Native American Women Become Bargaining Tool in VAWA Congress Negotiations

Santa-Fe-Indian-School-for-VAWARob Capriccioso
(Indian Country Today Media Network)
December 07, 2012

 Tribal protections for Native women and families are one of the main issues being used as a bargaining tool by lawmakers in a last-ditch effort to get the Violence Against Women Act passed in the lame-duck session of Congress.

A Huffington Post report surfaced on the evening of December 6, suggesting that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was stalling a possible conference agreement between the Senate and House due solely to the Native American protections offered in the Senate bill.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., confirmed that notion on the Senate floor, saying that Republican leaders were blocking an agreement due to their disagreement with Native protections, which in the passed Senate bill include provisions that would give tribal courts jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes on reservations.

The passed House version does not include those tribal court provisions, instead allowing for a battered Native woman – or a tribe on her behalf – to file in U.S. District Court for a protection order against her alleged abuser, whether Indian or not, who committed the abuse on Indian land.

But Cantor’s office pushed back, with Cantor spokesman Doug Heye telling Indian Country Today Media Network, “There are many problems with the Huffington Post report.” Heye would not say specifically where Cantor stood on the Native protections, but he did note that the headline of the Huffington Post article had changed four times, each time softening Cantor’s position against the Native provisions.

Cantor’s office also confirmed that Vice President Joe Biden’s staff had been negotiating with Cantor’s staff to try to come to a deal on VAWA. “Our staffs continue to work towards a compromise on those multiple provisions outstanding in the hopes of finding a solution to pass the bill as quickly as possible,” Heye said.

White House spokesman Shin Inouye said on the evening of December 6 that the Obama administration still supported the Senate version of the bill. Whether Biden is willing to negotiate on that position has not been confirmed by his office, but Indian officials in Washington, including the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), are closely monitoring the situation.

NCAI officials had been discussing having a press conference on the evening of December 6 when it became clear that a Biden-Cantor compromise was in the works. But as the evening wore on, a vote did not happen, and plans for a press conference were put on hold.

All the while, U.S. Rep Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, has been working with his Republican colleagues to try to get the Senate pro-tribal version of the bill through Congress.

Cole, a Chickasaw citizen, told ICTMN in a recent interview that he supports the Senate version of the bill, and he has been working hard to educate his colleagues on the Native provisions.

“I have had an opportunity to talk to some people who say this would be unconstitutional,” Cole said. “It’s not unconstitutional! It’s clearly within Congress’ purview to give tribes the ability to have effective police power and protection of their own territory.

“There are 535 members of Congress, and 534 of them could go on the Sioux Reservation, commit a crime, and not be subjected to local jurisdiction,” Cole added. “If I did it, though, I would be, because I’m an Indian. We trust tribes to have jurisdiction over Native Americans. As long as you give people the right to appeal, they ought to be subject to tribal jurisdiction.… Most American communities have local jurisdiction; Native Americans do not. It’s not right. I will vote with the Democrats on this if an amendment or recommit is offered. I hope we can get it done this year.”

Please call the Congressional members below and ask that they accept the Issa HR 6625 compromise on tribal jurisdiction as a path forward to get VAWA done for all victims!
1. Eric Cantor (202) 225-2815
2. Kathy McMorris Rodgers (202) 225-2006
3. Dave Reichert (202) 225-7761
4. Speaker Boehner (202) 225-6205
5. Mike Crapo, (202) 224-6142
Please call right now! We need our voices to flood DC!



Why fight to save Ocotillo? Isn’t Renewable Energy Good?

Yes renewable energy is wonderful and can be wonderful for the environment IF used correctly. As for the Ococtillo Wind Energy site, well lets just say its not so wonderful. In fact its detrimental to our Quechan (Kwatsan) History! In America our American history is wriiten in books, painted and carved throughout the land, and lets not forget in song too. We grew up reading about our Nations four fathers and seeing their faces carved into Mt. Rushmore. We were taught, “This land is your land, this land is my land….” we sang about the purple mountains majesty……And to crown thy good with brotherhood.

But what’s not being told is that WE as first peoples have a grand history as well. A history that is too carved throughout the land and taught through song! The Ocotillo Desert is apart of our history, its apart of our make-up as part of the Hokan language family. Our ancestors are out there and we need to protect them! Would you put a windmill dead center on the Arlington National Cemetery? Then why should we allow the Government to do so with us! Please read and view the selected links we have for you to research more about the Ocotillo Wind Project and our fight.

Ocotillo coverage:

Quechan take stand:
An open letter to President Obama: 116134 
Opposition Grows:
Singing for the land:

President Keeny Escalanti Sr. speaking out against the Ocotillo Wind Project:

Lighting songs:

Kwatsan Radio’s Dan Golding speaking out against the Ocotillo Wind Project:

Saying Goodbye

Yuma firefighter killed in Tucson identified

The Yuma firefighter who died near Sells, Ariz., Friday morning has been identified as 31-year-old Anthony Polk.

Polk was a fire operations and fuels technician for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Fort Yuma Agency. He was a wildland fire engine boss during his final assignment.

He died when his wildland fire engine rolled over in rough terrain at 8 a.m. Friday as he and his crew were traveling along Federal Route 19 to battle the Montezuma Fire, located 20 miles southeast of Sells, Ariz. The Montezuma Fire is on the Baboquivari Mountain Range in the Tohono O’odham Nation west of Tucson.

Two other firefighters, including 29-year-old Andy Rosales of Yuma, sustained minor injuries during the incident.

In honor of Polk, Gov. Jan Brewer ordered all state flags flown at half-staff until sunset June 16. Polk’s body was returned to Yuma on Saturday.

Other firefighters in the area responded and provided medical assistance, as did the Tohono O’odham Police Department. The injured firefighters were taken by ambulance to the Sells Hospital.

Both Rosales and the second injured man, 25-year-old John Villicana, were treated and released.

An ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Tohono O’odham Police Department.

“On behalf of the firefighters and support personnel at the Montezuma Fire, we all extend our deepest condolences to Anthony’s family, friends and his home unit, Fort Yuma Agency,” said Jonetta Trued, the public information officer assigned to the Montezuma Fire.

Polk once called on the public to remember a fellow firefighter who died during a midair collision near Flagstaff in June 2008.

“The thoughts and prayers of my loved ones and I go out to the family, friends, and crewmembers of Michael MacDonald,” Polk said at the time. “Stand strong and keep his memory alive. He will always be with you in spirit.”

“We mourn the loss of the first wildland firefighter killed in Arizona this season,” Brewer said Saturday.

“In Arizona, spring and summer mean wildfire. We count on the brave men and women who come to our state from all over the country in order to fight these fires. These are men and women who endure the long hours, difficult conditions and — of course — the danger. Best of all, they do it in order to protect the lives and property of people they have never met and likely never will.”

Chris McDaniel can be reached at or 539-6849.

Read more:

Video World Premiere of “Almost Lover” from Recording Artist Heart Hays!!

Singing sensation, Heart Hays, opens her heart in a deeply personal song, “Almost Lover,” in her first music video, debuting here today. Heart’s versatility, her passion for her craft, and her unique voice combine to create a haunting video experience. Heart’s intensity, reflected in her native roots, mark this as an inimitable performance, a gift from a loving heart. By dedicating this video to her dear friend, Scotty Dugan, Heart is determined to mark his place in the world in the way he would most have appreciated and loved. This is also a thank you to her fans, who will see this as only one small aspect of her talent, and an introduction to future fans, who will be surprised by her range of styles and abilities. Sing on, Heart!

Here’s our interview with Heart Hays, enjoy!

Click for Interview –  Heart Hays

Click for World Premier Video –

Trekking the Journey Part Two: Kwatsan Radio’s Interview with Vice President Aguerro and Councilman Smith

Warm Holiday Greetings Kwatsan Radio Fans!! Allow me to start off this part two article with a huge I’M SORRY FOR THE DELAY 😀

As I explained on our Facebook Fan site, I guess that’s the beauty of Kwatsan Radio. We are strictly volunteered based. We provide as much content as we can to you our faithful Kwatsan Radio fans because we have a passion to do so. But like most of you we get caught up in our daily Kwatsan life’s especially during the holidays with work, holiday school recitals, and community events. Needless to say I have pushed through all my commitments and have finally wrapped this interview up…..enjoy!!

Kwatsan Radio: We have never heard our Tribal government support or endorse anyone politically when it comes to US politics. Now we have heard other tribes, they do it every election term; they have a stance whether it is democrat, republican or indifferent. Where do you guys stand on helping to either motivate the tribal membership or the council in general to say we back President Obama or don’t back President Obama? We know Tribes have already endorsed him and will continue to endorse him but I have never heard our Tribe ever do such a thing. What are your thoughts?

Vice President Aguerro: I was telling Virgil that in the Daily Sun that Amanda Aguirre is going to be in the hunt for Congressman Grijalva’s seat and so Virgil and I were talking informally, of course, and he goes should we come out publicly and say we support Amanda?

Councilman Smith: I believe we had a tribal member tell us that one of our tribal member’s was going to do an internship with Grijalva, so you know everybody was like “cool, wow” and we would have a tribal member interning with him and so its kind of the same thing. I think I did ask that, having these tribal leadership meetings that he was the only President (Obama) that has incorporated it and because of him it’s still going. If he goes away, does that mean it stops? And the next person doesn’t even care to have us Tribal leaders come over to Washington and have that communication. So with that part, that’s a big positive for him that he has made the effort to recognize the tribes. We can’t speak for the whole council but for myself I support him. It is a big plus for me, for him.

Vice President Aguerro: And I think it is something that we need to start developing that report and again that is all about building relationships. Actually in our case, rebuilding relationships. So you know we are trying to move in that direction. So we just need to continue, we are slowly putting our foot back into California and we are doing that with Councilwoman Miller who is going to be representing our interests in California right now which is education because she is the education liaison. Just this Tuesday, or Wednesday, she travelled to the Morongo Tribe where they were talking about developing within the state of California their own college, their own Indian college. The steps to take that and what can be done, and how can they fund this and what is possible. So she seemed really enthused about it and there was a secondary meeting sometime next week I believe on the 14 in that was in San Francisco, it’s all about rebuilding bridges. We know, we have been told bluntly that prior administrations have just burned us. Burned off every relationship we have had. Yeah and so when we talked to ITCA that first time to John Lewis and when he asked us that question, we are just starting from scratch. Quechan is rebuilding from the ground up on every avenue, I said we’re subterranean. You know we are clawing our way through here and hopefully within time we will be at ground level and hopefully we can build from there.

Kwatsan Radio: In the six months that you have been in office, what changes have been implemented that have been beneficial to the tribe and what key problem needs to be fixed and addressed other than the casinos?

Vice President Aguerro: The one thing I think that we have seen our shift and we have been vocal about it, our need to have open communication. To not be afraid of those questions that are being asked to us and I know that in the past as a tribal member attending the meetings the response that you always got to a question was “we will look into it” and “we will get back to you” and nobody ever got back to you. So you went to the next meeting, and you asked your question and then you went to the next meeting and you asked your question without ever getting an answer. I’m going to say that the change that we have seen is when we say we are going to get back to you; we are going to do our best to get back to you.

Besides changes that have been implemented in the last 6 months within this council, one thing that VP Aguerro hopes for the future is to renew a policy on Social Service.
Vice President Aguerro: We need to make it not as easy for an individual to come in and tap into tribal Social Services. Month, after month, after month. Normally my answer to them is what are you going to do about next month or the month after that? You’re coming to me today asking about assistance with rent, electrical services, food, clothing, hygiene products. What’s going to happen next month? We need to create a rule, a policy that is equal to every tribal member. Because we have tribal members who are here every month and we have tribal members who never come for help. Never, they simply do without. They find another way but we have some tribal members who have been, for lack of a better word, “trained” to come up here and expect to be helped. When we move into 2012, we will readdress that policy again and we are going to make it more cohesive so that when we have tribal members who are in Boston and are struggling and need our help, they should be able to come to us and get our help. Just like everyone else on the reservation does, just because they are living off reservation does not make them any less special and it doesn’t make them any less of a tribal member.

Kwatsan Radio: How do you as a council “retrain” or “provide” financial literacy?

Councilman Smith: In instances where they have come to council, I think one of our directions that kind of fell through the wayside was that ok we’re going to help them, give them that assistance but they need to go to a budgeting class. Learn how to budget, learn how to do this stuff. Learn how to budget and not just for the month, for the whole year. For some of them that have big families, how do you maintain yourself? How do you maintain that you’re able to make it to the next month, and the next month after that? There’s budgeting classes, using the programs that are available and parenting classes, whatever there is available out there for them. We can use them to implements those programs to help them to kind of give them some education. To give them that piece of mind that the world is not going to end. They will be able to move on; they need to make some concessions here and there.

Councilman Smith then put his perspective on the need of the people and their regard to social service.

Councilman Smith: The situation that we are in, I was kind of looking for a silver lining in the whole thing and to me maybe these things happen for a reason. That all of us, in our own way became so greedy and its all about me, me, me and what I get that we forgot who we are as a people and when this happened to us and it’s going to be back to basics for a lot of us. We are going to look at one day; we are going to have to remember when we didn’t have what we have. When the casinos weren’t here and we were a poor nation. We’re kind of coming back to that full circle and its going to take the memberships to take care of each other. And in a way, maybe that’s what we needed. Maybe that is why this happened to us. Looking at it in a bigger picture, a bigger scale, maybe we need to go back to the basics and remember who we are as a people. So that way when we do get on our feet again and times are good, we will remember these times. Remember that it can go away just like that.

Vice President Aguerro: When we were successful and had money in the bank and there was just money here and money there. We were spending without thought. There was no plan for the future, there was nothing. We were just living in that moment and now we are suffering from that hangover. We are going to struggle through this affect. Answering, how can we help you? What can we do for you? And how can you help us? You know there has to be some return here. I would hope for that return cause it’s been too much of we have it, let’s spend it. And I think that we are looking at a different council and we are looking at a different way of thinking. We are actually trying to shift into that position and let’s start planning for the 5, the 10, the 15, the 20 years from now because you know we are here today and gone tomorrow. And we have to leave something behind, something positive. So when the next council comes in its not that empty warehouse with papers just kind of floating around, we will have begun that foundation and the rebuilding of that foundation and the next group will come in and keep building on that foundation until we are successful.

Kwatsan Radio: When you guys did transition and you came on council, was there any type of learning or communication with the exiting council?

ALL: NO, NO… VP Aguerro and Councilman Smith: NO!

Councilman Smith: Councilman Felix Montaque did ask, “can we call them in and have them give us a where they left off kind of thing and what was pending?” and I think President Escalanti said that was never really done before and I don’t think it would happen. We just kind of all said well ok. We didn’t push the issue, we didn’t ask why; we all in our own minds had a general idea why.

Kwatsan Radio: Did it feel like you were starting at an abandoned building that was built on a cliff?

Vice President Aguerro: Like the roof was crumbling, waves were hitting it and it was ruining the foundation? Yes, in a quick response to that we had a former council member say to us that we should have known the issues, we should have attended all of these meetings, we should have been aware, we should have known what we were getting into. And that upset me. I was mad and I do my best to contain myself, and they are the tribal membership and they are entitled to say what they need to say and how they want to say it regardless if it is hurtful or if it is not the other shoe dropping or whatever cliché you want to throw in there. But it really pissed me off. And it was like, no, I don’t think we could have known what was going on as a membership because that control was so tight that nothing flowed and we were being told this by different groups that came to see us that all information flowed through one person and that one person was the former president.

Councilman Smith: And it was not to go through anyone else. And we were getting emails saying for instance, from our new historic preservation officer, was working with BLM and trying to get information and he forwarded us an email from BLM saying ok we can give you information but prior council goes through one person and one person only. So your new council has to write a letter stating we can release the information to you. And that wasn’t just the first case. Also with our bonds for the casino we faced the same situation. They asked, how is this going to work now, we only dealt with one person? Our answer was “no, you’re going to release it to all council and to the CEO that was President Escalanti’s directive to them.” And the bond holders said, “thank you we are so relieved to hear that. It is very hard to deal with one person and just one person only and we don’t know if the information is getting to where it needs to get to.”

VP Aguerro then made mention to our tribal debt which is still coming to light even six months into her term.
Vice President Aguerro: Right now Rich Williamson is our acting comptroller as Mr. Espino resigned and he’s looking at our tribal budget and he’s just shaking his head because he is seeing all the areas already as he flips through the budget where we can start cutting costs and start reducing our tribal budget and still meet the needs of the community membership but start reducing those costs because any savings that we have goes to our debt. And I think a lot of the tribal membership has been told that this money is ours. It should be given to us in the form of per capita, but I don’t think the membership was fully aware of the magnitude of the debt that we carry and I think that slowly and surely as we reinforce that message to them that the debt is for real. We can’t pretend it doesn’t exist and that we cannot pay it. Monumental things will happen if we take that head in the sand perspective and say it’s not there, it’s not the monkey on our back. We need to continue to speak to the membership and let them know that it is there. We can’t run away from it.

Kwatsan Radio: Had the change in council not occurred would the prior administration have been able to maintain the path that they created?

Vice President Aguerro: No, I honestly and wholeheartedly believe it would have caught up to them eventually. If not in six months, a year, there’s no way the way the tribe was spending money and distributing it in the forms of per capita and assistance, there’s no way they would have made it. I firmly and truly believe that now that we have sat down and looked at the picture with Sovereign Finance and Matt Eden, looking at everything that has been done with Brian Parish and Rich Williamson from the Q having the input from Keeny Jr. and Charles from Paradise and then looking overall about what we are doing here, tribal budget, I mean… everything you had, you had a house of cards. And you had somebody who was doing this shell game with our money and told us, “Don’t worry, it’s all in my head, I know what I’m doing, I know what I’m doing,” And so if the new council had not been sworn into their office, I firmly and honestly believe 6 months to a year we would have defaulted… I don’t know if the whole council has that opinion and I told the tribal audience constantly and tell your listeners that too, I am one person on this council and I don’t speak for the entire council.

Kwatsan Radio: How is this council trying to save money to pay off these future balloon payments that we owe toward our casino?

Councilman Smith: Put money aside and restrict it, and restructure our accounts just so that it is a piece of mind for us. He (Comptroller Espino) kind of was wish washed around it so when we did talk to Sovereign Finance and they did come down and we did have them in the side chamber. We did talk to President Escalanti about this and we told him we want to get a second opinion about this, we are going to go ahead and ask him and he said “yeah go for it, see what you guys get” and we did. And they (Sovereign Finance) looked at each other and they smiled at each other and they said “that would probably be the best thing that you guys could ever do. It could even change some of the outlook of what would happen because it shows to them (bond holders) that you are serious and that you are well aware of your debt.”

Vice President Aguerro: And when we talk about restricted accounts we aren’t talking about just an ordinary account, it would be a high yield savings account to where we hope to put in at least $7.5 million and every quarter, every six months, every year, where the interest builds. And we did get the second almost third opinion and it was this will help you so much, because again the bond holders to this council saying they want to be responsible, they are aware of their obligations and they are taking the steps necessary to insure they do not default cause that was something we kept hearing from Fitch “our worry is that you are going to default.”

Currently our Tribe is at “Stable” in regards to the Fitch Rating.

Kwatsan Radio: What are your thoughts on the Kwatsan Youth and the rise of drug use within the Youth of Indian Country?

Councilman Smith: Unfortunately we have been caught up with these financial issues we haven’t been able to address the Youth more. I know Darnella has a major interest in the youth and we hope to do more for them in 2012. Like mentoring programs or workshops ran by us. For myself I am out of touch with the youth but committed in wanting to do more.

Vice President Aguerro: We do have a problem. We do have drug trafficking coming through our borders and being used and sold right here on our reservation and we as a Tribal Government must ask ourselves what can we do to stop this. We can’t just say we have ADAPP and move one. We need to find ways to meet the need of the youth. We need to solve our community struggle and every family is affected by it. For instance we need to stop the growing Meth use we have within our community…It has to start with the family…then the schools. There are no easy solutions, it’s very difficult.

Councilman Smith: Parks and Rec needs to get more involved and not just with sports but find others interest within the entire community. Also Park and Rec has a committee and if there aren’t doing anything they need to start or find new members to help reactivate that committee. Don’t get me wrong they are doing a lot but more is needed.

Vice President Aguerro: We need to be more proactive with Parks and Rec and to let them know we do support them and find ways to improve it.

Kwatsan Radio: Where does this council sit when it comes to Culture? Not just Preservation but Practice?

Councilman Smith: Being the cultural liaison I sit on the Cultural Committee and I attend Mr. John Norton’s group as well. From the Cultural Committee stand point I feel confident in working with that group on the upcoming issue when it comes to projects within our ancestral lands. And for Mr. Norton’s group they discuss what they feel we are losing and want to help bring back like Respect, the Singing, Language, and the Language was a big thing for me and Dan Golding who was present as well. We both feel like a lost generation because we are old enough where we should know the language but we don’t. We understand something’s but don’t speak it…what might turn off a lot of youth and young adults from learning the language is having older people telling them that what they are learning is wrong. And if we can’t get the elders to agree than what chance do we have? But we need to and it’s very important. And I am thankful to see there are still people trying to caring on traditions like our songs and beliefs but we need more.

Vice President Aguerro: We all have the potential to learn but I don’t know why we don’t. We all can say we don’t have time, or I have children that take up all our time…but our children are learning. Slowly, but they are learning. But we all have the potential to find one family member who can help teach us. We have to learn it’s our responsibility because when the time comes for us to have to know our culture (Like in the funerals) our parents or older relatives who know might not be there.

Kwatsan Radio: Last question, if you had to give Kwatsan Radio a grade what would it be?

Vice President Aguerro: I don’t know about that DJ BGS guy?? He seems pretty radical (said with laughter)… No really, the only time I have ever been disappointed with Kwatsan Radio was when a question was asked that felt it just stirred the pot when the pot didn’t need it. I was like “why did they ask this question? This wasn’t needed” but on the other side we want to see those questions. We want to see the reactions.

Councilman Smith: Seeing those questions and answers helps gain perspective. I do think you do a good service to our membership by informing them. I know we have our newsletter but Kwatsan Radio is made by natives for natives and I think they trust you more. You guys ask questions that we feel the people want to ask. So for me I would give you a B+ and I know I read your posts and love seeing the reactions from the membership.

Vice President Aguerro: My grade is an A, I am happy with Kwatsan Radio. Because I remember when you guys put on that festival for hope and even when the powers that be didn’t want it you did it. And it was fun to see one cohesive group putting an event that stuck its thumb to the established government and said we don’t care what you think and you did it and it was great. Then it continued and progressed and became more but it was something that was done together not just one person did it a group did it and its still there. For instance we have heard the negative words when it came to Pipa a’Koots but I feel Kwatsan Radio helped possibly change that perception by showing who they really are. A group who wanted to share their views on our culture. You helped show that they weren’t one family against another it was one Quechan group who wanted to help educate out tribal culture. Because at the end of the day We Are All Quechan and you can’t take that away. Kwatsan Radio has help show that by saying no matter who you are and what you do You Will Always Be Quechan…so I am happy for that.

Councilman Smith: I felt it was history in the making when you guys asked to stream the inaugurations and that was the first time through technology we as Nation were able to that. That was one of the coolest moments for me that I got to be a part of that history! And allowing that to happen has a council I feel that was our way of saying we support Kwatsan Radio.

Vice President Aguerro: I like that you stand by what you post. And you don’t hide and you mean what you say…there’s no foolery, no slant in either direction it is what it is and I like it.

So with all that being said we Thank Vice President Aguerro and Councilman Smith for their time and their words. Usually this would be the time for us to give are parting thoughts on the interview but we feel the words speak for themselves and we hope we can continue to provide our fans more content like this in the future and to continue the conversation here on our website or on our fan page on Facebook because Together We Connect!! – Nyuunthxa!!

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.”


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.

Young Cayuga Native reflects on Quechan’s Anya NItz Pak & Elder Village Construction

Photo taken by: Stephen Veneski

My name is Connor Veneski and i am a member of the Cayuga Nation of New York. I have helped construct the Elders Village since the beginning more than 2 years ago.

Photo by Randy Hoeft/Yuma Sun

I wanted to be apart of this because i live so far away from my own tribe in New York and i rarely get to participate in my own community. At first i felt out of place but i got more comfortable knowing i wasnt the only person that was’nt quechan and the welcoming attitude of the others made it more comfortable as well. I also saw an opportunity to learn alot about the way of life of the people before and experience a small amount of what they went through.

Connor Veneski assisting in the construction of Tribal Mud Home

During construction it felt good, like i was doing a small part to restore a little history that is fading in the world, and after it was finished i felt proud to say i had a part in the project. The project helped my problem solving skills, my tolerance for weather, and showed me that with hard work and determination you could accomplish something as great as the Elders Village

Anya Nitz Pak Elders Village

 News Snippet: Quechan Nation celebrates grand opening of Yuma’s latest parkBy: Richard Romero/Yuma Sun – The Quechan Nation unveiled its latest gem Wednesday with Sunrise Point Park, Anya-Nitz-Pak, a nature park that has been in the making since 2006.The grand opening was celebrated Wednesday morning at the park, located at 1011 Levee Road, just south of Paradise Casino.Processions of tribal royalty, traditional singers and an array of speakers helped to make the event just as colorful as the park it represented.

Allyson Collins, Economic Development Administration specialist for the Quechan Indian Tribe, said the park was funded by an Arizona State Parks grant with a match from the Yuma Parks and National Heritage Area via Bureau of Reclamation funding.

Collins said the project, which cost nearly $1.2 million, boasts a lake for swimming, fishing, two ramadas, a plaza area, an amphitheater, and an area along the river known as the Elder Village.

Collins said she is ecstatic about the opening of the park and the opportunity to share the beauty that so many community members strived to create.

“It’s the crown jewel of the Yuma East Wetlands is what it is. To finally put that final piece on the Yuma East Wetlands is just remarkable,” Collins said.
Collins emphasized that getting people out into nature was a main goal in constructing the park.

“We hope that the community will be able to enjoy nature, will be able to enjoy Yuma’s beauty,” Collins said.

“We’re in a highly technological culture. And to be able to bring people out of that and with nature once again is what we hope to do.” Brian Golding Sr., the director of economic development with the Quechan Nation, said the park was worth the efforts to build it.

“This park represents a combination of about four years worth of work to transform what was essentially a wasteland into the beautiful space that you see before us,” Golding said at the event.


By: Lycia D. Ortega of Kwatsan Radio

I do not pretend to be an expert on health but I have spent the past several years listening to my body and becoming in tune with how outside elements affect the way my body functions. Everything we consume from personal care products to food and beverages dictate the performance of your body. Native Americans were once the purest beings (people) on this earth. We ate only natural products of our earth and were virtually free of diseases and other health issues.

Quechan people made their home by the Colorado River and used the fresh water to produce vegetation, consume fresh fish and small game. Our ancestors did not have preservatives or other chemically altered products in what they consumed. If you are able to, study photos of our ancestors, pay attention to their unbelievable physiques! It is amazing what physical activity and pure, wholesome food does for our bodies.

Now fast forward to 2011. Do you or your loved ones suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, hypertension, obesity, alcoholism, drug addiction? Sadly, the list goes on. We punish our bodies with poor choices of food and beverages, as well as other products containing substances our bodies are not meant to digest. It is easy to continue the unhealthy lifestyles we live but it is also easy to make small changes in our daily choices.

When I was 16, I read an article in one of my teeny bopper magazines about how fatty meats can take days to digest. Heavy, fatty meats make our body become fatigued and less efficient in metabolizing our food. The article also discussed the health effects of cholesterol, saturated fats, and preservatives. The longer the toxic fats and chemicals stay in our body, the more damaging the effects can be to our system. At that point, I decided to give up pork. Just pork. I began to study portion control and slowly but surely incorporated small spurts of physical activity into my daily routine. In college, I met a few vegetarian classmates. They convinced me to give vegetarianism a try and I did. I did not realize how much energy heavy, fatty foods weigh your body down until I no longer had that problem.

Living vegetarian does not mean you have to eat lettuce 3 times a day. You would be surprised at all of the delicious recipes available! For instance, when making your favorite folded tacos, substitute ground beef with vegetable protein, soy meat, or beans. You get the same flavor and protein without all of the fat content and calories. Another option is to get all of your favorite vegetables, (squash, corn, celery, etc.) and make a great stew. Ask your grandparents or an elder what their recipe is and fill your pot with all of the fresh ingredients. However, if you are not quite ready to give up all of your meat, try switching to leaner meats such as turkey or even fish.

It does not take much to change your lifestyle except the will to live healthier. Think of what ails you and also think about who your ailment affects. What would that person do without you? Make small changes for yourself and become a role model of health for your loved ones. Baby steps people, baby steps.

Together We Progress!

Living with Type 2 Diabetes Ep. 2

Here is another Video Journal from Rayna Madero on her second week of living with Type 2 Diabetes.

Also in my efforts (K RocK) in taking the first steps into living and eating better, I have been working out at our local Wellness Center on the Ft. Yuma Quechan Reservation and starting next week I’ll be working out with our future Warriors of San Pasqual. Tomorrow I will write about our four day workout that was provided by the great crew at the Wellness Center!!

REPEAT AFTER ME: Kwatsan Words/Phrases

Kumathum! (Hello) In this posting you will be able to listen to our Words/Phrases provided by you our listener. Enjoy and try to use these words in your everyday life with your family and loved ones!!

Nyuunxa! (See you later) – Kwatsan Radio Family

Ka’theek – Come here

Ka’nuk – Sit down

Xya Tu’uup – Swimming

Na’ay-Father (female)

Kavook-Stand up


Nyuunxa – See you later

Counting 1-5 with Keely

Matheek Axwett, Red Beans

Xatalwe, Coyote by Thrill House

Avil E’emoom, I’m going to the hill

Axot Moovak, I’m well, how are you?

Kwenamii, Warrior by: SPC David Salinas US Army (Kwatsan)