Gila River Royalty says farewell at Community Council meeting

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


Autumn Cooper, Miss Gila River, Samaira Juan, Jr. Miss Gila River and Gabriella Garcia, First Attendant to Jr Miss Gila River, all bid farewell to their title reigns, at a Community Council meeting at the Governance Center on March 6.


“This year has really impacted me a lot and I have grown more personally, this past year. To attend several events and represent the Community has been an eye-opening experience,” said Garcia. 


Juan said, “It has been such an honor to serve as the Jr. Miss Gila River 2018-2019. I am so grateful to have gotten this title to represent the Gila River Indian Community.” She said her year was marked with getting to know the Community from the youth to the elders. 


“I couldn’t have done it without the help of my family and especially my teachers from St. Peter Indian Mission School,” said Juan, “The culture teachers, Mr. Hall and Mrs. Harrison taught me all I know about my culture, including the elders who taught me a lot.”


Copper said, “This year has brought me several experiences and challenges, but I’ve learned a lot from not only our elders, but our youth.” She said, one of her platforms, was to reach out to the youth and hear what challenges they are going through and how they can find positivity in themselves. 


“I was able to speak to the youth at the Gila River Youth Conference last year and talk about my platform, body positivity and self-identify,” said Cooper, “I was able to talk with our elders and youth at the Caring House and Residential Program for Youth facilities, through different opportunities.”  


She said it is not every day, someone sits down and listens to their struggles, and what affects them growing up in the Community, that can negatively impact their development into strong adults. 


Juan said, when she visited the elderly at each of the districts, they gave her good advice on her role as Jr. Miss Gila River and her ambitions to run for Miss Gila River. She visited the elders during the holidays to spend time with them and bring some Christmas cheer to their day and gain valuable advice from them. 


“For my platform, I wanted to promote health and wellness and to promote our culture too,” said Juan. During her reign, she taught the youth traditional dances, at some of the head start facilities in the Community.