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Local Student Signs National Letter of Intent to Play Basketball for University of Alaska Fairbanks


A student scores a big win for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe as he becomes the first member in the tribe's history to be recruited to play collegiate sports. Ruben Silvas, 20, will sign a National Letter of Intent to play basketball for the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Silvas is a 6-foot-3-inch shooting guard who has played basketball since the second grade. He saw that the university was holding open tryouts for its basketball team at Tohono O'odham Community College, and decided to give it his best shot. Silvas ultimately earned a spot on the roster and a full-ride scholarship to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

While at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Silvas will pursue his academic dream of becoming a school guidance counselor. He plans to study psychology and follow in the footsteps of the two high school counselors who supported him throughout high school. One day, he hopes to help other kids with their college aspirations.

“Without this scholarship, this would not have been possible for me and my family,” said Silvas who is the oldest of 11 children and the first in his family to go to a four-year university. “This is important to me because I want to be an example to my siblings and other Pascua Yaqui kids.”

Pascua Yaqui Tribal Enterprises are the largest contributors to the community's education system and recreational programs. Revenue from each enterprise contributes to schools, and students gain valuable experience through the tribe's work-study programs to teach them essential skills to succeed in careers.

“Preparing our students with the abilities and education they need to have successful and independent lives is essential to the social and economic wellbeing of our tribe,” said Tribal Council Chairman Peter Yucupicio. “We are dedicated to investing in our youth through educational programs and services that further our community for future generations.”

Come join the Pascua Yaqui community at Casino Del Sol Resort's Conference Center Wednesday, April 16, at 10 a.m. to celebrate Silvas' achievements and send him off to a successful college career as he signs his National Letter of Intent.

About the Pascua Yaqui Tribe

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe is a federally recognized tribe with a reservation located in southwest Tucson, Arizona. As early as the 1690s, the Tumacácori area became the earliest known settlement of Yaquis in what later became Arizona. In 1960, Yaquis in Old Pascua (near Grant and I-10 in Tucson) initiated a request for land primarily to protect our culture and seek a permanent home. In 1963, the Pascua Yaqui Association (PYA) was formed and elected a Board of Directors led by Anselmo Valencia. In 1964, the U.S. Government deeded 202.76 acres to “Pascua Yaqui Association” (Lyndon B. Johnson). In 1967 the first families moved into “New Pascua” in southwest Tucson. In 1975, the Pascua Yaqui Association from Tucson sought federal recognition from Congress. On September 18, 1978, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe was officially recognized by Congress, 25 U.S.C. 1300f-2. “New Pascua” is the tribe's current reservation.

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