Members of the Tonto Apache Tribal Youth Council were present to witness Gov. Janet Napolitano appoint Jack Jackson Jr. as the new Arizona State Commission Director for Indian Affairs on Dec. 29 at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix.
Youth council members, Daniel Waterman, Justin Johnson, Miguel Lopez; Russ Koch, Youth Center Director for the Tonto Apache Tribe; and District Two Sen. Albert Hale were present for the ceremony.
"Rep. Jackson's experience on Native American issues and tireless dedication to Arizona will serve the commission well," Napolitano said. "I'm proud to have Rep. Jackson continue his public service in my administration."
Jackson assumed office Jan. 10. He is a Navajo and a former state legislator from Window Rock. Last year, he sponsored a bill that would have returned at least one-quarter of the transaction taxes from the reservation.
"I want to work on this issue with Sen. Albert Hale and other senators who have tribes in their districts," Jackson said.
"I am very honored and proud to be here to represent my people today before the Governor," said Daniel Waterman, 15, president of the Youth Council and a freshman at Payson High School.
"I also was honored to meet Sen. Hale for the first time. He is a Native American Indian and serves as a role model to youth such as myself. I am trying to finish high school and have goals for a higher education. I'm glad that Sen. Hale was able to talk with us and encourage us to continue with our goals in our lives."
"The Tonto Apache Tribe is a great tribe. I am proud to be an Apache," added 14-year-old youth tribal council member, Miguel Lopez. "It's great to meet Sen. Hale. He inspired me. Someday, I hope to be a role model to our kids, like he is to me."
Justin Johnson, a 15-year-old Payson High School freshman, also was on hand for the appointment.
"I met the governor before and it's cool to be here a second time to meet her. It's pretty cool that she took us out on her balcony to see downtown Phoenix. It's a great feeling," said Johnson. "I want to be the first of my family to graduate from high school and I plan to do that one step at a time. Then I would like to go to college and hopefully someday start my own business."
Rep. Jackson encouraged the youth council to set high education standards.
"There are a lot of opportunities available to you. You could be lawyers or doctors. We have a great need in this specialized area and along those same lines, remember to register to vote when you are 18, not just in the tribal election, but also the state and national elections," said Jackson. "There is a great need for Indians to work as advocates."
Rep. Jackson's role is to assist the governor in working with the 22 tribes in Arizona on legislative issues. A Tribal Legislative Day was held Jan. 18. Jackson, a member of the Navajo Nation, is the former Director for Government Affairs for the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C.