Allison of District 4, Sandra Nasewytewa of District 6, Nada Celaya of District 4, and Marlin Dixon of District 5
Lewis commented on the show of support from tribal leaders, emphasizing that it demonstrated how important education is to the Community.
“It’s really good to see everyone here, to see our Chief Azul Scholars and their families,” he said. “It really shows the support that we have from our leaders here, how important this night is to recognize educational excellence and community service, those bedrock principles [that] are the foundation for what [the] awards stand for,” he said.
He said the namesake of the Chief Azul Scholar Award was based on the Community’s last traditional chief, Antonio Azul, who embodied the award’s meaning of leadership, pursuit of education, and stewardship over the Community and its culture.
“It’s in that spirit that we are gathered here, that we see this new generation of leaders [who] will be taking over council [positions], [who] will be taking over our judges, lieutenant governor, [and] the governor positions,” Lewis said. “They are going to be better educated, they are going to be strong in their O’otham language and culture, they are going to be the ones [who] are going to move our people forward and not forget our past, that is what we are recognizing tonight.”
Guest speaker, Ginger Martin, talked about how the students should learn from people they encounter in their lives by taking something away from each meeting, whether good or bad. In doing so, they will continue to grow as individuals.
While talking about the qualities that embody leadership, Martin said that titles and positions do not make a true leader, it is the ability to be your most authentic self.
“Everything about who you are, your character, your reputation, your personality, your style, your values and even your sense of humor; these all shape the message your audience hears when you speak.”
She ended her speech saying, “I would like to leave you with my favorite quote from an unknown author, ‘Small people talk about other people, average people talk about things, great people talk about ideas,’” said Martin. “With that said, my Antonio Azul academic warriors, I look forward to speaking with you about ideas.”
The Chief Azul Scholar Award recognizes academic achievements of students from the fourth through twelfth grades, and undergraduate students. The Citizenship Award recognizes well performing GRIC high school seniors who possess a positive attitude and represent the ideal Community member. Winners of the Citizenship Award receive an all-expenses paid one-week trip to Washington D.C.