Community Day kicks off Mul-Chu-Tha weekend
Roberto A. Jackson
Gila River Indian News
Community Day lived up to its name during the opening of the 57th Annual Mul-Chu-Tha Fair & Rodeo. All the things that the Community takes pride in were on display at the Sacaton Fairgrounds on March 8.
Young scholars and artists were applauded. Veterans and elders were honored. Student athletes heard cheers. Grand marshals were given center stage, and to end the night, the reign of the outgoing Gila River Royalty gently faded away while a new reign dawned for two eager young ladies.
The Tribal Education Department started at 3 p.m. with the presentation of the Mul-Chu-Tha essay and art contest winners. Over 400 entered, and Tribal Education announced 17 names of students from fourth to 12th grade in both contests.
The winning pieces of art were on display and the essay winners read their work for the crowd. All the first places winners received a $100 Foot Locker gift card with second and third place winning gift cards to AMC theaters for $75 and $50 respectively.
“Congratulations to our talented students,” said Isaac Salcido, Tribal Education Department Director.
Before the Veteran of the Year and Elder of the Year were announced, Gov. Lewis recognized high school wrestler Andrew Siquieros Jr., and the Skyline Gila River Boys Basketball team. Siquieros received a custom necklace and Skyline was presented with a plaque commemorating their season.
Roland Enos Jr. and Burdette Morago were announced as the Veteran of the Year and Elder of the Year respectively. A video presentation aired before each winner took the stage to give remarks and accept their award. Enos served in Iraq and Afghanistan and Morago was recently inducted into the University of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame.
Co-grand marshals were announced for this year’s parade with Barnaby Lewis and Brenda Robertson accepting the honor. Gov. Lewis and Lt. Gov. Stone acknowledged each grand marshal and presented them with Pendleton blankets.
Barbeque was then served and entertainment for the evening was provided by the Cody Blackbird Band with special guests from the Gila River Indian Community performing as well.
The Gila River Royalty Coronation and ensuing dance added a poignant coda to Community Day and brought together Miss Gila River Autumn Cooper, Jr. Miss Gila River Samaira Juan and Jr. Miss Gila River First Attendant Gabriella Garcia together for the final time before they rested their crowns and sashes for good.
“There’s nothing I love more than to represent my community but also to go out and share my message,” said Cooper, who’s message was about loving oneself and having self-confidence.
Juan and Garcia shared their experiences before Tyler Owens was crowned as Miss Gila River and Susanna Osife as Jr. Miss Gila River.
Osife, District 2, said she plans to make the most of her experiences for her 2019-2020 reign and Owens, District 5, said she was likewise enthusiastic to be Miss Gila River. “I’m so excited for this year,” said Owens, who’s platform is to uplift others through acceptance and inclusion.
Gov. Lewis thanked the outgoing royalty for their accomplishments and said, “I look forward to working with,” Owens and Osife.
The coronation ended with a dance, and Community Day resolved for all the awardees and well-wishers who shared in the goodness.
Essay Contest Winners
- 1st place, 4th grade, Bria Hutchinson, Sacaton Elementary School
- 2nd place, 4th grade, Julian Mark, Sacaton Elementary School
- 3rd place, 5th grade, Teresa Munoz, Saint Peter Indian Mission
6th, 7th and 8th Grade
- 1st place, 7th grade, Cassidy Chimerica, Saint Peter Indian Mission
- 2nd place, 8th grade, Jalen Peters, Saint Peter Indian Mission
- 3rd place, 8th grade, Allana White, Saint Peter Indian Mission
9th through 12th
- 1st place, 12th grade, Lorenza Aleman, Coolidge High School
- 2nd Place, 12th grade, Andrew Thomas, Coolidge High School
- 3rd place, 11th grade, Elaysia Colt, Casa Grande High School
Art Contest Winners
4th 5th Grade
- 1st place, 5th grade, Dennis Escalante, Skyline Gila River
- 2nd place, 4th grade, Alec Pino, Blackwater School
- 3rd place, 4th grade, Monica Benally, Blackwater School
6th, 7th and 8th Grade • 1st place, 8th grade, Angel Marquez, Coolidge Jr. High School
- 2nd place, 6th grade, Francis Histia, Sacaton Middle School
- 3rd place, 8th grade, De Angelo Goclanney, Sacaton Middle School
9th through 12th
- 1st place, 9th grade, Sineca Jackson, Hamilton High School
- 2nd place, 11th grade, Kaylyn Escalante, Coolidge High School
- No other entries