Originally published Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 01:54p.m.

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Navajos, Hopis and other tribes were well represented June 1 during Native American Recognition Day (NARD) at Chase Field.

Dozens of tribal royalty were recognized during pregame ceremonies as they lined the right field foul line.

Miss Indian Arizona Niagara Rockbridge, a Navajo from Pinon, said the NARD event was inspirational.

“It’s important to recognize the land and sacrifices of Native American people,” she said.

Rockbridge said her platform as Miss Indian Arizona is that it’s important to speak your voice. She is especially concerned about the problems with violence impacting indigenous women. She said it’s important for indigenous women to speak up on the tribal, state and federal levels.


Miss Indian Arizona Niagara Brockridge with dad Gary. (Stan Bindell/NHO)

That is why Rockbridge plans on going into law and public policy and why she is majoring in political science at Scottsdale Community College, with plans to go to the University of Arizona.

“The sky’s the limit,” she said about her future.

Rockbridge also hopes to work for the Navajo Nation office in Washington D.C. where the tribe works with the federal government.

Miss Navajo Nation Pow Wow Princess Diinesha Francis, who hails from Fort Defiance, said NARD is important because it shows their culture. She praised the Diamondbacks for opening their doors to Native Americans.

Francis, who graduated from Ganado High School, works for the Navajo Nation in Window Rock in the Department of Family Services.

Cano Sanchez, from the Native American ban Clandestine, served as master of ceremony. His band is involved in suicide prevention, working with Aconav on fashion modeling, and branding of Warrior 52.

“It’s an honor to come out here to have Native American Recognition Day because it brings a lot of people together,” he said.

Sanchez praised the Gila River Indian Community and the Arizona Intertribal Council for supporting NARD along with the Diamondbacks opening the door for everybody.

The youth involved in the 21st annual intertribal youth baseball and softball tournament paraded around the field showing off their banners during the pregame ceremony. There were about 1,125 youth involved in the tournament representing 75 teams from five states and representing 23 tribes. The Diamondbacks recognized the top four teams in each division.

NARD included traditional song and dance groups, native drum, dancers, vocalists, artisans, education exhibits and models.

Native guitarist Gabriel Ayala performed the national anthem with the Haskell-Osife Antone American Legion Post 51 serving as the color guard behind Ayala. Miss Gila River Tyler Owens threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Owens said she was really nervous about throwing out the first pitch despite playing softball previously. She is majoring in business finance at Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

NARD was sponsored by the Gila River Hotel and Casino with the first 20,000 spectators receiving Diamondbacks caps. A portion of the tickets went toward Native American programs in Arizona.

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