LAVEEN, AZ – Vice President Kamala Harris recently became the first sitting U.S. President or Vice President to visit the Gila River Indian Community when she spoke to a crowd of about 800 elected leaders, officials from Arizona tribes and community members gathered at the Gila Crossing Community School.
Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis, who met with Harris prior to her remarks and accompanied the Vice President and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff on a tour of the community’s Reclaimed Water Pipeline Project, also addressed the crowd, calling the Biden-Harris administration “a true partner” with Indian Country.
“This administration has taken partnership to a whole new level,” said Gov. Lewis. “They have brought tribes genuinely to the table, working with us on important investments and solutions for each tribe’s unique needs.”
Harris met privately with O’otham youth prior to her remarks while the Second Gentleman met with community veterans. The Vice President’s speech focused on federal-tribal partnerships involving infrastructure, including the recent water conservation projects to address the drought in the Lower Basin. She also touted the Biden administration’s commitment to expanding voting rights for Native Americans, to working to solve the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, and to protect the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was recently upheld by a decision of the United State Supreme Court.
“Together we will continue to work together in partnership toward a future where all of our children can realize their God-given potential, a better future for this generation and seven generations to come,” said Vice President Harris. “In that fight, together we will work to continue to strengthen this partnership, to count on your leadership, and to work together in support of our common cause.”
Calling the visit from Harris “a historic meeting,” Gov. Lewis talked about what it meant to the community to have the Vice President single out Gila River for such a tour.
“This was about an equal partnership,” said Lewis. “In that way, we can truly collaborate to address important issues, including climate change, economic development among tribes, and protecting voting rights for tribal members. Her as Vice President coming to the community as the sole reason she came to Arizona today really represents the administration’s commitment to Indian Country.”