GRIC Celebrates 156th Annual Mustering-In Day Honoring Arizona’s First National Guard

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


The Community celebrated the 156th Annual Mustering-In Day virtually this year, online and on Gila River Broadcasting Corp.’s (GRBC) channel 29.1 on Saturday, Sept 11.


The celebration continued the legacy of honoring what is known as Arizona’s First National Guard. The event included awards presentations, traditional O’otham and Pee Posh songs, and performances by One Way Sky and Gertie and the T.O. Boyz.


“Today and for the past 50 years, The Gila River Indian Community continues to honor the Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh men who were mustered-in to help defend and protect the land,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis in his opening remarks. 


Following Gov. Lewis’ opening remarks, Lt. Governor Monica Antone read aloud the history of the significance of Mustering-In Day.


“Every year in September, the GRIC gathers to recognize the significant event known as Mustering-In Day,” said Lt. Gov. Antone. “The event takes place in District 7, where festivities commence in honor of the Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh, who were mustered in to help defend and protect the land.” 


Lt. Gov. Antone shared that in the 1860s, military presence in the Arizona Territory was limited due to the American Civil War. Few soldiers were available to protect the land and people against raids and territorial disputes. This led to the U.S. authorizing five companies of volunteer soldiers in the fall of 1865. 


“Pee Posh Chief Juan Chavaria led Company B with 94 men, and Akimel O’otham Chief Antonio Azul led Company C with 88 men,” Lt. Gov. Antone explained. “Together they became known as the First National Guard of Arizona.” 


District 7 elder Nathan Mercado sang a Pee Posh honor song during a slideshow presentation featuring images from past Mustering-In Day celebrations. The slideshow included photos of this year’s honorees, including Elgin Sunn; 2021 Mustering-In Day Grand Marshal; Devin Redbird, District 7 Councilman; and Marcos Martinez, the 2021 Volunteer of the Year.


Woven throughout the speakers and performances were numerous traditional O’otham and Pee Posh songs and dances, from “Bird Singing and Dancing By the River” (SRP-MIC), Kevin Stevens (District 7), and “Achem A’al Basket Dancers” (GRIC).


The event began and ended with the presentation and retiring of the colors by the Pee Posh Veterans Association. In addition to the performances, District 7 Community Members were treated to an evening fireworks display, viewable from home.