PHOENIX- Indigenous Peoples Day marks an important day of celebration and remembrance of the histories, cultures and resiliency of the people who comprise the 573 tribal nations who live today within the United States. This comes during a pivotal year with President Joe Biden becoming the first president to issue a proclamation to mark Indigenous Peoples Day. This historic milestone is a culmination of the efforts of many indigenous leaders, including Senator and member of the Navajo Nation, Jamescita Peshlakai, who launched an effort to abolish Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous People’s Day. Senator Peshlakai has also partnered with the nonprofit Indigenous Peoples' Initiative (IPI) as well as Congresswoman Norma Torres of California to sponsor the bill on the federal level. The members of the Indigenous Peoples Caucus at the Arizona State Legislature released the following statements on the celebration.

Senator Jamescita Peshlakai (D-Cameron) “Indigenous Peoples Day is about taking back our narrative. Acknowledging our existence and truth. We are here to stay forever, upon our sacred homelands. Thank you President Biden for a first ever Proclamation. Also, to Arizona’s Indigenous People’s Initiative for their local, state and national work to create a federal Indigenous People’s Day”.

Representative Jennifer Jermaine (D-Chandler) "My family is spending Indigenous Peoples Day celebrating our Ojibwe culture and learning about other indigenous cultures here in Arizona. We are honoring the original inhabitants of this land and remembering the resilience of our ancestors."

Senator Victoria Steele (D-Tucson) “It’s been a long time coming. For centuries, U.S. policies have deliberately attempted to kill-off or assimilate and displace Indigenous peoples. We are grateful to President Biden, the first sitting president to issue a presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples Day. As Americans we have an obligation to know the full history of our country. Particularly here in Arizona where everywhere we walk, we are treading on Indigenous lands. There are some 6.8 million Indigenous People in this country who are very much alive and to finally celebrate our culture and the enormous contributions of Native People to this country is a recognition that is long overdue. I am so glad that this finally happened in my lifetime.”

Representative Jasmine Blackwater-Nygren (D-Red Mesa) “Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day! Today, we recognize and correct the misguided narrative that Christopher Columbus 'discovered' America, which forgets that Indigenous people have been here since time immemorial and contributes to the erasure of Native people in today’s society. Today, we honor and celebrate our Native heritage, culture, and history. Along with this celebration, we must also recognize the many issues Native communities continue to face including the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, and the recent discovery of thousands of children’s bodies found at Indian boarding schools across this country and Canada. Ahé’héé.”

Senator Sally Ann Gonzales (D-Tucson) “The story of Indigenous peoples’ in North America, past and present, is often forgotten, invisible or ignored. Indigenous Peoples have, and continue to make, important contributions that have shaped and continue to shape this country. Columbus Day does not bring communities together, it celebrates the attempted genocide, destruction, and erasure of Indigenous communities. It is for this reason I support celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day.”

Representative Myron Tsosie (D-Chinle)

"Indigenous Peoples Day is critically important moment to celebrate and honor the history and accomplishments of Native People here in Arizona and across the United States. Seeing a Presidential proclamation to mark this day is long overdue, but a welcome moment in our continued fight to ensure our Indigenous communities have a voice and are heard."

PHOENIX- Today after a years-long effort, Senator Victoria Steele’s bill (SB1007) protecting victims of rape by terminating their rapists' parental rights passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and now heads to Governor Ducey to sign into law. Current Arizona state law allows rapists to get joint custody, tying the victim to their rapist for life.

“Women shouldn’t be forced by law to share parental rights with rapists. Words cannot express how elated and grateful I am to my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the House for passing my bill and finally sending it to the Governor, said Senator Victoria Steele. “No one should be tethered to their rapist and abuser for life by being forced to share parental rights. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I know firsthand the trauma and pain victims of rape experience. While we cannot change what happened in the past, we can change what happens in the future and lessen the pain by not allowing a rapist parental rights. This was the correct and good thing to do.”

Arizona Senate Democrat’s released the following statement on the Republican budget passed in the Senate.

“Last night under the cover of darkness, the Republican majority forced their flat tax budget through the State Senate on party lines, with no effort to find bipartisan solutions with Senate Democrats. This budget was neither fair nor transparent. Instead, it was crafted behind closed doors, ignoring the input of real Arizonans and ignoring the input of Democratic Senators. We could have had a transformational budget to rebuild and revitalize Arizona with a $2 billion surplus that could go toward paying down our debt, investing in our public schools, providing teachers much needed raises, updating and repairing our state's infrastructure and more. Instead, Republicans prioritized welfare for the wealthy, forcing Arizonans to subsidize the lifestyles of the rich with this radical tax cut plan. Further, Republicans snuck in a pandora's box of partisan bills, completely unrelated to the budget, that included a host of election conspiracy theories, attacks on teachers, the largest ESA expansion in the history of the state, banning mask and vaccine mandates at schools and more.

Arizona doesn't need more tax cuts that will only help the wealthiest Arizonans. Many low- and middle-income Arizonans have faced extraordinary challenges after the last year. Rather than helping them, this budget will give them about a $15 tax cut while giving millionaires a minimum of a $46,000 tax cut and tens of thousands of dollars more for the mega wealthy.

We had a real opportunity to help Arizona's working families restore, recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. A true Arizona budget would raise teacher pay, make higher education more affordable, extend healthcare to uninsured children, address affordable housing shortages, reform an antiquated unemployment insurance system, invest in critical infrastructure and protect the most vulnerable Arizonans. But rather than sit down and develop a budget that represents the entire state, our colleagues are far more interested in giving out welfare for the wealthy. We’re forcing hard working Arizonans to pay for the lifestyles of the richest after a year where they lost their jobs, lost their homes and lost loved ones to COVID. It's beyond cruel. It's outright malevolent. Arizonans deserve better.”