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Tribal Affairs


The work of First Things First is rooted in a profound respect for tribal sovereignty and a commitment to working in collaboration with tribes in Arizona to ensure that young children entering school in tribal communities are healthy and ready to succeed.

Partnership with Indian Tribes and Nations in Arizona

The statute that created First Things First empowers Federally Recognized Tribes in Arizona to decide how they would like to participate in the regional structure of First Things First. Tribes can elect to have their lands designated as a separate regional partnership council – a tribal region – or they can elect to participate in the designated FTF region or regions in which their tribal lands are located – FTF regions affiliated with Tribes. First Things First acknowledges self-governance as expressed by the right of Arizona Tribes to make their own determination whether or not to become their own FTF region. Nineteen Arizona Tribes have elected to participate in First Things First. In addition, every First Things First regional partnership council whose designated geographic area includes Tribal lands must have at least one Tribal representative.

Strategies funded in tribal communities include:

  • Family support, including home visitation programs for parents with newborns;
  • Early language and literacy development, including native languages;
  • Nutrition assistance and obesity prevention;
  • Health screenings and outreach about health insurance; and,
  • Several programs aimed at improving the quality of early education environments, including scholarships to enhance the professional skills of teachers working with the youngest tribal children.

Map of tribal regions

Tribal Regions

Tribes who have elected to have their tribal lands treated as a separate region by the First Things First Board are:

Regions Affiliated With Tribes

Tribes who have elected to participate in the designated FTF region or regions in which their tribal lands are located:

  • Coconino including Havasupai Tribe, Hopi Tribe & Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians
  • Gila including Tonto Apache Tribe
  • La Paz/Mohave including Fort Mojave Indian Tribe
  • East Maricopa including Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation
  • Pinal including Ak-Chin Indian Community
  • Yavapai including Yavapai-Apache Nation
  • Yuma including Quechan Tribe

Tribal Consultation

First Things First acknowledges the rich cultural diversity of the twenty-two federally recognized tribes in Arizona and recognizes that Indian tribes must have a strong voice in shaping the policies and programming that affect their communities. First Things First believes that improving communication and partnerships with Indian tribes of Arizona is essential to providing all of Arizona’s children a solid start so they can grow up ready to succeed in school and life. To that end, First Things First is committed to operating within a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized Indian Tribes of Arizona. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential that First Things First and Arizona tribes engage in open, continuous and meaningful consultation on a government-to-government basis.

Learn more

Tribal Affairs at First Things First

Tribal Affairs is an integral component of First Things First. Candida Hunter, our senior director of tribal affairs, serves as a link to tribal governments, Indian organizations, the general public and FTF staff. She can be contacted at 602.771.5034 or

Government Relations

First Things First is committed to facilitating effective government-to-government relationships between FTF and Arizona Tribes and Indian Nations by:

  • Respecting and honoring the sovereignty of the tribes
  • Consulting with tribal governments to ensure that concerns and impacts are carefully considered before FTF takes action or makes decisions affecting tribal communities as outlined in the FTF Tribal Consultation Policy
  • Ensuring ongoing communication with tribal governments and tribal partners by responding to requests for information and providing technical assistance as it relates to the work of First Things First

Tribal Relations

First Things First is committed to fostering tribal relations through collaborative partnerships by:Chart of tribal affairs

  • Working with tribal partners, such as other state agencies, the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and the Indian Health Service, to provide information and resources related to the work of First Things First.
  • Facilitating partnerships and educating both the public and private sectors on FTF programming in tribal communities.

Organizational Relations

First Things First is committed to strengthening FTF organizational relations as it relates to Indian tribes and nations by:

  • Advising FTF officials on tribal perspectives regarding FTF policies and programs
  • Formulating and recommending policies and FTF programs and funding initiatives impacting tribes
  • Developing and fostering effective communication and collaboration between FTF staff and staff members from tribes and nations
  • Training FTF staff and others in the area of tribal relations through ongoing comprehension education

Cultural Relations

First Things First is committed to facilitating the provision of culturally appropriate early childhood services in tribal communities by:

  • Identifying tribal considerations in the development of policy, program and funding initiatives impacting tribal communities
  • Providing training to FTF grantees and partners who provide services in tribal communities

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