Gila River O’otham Vets Host Veterans Pow Wow
Gila River Indian News
The Gila River O'otham Veterans Association celebrated the completion of their 1st Annual Veterans Day Pow Wow May 25 at the Rawhide Event Center at Wild Horse Pass. Over 200 people gathered to honor the service of veterans in attendance and remember those who passed. This event was nine years in the making and was well attended by many throughout the state of Arizona.
"Today is a day to honor all our fallen veterans from back to our traditional tribal warriors up to today,” stated Douglas Juan of the O'otham Veterans Association. Mr. Juan, United States Army Veteran, serves as the Chairman for the O'otham Veterans Association Celebration. This celebration is the association’s first event that served as a community-wide Memorial Day celebration that took about a year to prepare.
The O’otham Veterans Association formed in 2010 by veterans from across the Gila River Community. The association collaborated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to host "Stand Down" events throughout the Community. These events would serve as resource fairs for veterans to find new and existing services available for them. Later other tribes would become part of these events to collaborate and support one another including Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and The Tohono O'odham Nation.
Co-Chairman of the O'otham Association Celebration and Officer of the Ira H. Hayes Legion Post 84 Tony McDaniel, United States Navy, looks forward to the event growing more significantly every year. In the coming years, he hopes to see more dancers but said 30 Gourd Dancers present is a great sign for a first-time event. Lastly, he wants to see a higher number of contributions to their Honor Table. The Honor Table is a communal space for veterans’ family members to place photos to honor and remember all GRIC veterans together.