Navajo, Hopi recognized at Chase Field during Native American Recognition Day

Royalty showed up in large numbers for Native American Recognition Day at Chase Field June 3. From left: Miss Hopi First Attendant Kelly Tungovia, Miss Indian Arizona First Attendant Kaelie Nash, Miss Indian Arizona Mariah Sharpe, Miss Indian Arizona Second Attendant Lexie James and Miss Hopi Mikela Gamble. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

Royalty showed up in large numbers for Native American Recognition Day at Chase Field June 3. From left: Miss Hopi First Attendant Kelly Tungovia, Miss Indian Arizona First Attendant Kaelie Nash, Miss Indian Arizona Mariah Sharpe, Miss Indian Arizona Second Attendant Lexie James and Miss Hopi Mikela Gamble. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Navajos, Hopis and many other tribal members were recognized during Native American Recognition Day (NARD) throughout the Arizona Diamondbacks ballpark at Chase Field June 3.

NARD, sponsored by Gila River Hotel and Casino, recognized youth softball and baseball players, tribal royalty and Native American dancers and singers.

The event followed the 20th annual Intertribal Youth baseball and softball tournament. The top four teams in each category received trophies from the youth tournament that was held May 31-June 3 at various sites in the Phoenix valley.

There were 1,170 youth participants in the tournament including 78 teams from six states representing 27 tribes.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are the only major league baseball team to host a youth baseball and softball tournament for Native American youth. Part of the proceeds from tickets went to benefit the Phoenix Indian Center and the Intertribal Council of Arizona.

The teams that earned trophies were recognized during the pregame ceremony that included a parade of the teams. The awards were given on the warning track. That was followed by recognizing the tribal royalty, which filled up about half the space down the right field foul line from first base on.

Tribal singers and drummers performed before the game, including the Hopi Senom Club. There were also Native American vocalists, artisans and educational exhibits spread throughout the ballpark during the pregame ceremonies.

Ira Hayes American Legion Post #84 posted the colors, Kahara Hodges sang the national anthem and Gila River Indian Community Lt. Gov. Robert Stone threw out the first pitch.

Hodges, a Dineh from Ganado, sang the national anthem for the third time for this event. She wasn’t supposed to be on this year, but someone dropped out.

“I was so excited when they called,” she said. “It’s so amazing that the Diamondbacks do this. It is so important for our people to get recognition.”

Hodges, who recently graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in American Indian Studies, is now based in Los Angeles where she is involved with music and modeling.

Miss Hopi Mikela Gamble said it was fabulous that the Diamondbacks supported NARD.

“This is awesome. It shows that we are still here participating with our traditions,” she said.

Cano Sanchez, known for his work with the band Clandestine, served as master of ceremony for the pregame activities with the dance groups.

“We all hear the first same song when we are born: the heartbeat of the mother. So, respect your mothers and grandmothers, Sanchez said.

Miss Indian World Taylor Susan, who hails from White Mountain Apache, said “It’s wonderful that our hometown baseball team recognizes indigenous people. It’s a great reminder to all people how beautiful our tribal culture is.”

Susan said her job as Miss Indian World is to serve as a well-rounded ambassador and represent all Indian nations.

In the Single A Division, for those 9-12, the Gila River Bears from Sacaton won the championship; the Lehi Li from Salt River placed second; the Pirates from Casa Blanca took third; and the Chinle Windtalkers finished fourth.

The Single A all-tournament team included: 1-Cody Gallardo from Chinle Windtalkers; 2-Enrique Chilos from the Pirates; 3-Elijah Miguel from the Pirates; 4-Bryshonne Maez from the Raiders; 5-Mikey Maez from the Raiders; 6-Jesse Chavez from the Raiders; 7-Lorenzo Ruvalcaba from the Gila River Bears; and 8-Alijah Apkaas from the Bears.

Kody Mix from the Gila River Bears won the MVP.

In the Double A Division for those 13-15, the Az. Savages from Sacaton won the championship. The Shiprock Angels grabbed second place, the Cochiti Sun Devils from Shiprock, N.M., took third and Stateline Warriors from Parker placed fourth.

The Double A All-Tournament team included 1-Joe Martinez from the Stateline Warriors; 2-Lorenzo Garcia from the Sun Devils; 3-Devry Vigil from the Sun Devils; 4-Rametrisu Benally from Shiprock Angles; 5-Tomiko Pioche from Shiprock Angels; Kai Wilbur from Shiprock Angels; 7-Emilio Brown from Az. Savages; 8-Ryan Gastelum from Az. Savages.

Manny Alverez from Az Saves won the MVP Award in Double A Division.

In the Triple A Baseball Divison, for high school players, the Lehi Raiders from Salt River Indian Community won the championship. MBCI from Mississippi grabbed second place, Guadalupe Warriors from Tempe took third and the Canes from Peridot, Az., finished fourth.

The Triple A Baseball All-Tournament team included: 1-Kendall Stanley from the Canes; 2-Charlie Cano from the Guadalupe Warriors; 3-JR Thomas from the Guadalupe Warriors; 4-Shia Moore from MBCI; 5-Reyes Willis from MBCI; 6-Dewayne Cotton from MBCI; 7-Nick Cortez from the Lehi Raiders; and 8-Danny Lopez from Lehi Raiders.

Eric Makil from the Lehi Raiders won the MVP in the Triple A Baseball Division.

In the Triple A Softball Division, for high school players, the Az/NM Devil Dogs from Phoenix won the championship. The Bravettes from Needles, Calif., grabbed second place; the Fort Defiance Mariners from Window Rock took third and NM Stix from Kirtland, N.M., finished fourth.

The Triple A softball all-tournament team included 1-Dominique McGilbert from NM Stix; 2-Clara Spencer from Ft. Defiance Mariners; 3-Gabrielle Simpson from Ft. Defiance Mariners; 4-Michaela King from the Bravettes; 5-Tiana Williams from the Bravettes; 6-Alyssa Smokey from the Bravettes; 7-Lisa Begay from the Devil Dogs; and 8-Tiana Sandoval from the Devil Dogs.

Mia Yellowman from the Devil Dogs won the MVP in the Triple A Softball Division.


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