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Phoenix Suns join with Arizona tribal reps celebrating Native Heritage Day

Phoenix, Arizona (ICC) 12-08

The Phoenix Suns joined with the Arizona tribes, the Native American Basketball Invitational (NABI), and the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) in celebrating Native American Heritage Day 2008 during late November at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

NIGA Chairman Ernie Steven, Jr. joined Native American youth in observing a Phoenix Sun pre-game warm up and practice session at the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona

Ernie Stevens, Jr., Chairman of NIGA and honorary vice president of NABI, said “Native American Heritage Day is the start of something powerful:  Renewed pride for our children and grandchildren, respect and honor for our Native American culture and a real understanding between the American public and our Native American nations. Through this day of recognition we can dispel the years of misconceptions about our Native people. I am proud of the fact that Indian Country has continued to maintain our heritage, culture and our languages despite the historical struggles through tribal and cultural termination, loss of homelands, destruction of tribal economies and the deprivation of our people.”

Stevens continued, “Since 1911, American Indians have been seeking a day of recognition, and today we see the vision of our historic leaders reflected in the faces of our young people here today.”

Prior to the Suns basketball game against the Miami Heat, 250 Native American ticket holders were greeted by Stevens, Suns representatives, and NABI representatives where they were given Phoenix Suns paraphernalia commemorating the celebration of Native American Heritage day. They then had the opportunity to join in a private pre-game viewing of the Phoenix Suns practice and warm-up session before the doors opened to the general public.

After the pre-game practice session the group joined the crowd in the plaza outside the U.S. West Arena where the Bird Singers of the Salt River Indian Community, lead by Linda Gonzales, performed.

 

 

 

 

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