District 5 Residents Celebrate Earth Day with Cleanup
May 06, 2022
Gila River Indian News
At the second annual District 5 Earth Day cleanup April 22, a dozen Gila River Indian Community residents armed with trash bags and gloves assembled to gather debris near the road and parceled area of the recently demolished Arts and Crafts Center. The effort helped the Community ensure it remains clean and safe for the remaining plants and wildlife at the site.
“We started as an Earth Day cleanup during the pandemic in 2021, consisting of a small gathering of folks,” said Nichole Roderick, District 5 Community Services Department. “Today, we decided to include the Arts and Crafts site since it’s our second beloved project in the Community. Right now, there are plans to develop this area in the future, so we’re trying to keep it as clean as possible and let people know it’s very dear to us.”
Lt. Gov. Monica Antone, who also joined the effort, said, “Being out here for Earth Day, what does that really mean? It means being stewards of the land, the wildlife, the water, and when you do that, it takes care of us, as people. Whenever there’s a cleanup in the Community, I love to help because we’re all taking care of our land together, keeping it clean and safe. It’s a way of showing how much we appreciate our land.”
While carefully observing a nest of cactus wren chicks, Robert Johnson, Huhugam Heritage Center’s language specialist, reminded everyone of how important wildlife is when talking about Earth Day.
“Our history tells us that we need to take care of the Earth, and we all have to respect the land, plants and the wildlife; the Earth in general,” said Johnson, who is from District 5 and helped build the Arts and Crafts Center, providing him with a unique tie to the site and a vested interest in helping keep it clean.
After the cleanup, Lt. Gov. Antone stated, “The land is always going to be important, especially when we think about the climate change we’re facing. For us, it’s about being stewards of the land, as Indigenous people, to take care of Mother Earth, which is sacred and also something we live off.”