NEEDLES — Amid congratulations for their successes and thanks for the work they do, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe Chairman Timothy Williams, Councilor Nichole Garcia and Councilor Cellina Reyes swore their oaths of office over the weekend at council chambers in the California Village.
All three were reelected to four-year terms in ballots cast June 1. Voter turnout was reported to have topped 50%.
Vice-chair Shan Lewis observed the council is made up of very hard workers who work well together and whether they agree or disagree always come to a solution.
Councilor Johnny Hemmers offered his congratulations to the trio, saying it was an honor to serve with them and that he admired the hard work they do for the tribe.
Secretary Colleen Garcia, the longest-serving member, said the current council is a result of plans laid years ago.
“We had to grow our own leaders,” she said. “So we made that decision to send our children to college wherever they want to go.”
She observed there are two doctoral candidates among those reelected and pointed to the growth among the tribe’s leadership, saying, “We’ve come a long way since I was growing up. My heart is happy.”
Williams, first elected in 2007 right after service in the U.S. Marines, will chair the tribe for the next four years. Having completed undergraduate work at Northern Arizona University, he holds a master’s in legal studies in indigenous law from the University of Oklahoma and is pursuing his doctorate in organizational change and leadership from the University of Southern California.
Thanking all the members of the tribe, and his family for their current support and early preparation for his responsibilities, Williams talked about the importance of learning to listen and expressed pride in recent accomplishments including a wellness center, dialysis center and a school.
“One day, we’re going to pass it on to these young ones,” he said, “and we hope and we pray that we set an example that they’re going to be able to follow, of setting up the integrity, the character that you have to have in order to sit up here to ensure the longevity of our tribe and ensure that our members are going to be there with our culture, our traditions and especially — we keep saying it — our language.
“Some day in the future, in this meeting, when somebody’s sworn in, it would be something great to see the entire swearing-in ceremony happen in our own language.”
He concluded: “There’s a purpose. There’s a cause. There’s a belief and I believe there’s a hope right now within the Fort Mojave like we haven’t had in a very long time. So I look forward to these next four years and I hope to do my best as we continue on serving our tribe. It’s truly an honor. Thank you.”
Reyes was appointed to the council in 2017. Director of the Fort Mojave Vocational Rehabilitation Program, she completed undergraduate studies at Rocky Mountain College with a bachelor of science in psychology and a minor in Native American studies. She holds a master’s degree in human relations in education from NAU and is pursuing a doctorate in special education at Walden University. She thanked the voters for her first elected term and promised to work to the best of her abilities for the tribe.
Nichole Garcia was elected to her fourth term. She also serves as school administrator for the tribe’s high school, Pillar Academy of Business and Finance, Aha Macav School Campus. She began her career in tribal education in 1998.
She said: “Thank you to all the voters that came out: 1,021.
“You have set the standards that we as a tribe need to put our voice here at this level. You as the candidates had the wherewithal, the willingness to come and put your hat in the ring.”
Expressing appreciation for teamwork from council and community, she said, “God has a plan for the Fort Mojave.”
Gentry Medrano, director of the tribe’s public relations department, contributed to this report.