Lena Patricia (Raphael) Smith
Honored By: Ak-Chin Indian Community
Daughter of Juan & Maria Raphael, Siblings: Annie & Xavier, and Spouse: Michael Smith.
At fourteen she was sent to boarding school in Tucson, where she stayed and worked until her marriage to Michael Smith (deceased), Ak-Chin Member. They lived in Tucson and in Coolidge before returning to Ak-Chin.
1962-1972 - First Vice-Chairwoman and first of two women elected for Ak-Chin Tribal Council.
1962-1977 - Pat was known for her dedication to the community of Ak-Chin and the people she served. She is known for her generosity in giving her time to transport community members to the hospital in Sacaton and Phoenix, Arizona. She used her own vehicle until she was hired and Ak-Chin Tribal Council purchased a station wagon for her to use. She was known as the ambulance driver and would be on call twenty-four hours, seven days a week. Many times she would be entrusted with Ak-Chin tribal member's children riding alone to the hospital when parents could not go due to babysitting problems. Pat would stay with the child through their hospital visit and return them home with instructions for the parents, delivering their child safe and sound. Pat also transported children and parents to the nearby town of Casa Grande to purchase clothing, school supplies, and groceries.
1977-1987 - Once retiring from her duties driving members to the hospital or clinic, Pat started her work with the Police Department. She worked various job in the small Ak-Chin Tribal Police Office as the dispatcher, cook, jailer, and detention staff. She continued to work until she was unable to, due to her health, and retired.
1962-Early 2000's - Throughout her life she served as member of boards and tribal community organizations: Election Board, New Housing Commission Board Member, Gila River Health Board Tribal Representative, Member of the Livestock Group, Participated with Elders in the reburial process, church member of the Ak-Chin St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, and raised livestock. Pat was an avid photographer; she recorded many events within the community from baptisms to tribal feast events. Everyone knew if Pat was at an event she would be taking pictures, recording the event.
She shares with others the history of Ak-Chin, fluent in her O'Odham language and cultural knowledge. Pat represented leadership for all community members and respected by those who knew her and worked with her.
She was a strong and beautiful person who did what she could to help her community. Though she never had any children, she and her husband Michael were godparents to many of Ak-Chin's children. Her work will never be forgotten and her love to serve her people, never asking for much has earned her the respect and recognition for her place in the Women's Plaza of Honor.
Written By: Elaine Peters