Rediscovering the Gila Valley’s Hispanic roots

David Bell Photo/Gila Valley Central. Eastern Arizona Hispanic Heritage Corporation's Michael Andazola, left, and Lupe Munoz, right, listen as Graham County Supervisor Paul David speaks on the Gila Valley's Hispanic history during the start of Hispanic Heritage Month Tuesday.

SAFFORD — Focusing on the Latinx history of the Gila Valley, the Eastern Arizona Hispanic Heritage Corporation kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month Tuesday with a virtual event from the lawn in front of Safford’s City Hall.

The event was shown live on the group’s Facebook page and featured guest a number of guest speakers, including Safford Mayor Jason Kouts, Graham County Supervisors Paul David and Danny Smith, and Pima Town Manager Sean Lewis.

The group also used Tuesday’s online event to debut its new website —

Last year, Eastern Arizona Hispanic Heritage Corporation staged two live events — One in Greenlee County and the other in Graham — featuring mariachi bands, folklorico dancers and other examples of Hispanic culture.

“Unfortunately, because of the time and the way (COVID-19) is, we weren’t able to have our event. So we have this to make up for it,” Lupe Munoz said.

Munoz added that, when live events return, Eastern Arizona Hispanic Heritage Corporation will hold its Graham County event in Pima.

A banner will fly over Safford’s Main Street and the group is holding a number of raffles for local gift certificates, a cooler and a barbecue grill throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. Funds raised will be used for scholarships for local youths to Eastern Arizona College.