Mul-Chu-Tha: Elders and Veterans recognized at Community Day

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


This year’s Mul-Chu-Tha recognized three Community members, for their public service and inspiration to others. Community members Marlin Porter (D7), Billy Allen (D5) and Corrine Escalante (D5), were recognized, during the 58th Annual Mul-Chu-Tha Community Day at the Sacaton Fairgrounds on Mar. 6. 


Porter is a Vietnam Veteran, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1967, where he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 40th Field Artillery. The 1-40th FA, would see combat in the Vietnam war, in support of various counteroffensive operations, until it returned to stateside in 1969 to Fort Lewis Washington, where it was deactivated. 


Before military service, Porter was involved in track and field and cross country in high school, where he earned various accolades. He was named First Team All-State Cross Country in 1963, 1964 and 1965. In the recent spotlight, Porter was inducted into the Phoenix Union High School Districts Hall of Fame. 


“He’s very active in the Community advocating for veterans, in the Pee Posh Veterans Association and with the Phoenix Urban Members Association,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis. “He is someone special, as an elder and veteran, he epitomizes the spirit of the award and what that stands for,” said Lewis.  


“I am honored and proud of the award, that I have received, I am proud of all the accomplishments that I have made in my life,” said Porter. He looked back on his athletic accomplishments at Phoenix Union High School. 


“When you start a program for yourself in high school, day school, even in kindergarten, keep going, never stop and put your best foot forward. I like to see our young people go places, keep pushing themselves and be proud of it,” said Porter. 

He said, “I went to school at Phoenix Union, I ran all the way home to 10th street and Indian School road, I never took the bus, it was a warm-up for me. I committed myself to being the best, I wanted to be the best, but most of all I was proud of where I was from, Gila River.” 


Co-elder of the year awardee, William “Billy” Allen was not able to be present, while recovering from a health condition. “Growing-up we were always playing football, basketball or baseball,” said Allen. 


“It is an honor to be recognized by your own people. I thank the Mul-Chu-Tha Committee, all of [you] for the honor.” said Allen on being awarded co-elder of the year. In 1977, Allen was hired by Casa Grande Union High School, which began a career span of over 31 years at the school, as a cross country coach and assistant track coach, on top of his teaching position.


“A highlight of my coaching career was in 1981, the Cougars won the AAA State Cross Country Team title,” said Allen. On that team, six members from the Community, brought the state cross country title to CGUHS. 


Allen said he enjoyed coaching the students, that came through the cross-country team, and the influence he’s had on them. 


Allen said, in the face of opportunities and challenges, “When you adjust, change or deal with it, you will come out alright.” 


“He definitely had to sacrifice a lot being a teacher and a coach, this really means a lot to him,” said Linda Soto, Allen’s daughter. She thanked several others, who supported their father during his time as a coach, educator and even while his health was recovering. 


“I just want to thank the people that voted me to [this],” said Corrine Escalante, co-elder of the year. She said her life has taken her from state to state, while her husband worked for Lockheed Martin Aerospace Company. Escalante said she was apprehensive about receiving the award, but that her family told her to be proud of the recognition. 


Whether it consisted of providing volunteer work with her church, raising a family, or working at Dave’s Trading Post in Sacaton for several years, Escalante was known by all to always have a smile on her face.  


“My family has really helped me out on all kinds of things, I praise my Lord and I thank [him] for that, he’s brought me through a lot of trials,” said Escalante, who is also a cancer survivor. 


Tammy Histia, Assistant Culture Coordinator for Tribal Education said “She’s a tough lady, but loving and strong in her church and community.” Histia said she has developed a long friendship with Escalante, that goes back to her childhood. 

“It’s about her faith, her devotion to her family, community and church,” said Lewis. He said her generosity spans across the many family members and those she has touched through her kindness.