Tribal Education Department sponsors youth for Washington D.C. trip

July 21, 2017


Communications & Public Affairs Department

Gila River Indian Community


The Tribal Education Department recently sponsored 15 youth from the Gila River Indian Community to visit Washington D.C. for a week of learning and sightseeing, June 18 - 23.


The individuals selected for the trip were recent high school graduates and recipients of the 2017 Citizenship Award which was presented to students that demonstrated exceptional character traits and citizenship. The trip was packed with opportunities for the youth to learn about history and visit numerous historical landmarks.


One advantage the group had was utilizing a private tour guide which provided the opportunity to learn about each historical site in depth. The group visited national monuments, which included the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, World War II Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Marine Corps War Memorial and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.


Visiting the monuments allowed the students to gain a greater understanding of the history of our country as well as the sacrifices made. While there was a tight schedule to keep the students were eager to keep learning. Next on the agenda was visiting the Natural History Museum, the International Spy Museum, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Visiting the Holocaust Memorial Museum was a very emotional experience. Witnessing some of the horrific imagery and hearing stories from those who survived was enlightening for many of the youth. After visiting the various museums the next stop was Arlington National Cemetery to witness the Changing of the Guard and to visit the grave of Ira Hayes. Several of the students joined together to sing a song in O’otham to honor him while visiting the gravesite.


The last portion of the trip, they visited the United States Capitol for a fascinating guided tour of the building. The tour showcased beautiful artwork, described the history of the building and illustrated how it has evolved into the magnificent building it is today. One of the final highlights of the trip was visiting Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which represents the Gila River Indian Community in various legal issues.


The youth were able to engage in a question and answer session, over a nice hot breakfast, with attorney Jason Hauter. Mr. Hauter is a Community member who has worked with the Akin and Gump firm for several years, and he was happy to engage with the group and answer any and all questions asked of him.


The trip was an overall great experience for those selected to attend. After five days braving the humidity in Washington D.C. the group returned back to Arizona with more knowledge and great memories!