Arizona Rep. Gallego hosts MMIP roundtable
April 7, 2023
On Wednesday, March 22, Rep. Ruben Gallego hosted a roundtable at Native Health of Phoenix, where State and Tribal leaders and representatives convened to discuss the ongoing crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People.
Gila River Indian Community’s Lt. Gov. Monica Antone and Sunshine Manuel, Sr. Assistant General Counsel, participated in the discussion along with State Senator Theresa Hatathlie, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community President Martin Harvier, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Councilmember Mikah Carlos, Arizona Advisory Council on Indian Health Care Director, Kim Russell, and more. The meeting was held both in-person and virtual for anyone interested.
“Hearing from tribal leaders today, it is clear to me there’s much more work to be done to end the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People epidemic,” Rep. Gallego stated, “But this is why it is important we have a dialogue and continue engaging to find the solutions that work, and as I stated at today’s roundtable, I’m fully committed to not just championing solutions on the federal level, but supporting our tribal, local, and state leaders as they push their own efforts.”
Manuel said these discussions are a positive direction in addressing the MMIP issues that impact all of Arizona and surrounding tribal governments.
“I thought it was beneficial for us to get together and talk about the issues that are facing each individual communities and collaborate to see what each tribe is doing. I think that’s important, especially since the tribes are the best to respond to this issue,” said Manuel.
Sen. Hatathlie thanked Rep. Gallego for “creating and providing this intentional space to talk about this very important topic.”
“I think it’s important that we ask questions so that it prompts people to look at things from a different perspective, from our perspective,” said Sen. Hatathlie.
As each tribe has unique challenges, how these issues are solved will vary throughout the state.
“There’s not going to be a one-way in which this is going, we can address this issue, but I do think that it’s important for us to collaborate,” said Manuel, “Collaboration is going to be essential in addressing this issue, not only with the tribal governments, but with the state agencies and the federal government.”
While this topic is not new to the Community or tribes in general, Manuel said she feels like this has impacted the Community for quite some time.
“This makes me feel good that we are moving in this direction, that our voices are being heard and that the stories are being told, really being acknowledged, and that we’re doing something about it,” Manuel said, “As a community member, growing up within the community and knowing that this has impacted our Community, not only crime, domestic violence, alcoholism and substance abuse, it’s good to see that we are coming together to think of innovative and creative tribal specific ideas.”
She said she’s thankful to be a part of this, “I am very thankful for the Community for also being a trailblazer when it comes to looking at ways in which to address this matter.”