MOHAVE VALLEY — First they built a clinic. Next they built a hemodialysis center. Now the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe is attacking disease literally where it lives: taking steps to strengthen the human body to fend off complaints before they start.

The tribe dedicated its new, state-of-the-art wellness center with a New Year’s Eve celebration in the 48,598 square-foot facility at 10400 S. Dunes Rd. adjacent the Arizona Tribal Village in Mohave Valley. Featuring a multiple-court wood-floor gymnasium big enough to run two or more events simultaneously surrounded by a second-story mezzanine with an indoor running track, the wellness center: “… will mark the first step in the tribe’s long-range plan of providing innovative and comprehensive health and fitness services to the tribal community,” said Gentry Medrano, FMIT Public Relations Department Director, in her announcement of the grand opening. The center offers something for people of every age, from a playroom full of bounce-houses for the youngest to a lap pool, spa, classrooms and a teaching kitchen. A full workout gym offers dozens of complex training machines plus free weights and cross-fit stations. Nearly three dozen TV screens surround the workout area to keep motivation up.

“This is ours!” yelled FMIT Chairman Tim Williams, enthusiastically introducing the center and encouraging his people to make maximum use of it. “We didn’t depend on anybody else for this. We did this on our own. The Fort Mojave are able to take care of our own on our own,” he continued before cutting the ribbon for the center.

Williams took a moment to introduce Needles Vice Mayor Ed Paget, M.D. and praise the tribe’s relationship with the city. Paget, walking around inside, later agreed that such facilities hold a lot of promise in preventing disease.

The ceremonies included music by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe Band, traditional bird singing and dancing. FMIT Councilor Johnny Hemers, who participated in the singing, thanked everyone involved and urged them to enjoy the new center. Councilor Celina Reyes continued the theme of fighting disease with fitness and urged the tribe to come together as a family to utilize the facility. Tribal Secretary Colleen Garcia, remembering her own childhood with a tiny basketball court and a 4-H building, pointed out that what began as a dream of the tribal elders and council was now a reality and urged all to take advantage of it. Vice Chair Shan Lewis commented that it was something to work hard on and was just the beginning of projects being built; the culmination of years of planning that will, in the future, also produce a school, cultural center and more.

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Congratulations FMIT!

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