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2023-06-15 10:08:55 Views : 329 |

News: Assyrian New Year recognized in Arizona

Flag of Arizona

Ishtartv.com - 12news.com

Allison Rodriguez, June 13, 2023


An ancient culture that speaks an even older language is finding a home here in Arizona.


PHOENIX — There are more than an estimated 400,000 Assyrians living in the U.S. today and a growing number live in or are moving to Arizona. 

It's an ancient culture speaking an ancient language, and the local Assyrian community is making sure their ancient traditions are kept alive. 

Ninorta Kasso is part of the Assyrian community in Arizona. She said, "If you don't know an Assyrian, you really don't know about the history of the people or their culture."  

Assyrian roots date back thousands of years to, "Biblical times, Mesopotamia, Babylon-that region. So those are the Assyrians," Kasso explains.  

The Assyrians are the indigenous people of certain regions of what is now modern-day Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria. There is no current country named Assyria, but Kasso says they hold tight their connections to the land, and she’s even done a birthright trip. 

Today more than 25,000 Assyrians all Arizona home and they work to keep their customs and traditions alive. Kasso said, "the biggest one is the Assyrian New Year."  

Recently Kasso headed up an effort to get the Assyrian New Year recognized in Arizona on April 1st thought the celebration typically lasts for 12 days. She and others recruited Arizona State Representative Judy Schwiebert to help.

"Frankly I've lived in the Valley my whole life, but I never knew about the Assyrian American culture," Rep. Schwiebert said.   

Schwiebert sponsored the resolution and was able to get both state Democrats and Republicans to sign off. She said, “This is a non-partisan thing. To really help celebrate our constituents." 

On March 20th the House passed the resolution and ten days later the Senate. The community celebrated Assyrian New Year 6773 on April 1st, 2023. It's a moment Kasso and fellow Assyrians won't forget.

"The feeling that recognition of who the Assyrians are and the celebration of the Assyrian New Year, it was just amazing," she explained.

Kasso hopes this resolution will help other Assyrians living in Arizona feel seen and know this is a state that celebrates who they are. She said, "We are extremely resilient. We are a resilient group of people."  

In the future Kasso would like the state to recognize the Assyrian Genocide by the Ottomans in the Middle East.  That took place from 1914 to 1923 when more than 300,000 Assyrians were killed. 

For now, she’s hoping the community will continue to grow in the state she now calls her home.

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