Gila River Indian Community remembers Sen. John McCain

On behalf of the Gila River Indian Community I want to express my sincere condolences regarding the passing of Senator John McCain to his wife Cindy and family.


Although not born and raised in Arizona, John McCain was a true Arizonan.  As a leader of a tribal nation, we were thankful that he took the time to learn our issues and to respect us as the governments we are.  He believed in tribal sovereignty and self-determination and understood that tribal communities do best when we are allowed to govern at our local level. 


He worked tirelessly to develop a settlement to the Cobell class action lawsuit involving hundreds of thousands of individual Indian money accounts.


In 2014, Senator McCain visited our Community and met with Community Council, Veterans, and Community members.  He toured HuHuKam Memorial, met with children from our Head Start Program, and laid a wreath at the Ira Hayes Memorial to honor Ira Hayes and all the Community’s veterans.


In the few times I was fortunate to meet with Senator McCain, he since always remembered our Head Start children singing the O’otham songs they were learning.  He told me that was a highlight of his visit that he always remembered and cherished.


Senator McCain’s door was always open and he always made himself available to meet with you, even if you didn’t agree with his opinion on something.  He was willing to find compromise in order to make progress.


Senator McCain was friends with people from all walks of life, including my late father, Rodney Lewis, with their friendship spanning over 40 years. He held himself and others to a high standard and knew our time on this earth is limited.  He always tried to act and make decisions with the utmost honor.  There are few like him, and the Gila River Indian Community offers our prayers and healing to his family.  While there is much sadness right now, I hope that all Arizonans will take some time to celebrate a life well-lived. 


John McCain was a war hero, a statesman, and a patriot.  For those of us in Indian Country who were privileged enough to have worked with him, he was a fierce advocate for our interests as tribes. 


 I and Lieutenant Governor Stone proudly represented our Community at yesterday’s Memorial Service. The service was powerful and a testament to his legacy and service to our Country.


We in the Community were blessed to have him on our side. From our water settlement, to our trust accounting, to health and education; he was always there.  He was an inspiration to us all, and we will sorely miss him.


- Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis