Jaden Bird, vice president of the Inter-Tribal Student Organization, performs a song for the crowd at the “Rez Market'' at Mesa Community College on Oct. 3, 2023. (Photo by Rey Covarrubias Jr.)

Indigenous community at Mesa Community College come together for “Rez Market”

Student organizations and Native American communities at Mesa Community College joined on Tuesday afternoon for fresh fry bread and a variety of local vendors to create a traditional indigenous market.

The “Rez Market” was held on the Southern and Dobson campus and hosted by the Inter-Tribal Student Organization and the American Indian Institute.

12 indigenous vendors offered handmade art, jewelry, and clothes, along with food such as blue corn muffins.

The idea for the “Rez Market,” came from students who wanted to bring the community formed with a Native American style market to the MCC campus. 

“A lot of us here know that feeling of going home and being able to visit the flea market,  being able to get something good to eat, and visit around with your relatives, and we wanted to create that atmosphere here,” said Talia White of AII, who also serves as an advisor to ISO.

Fry bread was sold to benefit ISO, and was prepared by MCC students who kept up with consistent demand from patrons excited to try the traditional Native American meal.

Fry bread sales went right back to ISO, with approximately $1,000 raised for the student club.

Jaden Bird, vice president of ISO, formally welcomed all those in attendance to come together “to bring peace and home to campus along with cultural awareness.”

Bird performed indigenous songs throughout the event, alternating between his native tongue and English to create music that filled the area near the clock tower lawn.

Vendors throughout the market included local residents who made intricate jewelry from natural materials, including stones that often have significance to their indigenous makers.

For vendor and artist Triston Yazzie, the jewelry he makes with his family represents a chance to share a piece of his own culture.

“Selling out here today feels nice because I get to express my culture, and tell people the meaning of each stone and the stuff they ask about, and I get to share my culture knowledge with all these people of many different backgrounds,” said Yazzie.

An indigenous take on dessert was a quick sellout, with blue corn muffins created by Blue Naadą́ą́’ Sweets selling out before the event concluded.

Gregory Hill of Hill Tops presented his hand carved wooden spinning tops, designed with intricate portraits of natural scenes and color filled geometric patterns.

“Its a fun toy, it’s a thing thats not around anymore,” said Hill, who uses the tops to serve as an educational platform as much as a toy, with his spinning tops influenced by things like science and color theory.

ISO and AII were also joined by members of the Phoenix Indian Institute to help students register to vote in upcoming elections, with indigenous speakers explaining the need for young Native American’s to make their political voices heard.

Bird, along with speakers from ISO and MCC clubs, took the opportunity to engage with students on the importance of indigenous people voting.

“We’re not warriors like the old days, we don’t have to hunt and protect for our family, but the things we can do are things within our community, we can share our voice, we can share our opinion, we can vote, we can commit to this democracy,” said Bird.

Bird invited Marti Surveyor, Maricopa County Community College senator for MCC, to say that, “Young native american voices [are] taking the place of our grandparents and parents, when it comes to protecting our land and voting people in who are looking out for us and our people.”

As the event neared its conclusion, Lehua Dosela of ISO and Jeff Thomas from the Salt-River Pima Maricopa Indian Community performed a dance and song, respectively.

“Overall the event had a great turnout and I’m proud of our club, ISO for the hard work that was put into planning and organizing this Rez Market,” said Dosela after the event.

  • Rey Covarrubias Jr.

    Rey Covarrubias Jr. is the Managing Editor for the Mesa Legend. As a lifelong Arizonan, he has found his passion in learning and sharing the diverse cultural and natural wonders of the state. Rey started writing for the Mesa Legend in 2022.

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