District 7 Welcomes Community Back for 158th Annual Mustering In Day Celebration
Gila River Indian News
The 158th Annual Mustering In Day Celebration returned to District 7 on Saturday, Sept. 9, gathering residents from across GRIC and the state to honor and celebrate the voluntary mustering of O’otham and Pee Posh men in 1865. The event also paid tribute to active military service and veterans for keeping the tradition of military service alive.
Despite heat advisories, dozens of cars lined 87th Avenue along the District 7 Multi-purpose building for the parade, which saw 14 entries representing various tribal programs, departments, enterprises, color guards, O’otham and Pee Posh traditional dance groups, and Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis and Lt. Gov. Monica Antone.
But even before the parade, 70 participants arrived to take part in the one-mile, two-mile, and three-mile fun run/walk.
District 7 members Jennifer Perchero and her son Waylon Pahona returned this year to recount the event’s history. Pahona shared how the “mustering in” of 94 Pee Posh and 88 O’otham men in 1865 formed the nation’s “first national guard,” and is why everyone gathered on this day.
“The mustering in of those volunteers on Sept. 2, 1865 established the first Arizona national guard…we are the first protectors, let that sink in, we are the first protectors of the land, region, we protected our people and others. We were the first national guard, we are warriors. 158 years later, we are still here, strong, resilient and thriving together as a Community and we will continue this tradition, just as our relatives did,” said Pahona.
“It’s 2023, we just came out of COVID so it’s a blessing to be here with you all today again. Thank you all for being here today and honoring the Mustering In Day history, this includes all of our veterans here today, thank you for your service and for keeping that tradition alive,” said Lt. Gov. Monica Antone during her welcoming remarks.
Also, during the morning, all veterans in attendance were asked to be recognized by the planning team. Nine veterans were honored with a commemorative set of military dog tags presented as a token of appreciation.
Attendees found relief from the heat when the customary Bird Dance Social took place in the District 7 gymnasium as the temperatures rose in the afternoon.
Like the annual Mul-Chu-Tha, Mustering In draws many back to the Community to gather with family and loved ones. This year, 98-year-old Dorothy Monahan returned home from Gallup, NM. to celebrate Mustering In with her family and Community. When asked about the event returning in person, she smiled and replied, “It was good.”
Mustering In Day Celebration Parade winners are:
First place - Estrella Mountain Traditional Dance Group
Second place – Little Miss Hualapai
Third place – A’chem Traditional Dance Group