November was Native American Heritage Month, so it was especially appropriate that Gabriella Cázares-Kelly (Tohono O'odham), a 2005 College of Education alumna, won the November election for Pima County Recorder. She is the first Indigenous person to hold a county-wide elected office and a first for the Tohono O'odham Nation.
She's also a member of our Education Policy Center Advisory Board.
Cazares-Kelly noted on her Facebook page, “I’m very proud to break through this barrier, but I am also aware that it means there has been a lack of representation in our local government. The state of Arizona is derived from the O’odham words alĭ ṣonak. Pima County is named after O’odham people. And the heart of Pima County is Cuk Ṣon — now known as Tucson — another O’odham word. We are surrounded by place names that come from the Tohono O’odham language, and yet no Tohono O’odham people or any other Native Americans have been a part of our county’s government. We have never been in the rooms or at the tables where decisions that impact our lives are being made. My win is a bittersweet accomplishment and we still have a long way to go.”