Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Welcomes Three New Tribal Council Members

Fort McDowell 2022 Inauguration Ceremony
L-R, Front Row: Councilman Gerald Doka, Treasurer Pansy P. Thomas; President Bernadine Burnette; and Secretary Verlene Enos. L-R, Back Row: Vice President Paul J. Russell and Councilman Albert C. Nelson.

FORT MCDOWELL , AZ – Recently, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation recognized the results of their 2022 General Election by welcoming Vice President Paul Russell, Secretary Verlene Enos and Council Member Albert Nelson to their recently named Tribal Council positions.

To keep tribal members safe during the still-pervasive COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural celebration was live streamed from the We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort, a tribal-owned enterprise. The festivities began with a welcome address by President Bernadine Burnette, followed by the posting of colors by the Fort McDowell Yavapai National Veterans Association and pledge of allegiance led by two members of the Youth Council. Antonio Armenta, U.S. Army, then conducted the invocation, after which Election Board President David McLevain shared the official election results.

Interim Chief Judge Kerry Passey then administered the oaths of office to Russell, Enos and Nelson, followed by traditional and Christian blessings bestowed by tribal elder Raphael Bear and Pastor Randall Ruiz, respectively.

A highlight of the virtual inauguration celebration was a video presentation featuring congratulatory remarks from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, recognizing the significant expertise and commitment that Russell, Enos and Nelson bring to these key leadership positions and the bright, exciting future that lies ahead for the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation.  Ernie Stevens, Jr., Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association added his well wishes from the Cedar Lakes Casino Hotel in Cass Lake, MN, owned by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe tribe.

Russell, Enos and Nelson each gave inaugural speeches pledging to further advance the health, prosperity and happiness of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. A traditional song by the Maswade Drum Group and benediction by SAGU American Indian College President Jonathan D. Gannon closed out the evening. 

“Inauguration ceremonies aren’t just the formal introduction of tribal officers,” said Burnette. “They symbolize the peaceful transition of power, reflecting the political will of our tribal members. I know how seriously each member of our Tribal Council takes their responsibilities and how hard they all work for the Yavapai people.”