O’Halleran said his goal is to build “integrity, trust, warmth, and friendship” into tribal-state interactions. He also promised to visit all 21 reservations and to institute monthly meetings with tribes.
SRPMIC President Joni Ramos spoke on the need to form “partnerships based on trust.”
As a single mother making $9,000 a year, Ramos was distressed to learn that she was disqualified for valuable Head Start programs for her children.
“Education is the cornerstone” of building strong communities, said Ramos. She also noted that the tribes voluntarily entered into gaming compacts that share revenue with the state.
“We didn’t have to do it, but we believed it was the right thing to do…You need us, and we need you, ” Ramos said.
Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. spoke on the need for the tribes and state to combat the “diseases and plagues” that know no color.
“All we ask is a fair share, equal treatment,” said Shirley.
Before and after lunch on the House lawn, various legislative committees heard presentations from tribes on a variety of concerns. One compelling presentation was by Tohono O’odham Chairman Edward Manuel on his tribe’s efforts to stop illegal immigration and drug smuggling on his land. People gasped when Manuel displayed a picture of an airline ticket dating to August 2001, paid for with cash for a Middle Eastern man.
“In 2001, the Nation arrested over 200 non-Mexican nationals,” he said.
Former Hopi Chairman Ferrel Secakuku summed up the day.
“Although [tribes] are sovereign on a level with you [the state], someday we’ll all have to stand together,” he said.