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Respect for the Pima-Maricopa Indians

I am reluctant to talk about Indians in Arizona. I've been learning a lot lately, and when I try to share what I've learned, I am often interrupted by people who tell me that the words "Pima", "Maricopa", and "Indian" are no longer used. But I beg to differ. And it's all about respect for who these people are, what they've done, and what they continue to do for Phoenix.

If you understand the concept of a talking stick, you will allow me to hold it for a few paragraphs. If not, I'm afraid that there's nothing that I can do, as you will never hear me.

Yes, it's important to learn the modern names that these people now prefer, which is Akimel O'odham (the River People) for the Pimas and Piipaash for the Maricopa people. And you can use the term Native American instead of Indian if you prefer. But in doing so, it is my hope that you will not be losing their legacy.

The history of Indians in America is painful to learn about. The horror, and the bloodshed in Arizona was some of the worst. And no, I'm not suggesting dwelling on those things, which are wounds that are still all too recently healed. But if you are brave, I suggest that you do take a look. You will need to research tribes like the Pima, the Maricopa, the Yuma, and the Apache. And that will be a good beginning.

Respect for these people means doing more than a quick glance at a caption in a photo. It means finding out for yourself. Don't let me, or anyone else, try to give you easy answers. Go stand by the Gila River and look for the face of Montezuma in the Estrella Mountains. Find books that were written when Geronimo was still alive.

You will find that the Pima-Maricopa communities aren't nearby Phoenix, Phoenix is nearby them.

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