Trekking the Journey: Part one of Kwatsan Radio’s sit down interview with Vice President Ronda Aguerro and Councilman Virgil Smith

Kawiits Kamathuum Kwatsan Nation?!! This past Friday Kwatsan Radio reached another first! By conducting a sit down interview with two active members of our Tribal council. We collected questions from YOU our loyal fans and threw some in ourselves. Which we feel at the end of the day was an amazing opportunity and the beginning of many more interviews to come.

Allows us to set the mood for you first. Our interview was conducted in the Tribal chambers which has undergone a beautiful Christmas makeover. The atmosphere simply felt warm and inviting. Which to me (Kenrick Escalanti)  is a major change for our Tribal chambers.

Our first questions was: How was your trip to Washington D.C.? What did you take from the 3rd annual Tribal Leaders Summit held by the Obama Administration? 

Councilman Smith:“It was an experience, this was my first time in lobbying and it was a bit nerve racking but I was able to meet with State representatives to share our needs for a Tribal Clinic.”

Councilman Smith then went on to share that the Quechan weren’t alone in lobbying for the clinic but in fact Cocopah representatives were there as well and met briefly with each other to utilize their schedule meetings with the D.C. representatives with a joint message. Another point councilman Smith brought up was when he asked the representative if in the past has our Tribe had a presence here with their office.

Councilman Smith:“I did enquire on how many times a Tribal councilman or Tribal representative had visited and the answer was hardly ever and its been a while and they were glad to see us and at the same time having Cocopah there was hopefully a double whammy by having both us there fighting for the same cause.”

This led to another question about the relationship with Cocopah and moving forward together in a partnership in making a new clinic a reality?

Councilman Smith: “I think we are in a good place, we believe both sides are willing to sit down on the issue. The main thing we needed to do was get caught up to speed to where there were at and now we are and its our intention to meet with them and move forward.”

Vice President Aguerro:“It’s not uncommon to receive a text from President Cordova (Cocopah) on what’s our schedule and can we meet on this issue.”

The VP then went on to say that Cocopah took a wait and see approach letting us “Catch a breath” with the contesting of our Tribal Elections and they didn’t want to encage to much with council until they were all sworn into office.

Vice President Aguerro:“So I want to say, Yes I think we can now look forward to having a more positive footing with the Cocopah and we look forward to meeting with them. Its now a matter of When, the Where has yet to be determined if they are willing to come here (Ft.Yuma) or if we are going to them or like how President Cordova likes to joke somewhere in between.”

The Vice President then chimed in on her experience to the 3rd Annual Tribal Leaders Summit. She started by explaining how this was her second trip to D.C. as a representative of our Tribal Nation. The first time was as a councilwoman with former councilman Emilio Escalanti and former President Courtney Coyle regarding Indian Pass. During that trip she was schooled on how to dress, communicate, and where to go and not to go. This helped her in her second trip when advising first timer Councilman Smith. In regards to the summit VP Aguerro pointed out that the closed sessions for the leaders were very packed and was not allotted adequate time for so many representative of Indian Country. What she did take from it was that Indian Country  is dealing with major issues as a collective when it comes to Education, Economic Development, Job Creation, Health Care and Health Care Facilities, Water Rights, Entitlements/Settlements, and True Government to Government Consultation.

Vice President Aguerro:“The panel we spoke to were a mixed group but overall all departments that spoke to us gave us all similar answers which were quite vague”

Even though the VP felt that the panel were vague in their answers. She left feeling like they were willing to open the door to communication but it would take the initiative of the Tribal Government to make a face in Washington by expanding their 2012 budget for D.C. travel to consistently remind the Washington bureaucracy that the Quechan Nation is alive and has a voice, a voice seeking help and partnership.

Vice President Aguerro:“To have a first name relationship with the Department of Interior. That’s what other Tribes have and that’s where we fall behind.”

THE OBAMA MOMENT

Vice President Aguerro:“He is exactly how you see him on TV, mannerisms, appearance, voice, and the message…To have true interaction with Tribes and continue to see change.”  

It was a real rock star moment, stars in the eyes… oh my gosh!”

But after it all settled in the Vice President closed her thoughts on D.C. with this,

We are not nearly recognized as other Tribe as we need to be…It is up to all of us as a Council not just our President, we all take that responsibility and we all agree on that…We have lived long under it is a one man rule that we need to shift away from that thought and it needs to be a whole relationship developed by this council and councils to come…And the membership must also remember that we ALL need to be heard and with all the infighting among us with Petition here and Petition there our voice gets left behind.”

At this moment VP Aguerro was speaking on the bigger picture. The idea of “The one man rule” administration was over and that moving forward with this new leadership would be a collective leadership and that it would also take a Tribe as a whole to achieve positive momentum. The biggest point we took from all this was our fighting among each other must stop. Because while we continue are battles outside life is moving on without us.

Last bit of info on our future IHS Clinic:“We have missed the funding for our healthcare facility for 2012, 2013, but for 2014 ITCA and IHS have invited Tribal leaders to Phoenix on the 19th, 20th to begin the process to discuss Tribal needs for 2014…I am curious to see about if we can actively pursue other grants or loans to do this ourselves, to get this built and to say to IHS to fill in the gaps…There needs to be alternative thinking.” Vice President Ronda Aguerro

This covered only a portion of our interview, in our part two posting of Trekking the Journey we will focus on questions straight from KR’s fans and to provide some insight on how these two members of council feel about us Kwatsan Radio.

Be well family.

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