Josh Scott, left, and Lehua Dosela, right, perform a basket dance at the 2023 tribal blessing day at Mesa Community College, on August 21, 2023. (Photo by Rey Covarrubias Jr.)

Tribal blessing day at Mesa Community College sees a return to its roots

The 2023 Tribal Blessing Day was hosted by the student led American Indian Institute and the Inter-Tribal Student Organization on Wednesday at Mesa Community College’s Southern and Dobson campus.

Community and student leaders from AII, ISO, and student life joined together to bless the campus and all those who attended in the traditional style across a diverse group of indigenous tribes.

Talia White of AII gave opening remarks. She mindfully reminded all those in attendance that MCC campuses lay on the ancestral territory of native americans, which includes the O’odham, Piipaash, and Yavapai people.

White explained that this year’s tribal blessing day saw a return to tradition with song, dance and a combination of each tribe’s unique culture to wish the campus success, wellness, and health for the academic year.

The tribal blessing day marks the end of the four day long “Native Thunderbird Week,” specifically spread out across four days to honor similar celebrations within indigenous cultures that typically also last four days.

The first blessing of the day came from cousins Kristopher Dosela and Josh Scott who sang and danced in traditional O’odham style, respectively.

The two were also joined by Lehua Dosela, a public resource officer at ISO, and Ms. Gila River 2023, to perform a traditional basket dance.

Dosela explained a traditional allegory where Native American women would weave intricate baskets as a way of showing a prospective husband of their care and dedication that revealed itself through work ethic.

“You’re not judged on baskets [you make] or your boat making skills, but you’re judged on your education, and so that this place [MCC] here is helping you weave your basket,” said Dolesa.

Trevor Foster of the Phoenix Indian Center then proceeded to give a traditional Navajo blessing honoring his late grandfather, Tom Foster, who taught him the history of his people’s song.

Jaden Bird, vice president of the ISO, then took the stage to sing traditional Hopi and Winnebago songs that represented a collection of blessings manifesting a positive and healthy life.

Student’s also took the stage and highlighted the vibrant and growing community amongst the different native communities and clubs across MCC campuses.

The ceremony concluded as Aziz Alhadi of MCC’s international education department introduced Alion Belau, a member of the Moni tribe from West Papua, highlighting the unity amongst indigenous people across the world. 

Belau, who was dressed in traditional Moni wear, performed a dance honoring the gifts given to us by nature, set to the tune of Humbello by the Black Brothers, a band from West Papua.

“We have more 70 different countries of the world here in the international population [at MCC], but if you add to that the region of Phoenix and Arizona and the tribes, you can actually say that there’s probably more than 150 languages and unique cultural identities available, right over here on this campus,” said Alhadi.

This story was edited on 9/6/2023 to correct an error made at the time of publication. It is Josh Scott on the left in the photo, correct from “Josh Soot”.


  • Rey Covarrubias Jr.

    Rey Covarrubias Jr. is a freelance reporter 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.

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