AOPPYC Goes Virtual with Annual Event that Focuses on Tribal Government and History

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


On Mar. 27, the Akimel O’odham/ Pee-Posh Youth Council (AOPPYC) hosted its annual “Close Up” event, staging it online for the first time. Normally, Close Up – which educates young GRIC members about the inner workings of the Community – happens in person for three days during Spring Break. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Close Up was canceled, so the AOPPYC was excited to see its return in a one-day virtual session this year. 


“[Our youth] need to know what their Constitution is and how it affects them on a daily basis,” said Michael Preston, the Community’s Youth Council Coordinator. “The youth need to know how powerful their involvement is and how it extends further than a vote every three years.” 


Preston facilitates Close Up along with guest speakers and members of the GRIC Community Council. Preston sees Close Up as a means of deepening the youth’s knowledge of the Community to serve as leaders in the future. 


The curriculum provides an in-depth look at establishing the Community’s government as a sovereign nation, including forming its “reservation” land base and Community court system. During the presentation, youth demonstrate what they know about their Community. Many leave with an improved understanding, as evidenced by an assessment at the end.


First-time participant Jada Young said she learned a great deal during the session. “It is so important to at least have a basic understanding of how our government works while also educating yourself about our history,” said Young.


“Close Up was so useful and helpful, and it deepened my own understanding of every concept we were taught, and it made me smarter.” Clarice Johnson described the lesson on the history of the Water Rights Settlement Act of 2004 as especially interesting. “Close Up is important because we take in new information and review information we already know and still learn more,” said Johnson.


“And even if you know the information, it helps you remember and keeps it fresh inside your head.” All Close Up participants complete a pre and post-assessment analysis to gauge the amount of information they acquire through the program. All participants regularly show comprehensive improvement on their post-assessment thus indicating the   success of the program. 


“I was so surprised to see how much my knowledge increased in just a short amount of time,” said Jada Young. “At the end of the session, I got a 20 out of 20 on my test.”