Gov. Lewis Welcomes Super Bowl LVII with Historic Land Acknowledgement
Gila River Indian News
For the first time in the history of hosting Super Bowl games, the NFL included tribal representation before and during the event. To kick off Super Bowl week, Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis presented a land acknowledgment prior to the first press conference by the Arizona Super Bowl LVII Host Committee on Feb. 6, at the Phoenix Convention Center.
During the press conference, Gov. Lewis shared the cultural significance of Phoenix’s history as the ancestral homelands of the O’otham and Pee-Posh, recognized Arizona as home to 22 federally recognized tribes, and welcomed all parties to the Valley for one of the most significant events for the state this year.
“On behalf of my people, on behalf of the 22 tribes of Arizona, we’re honored to be hosts of this year’s Super Bowl,” Gov. Lewis said, “I want to take the opportunity to sincerely welcome all of you to our ancestral homelands here in the Valley.”
“My ancestors, the ancestors of the O’otham people, have been on these homelands since time immemorial farming the lands surrounding our sacred river, the Keli Akimel, the Gila River. We are Akimel O’otham and Pee Posh.”
Gov. Lewis then alluded to the hospitality the O’otham and Pee Posh are known for and described how pleased he is for the Community to serve as a host for this “world event”— the Philadelphia Eagles stayed at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass Resort this year.
Guests for the press conference included Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee President and CEO Jay Parry, Executive Vice President of Club Business & League Events Peter O’Reilly, Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Board Chair David Rousseau and Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Executive Board Chair Larry Fitzgerald.
“We’re ready to host an epic week of events and to showcase what makes Arizona a world class destination,” Parry said, “We’re thrilled to welcome the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles to the Valley of the Sun for what’s called the most exciting and most watched game in the U.S.”
Gov. Lewis also expressed his gratitude for all the programming the host committee provided for GRIC youth. Beginning in January, it held numerous flag football camps.
“Your commitment to our youth in the Community and youth in Arizona means so much to our resiliency and future generations,” Gov. Lewis said. “They matter to our young people, parents and elders. They showed the NFL’s true commitment to the future generations of Indigenous youth.”
Indigenous representation continued throughout the Super Bowl LVII festivities and game. Lucinda “La Morena” Hinojos (Xicana, Apache, Yaqui) created the official artwork on the 60,000 tickets, the game ball and around the stadium, and the NFL commissioned her and a team of Indigenous artists to paint a 9,500-square-foot mural on the Monarch Theater in downtown Phoenix.
For the first time in its history, the NFL read a land acknowledgment prior to the game. The pre-game ceremony also featured Collin Denny (Diné) using a blend of sign languages to translate “America the Beautiful,” and at least two Indigenous players and one Native official were on the field.