AOPPYC Inauguration Ushers in 2022 Cohort
November 4, 2022
On Saturday, Oct. 22, The Akimel O’odham/ Pee-Posh Youth Council (AOPPYC) held its inauguration, in person, at the Huhugam Heritage Center. The event saw new members sworn in, new executive officers taking their oath of office, outgoing members recognized, and guest speakers encouraging them as they began the new year.
Founded in 1988, the AOPPYC is the country’s oldest running Native American youth council. Now in its 35th year, the new executive officers are Ariana Blackwater, President; Junior Pancott, Vice-President; Jada Young, Secretary; and Eliana Rhodes, Treasurer.
“My goal for this year is to give the same exciting experiences I’ve had with the AOPPYC, to the youth in the Community and let them know they have a voice and don’t have to wait to be the future leaders of the Community, they can be leaders today,” said AOPPYC President Ariana Blackwater.
Judge Darren Pedro-Martinez oversaw the swearing-in of the new and returning members of the AOPPYC that evening. Judge Pedro-Martinez is also an AOPPYC Advisory Board member.
“The youth council has done a good job keeping our youth vibrant providing activities through-out the pandemic, so today’s an important occasion for us to welcome our new leaders today,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis during his address. “All of the youth throughout the Community look up to you all, you’re serving as positive role models for your peers and I commend you all for stepping up and representing our youth, I’m so proud of you all.”
Former GRIC Governor Greg Mendoza, one of the founders of the AOPPYC, was present as a guest speaker. During this time, Mendoza announced that AOPPYC President Ariana Blackwater would attend the White House Tribal Youth Summit in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14.
This one-day summit will feature an exciting all-day program with high-level administration officials, special guests, and Native youth from across Indian Country to engage in key discussions, including mental health, wellness, climate change, food sovereignty, education, and more.
Lt. Gov. Antone provided the closing remarks for the event. Lt. Gov. Antone commended the AOPPYC for supporting the Community vaccination efforts and praised their creativity in delivering virtual activities for their peers during the pandemic.
“I feel that one of these youth will be a next Council Representative, Chief Judge, Lieutenant Governor, or Governor for the Community,” said Lt. Gov. Antone during her closing remarks. “And I’m grateful to be here tonight to see that we now have a fully armed youth council to carry us forward into the next year.”