Tribal Leaders convene for first-ever Indian Nations & Tribes State of the State Address
Gila River Indian News
On the morning of Jan. 10, before the 29th Annual Indian Nations & Tribes Legislative Day started, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs delivered the first Tribal State of the State address. It was a revision of her general State of the State address in which she outlined goals and accomplishments in working with tribes and maintaining partnerships.
Hobbs joined the Inter Tribal Association of Arizona (ITAA) as it hosted state tribal leaders including Gila River Indian Community’s Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis and Lt. Gov. Regina Antone at the Heard Museum’s Steele Auditorium in Phoenix.
Recapping the ways her office has broadened relations with tribes, Hobbs noted that the Governor’s Office on Tribal Relations previously had only one staff member. On day one of her administration, she said, she expanded staff, brought on tribal members and began to revitalize the office.
“The Governor’s Office of Tribal Relations has already transformed the state’s relationship with all of you and it’s critical that we are able to keep this momentum going,” she stated.
Also, during last year’s Indian Nations & Tribes Legislative Day, she invited tribal leaders to the Executive Tower at the State Capitol. Many of those leaders had never been invited to the governor’s office, she recalled, despite serving their communities for many years.
“You have my word, for as long as I am governor, you will always be welcome on the ninth floor,” Hobbs stated. She added, “While my door is certainly always open, I know how important it is to meet with each of you in your communities.”
She also discussed topics crucial to tribes including education, public safety, transportation, broadband internet services, housing and water.
Hobbs emphasized that the state recently has seen the most impactful water negotiations in years, adding, “It’s also why I have made sure tribes will continue to have a seat at the table as we navigate the future.”
Last year, Hobbs appointed Gov. Lewis, Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel, Colorado River Indian Tribes Chairwoman Amelia Flores, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Executive Director Maria Dadgar and Navajo Nation Legal Counsel Bidtah Becker to her Water Policy Council.
She said their perspectives were key to ensuring that the council’s proposals took tribal needs into account.
The Hobbs administration also resumed water settlement discussions and put an end to prohibiting tribes from putting lands into trust.
She added, “I will continue working with everybody: farmers and agriculturalists, urban and rural communities, local and regional entities, and the leaders here in this room today to find the solutions we need to ensure our water is secure tomorrow and for the future.”