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Jarrod Lewis gave youth a chance to create a rattle from a gourd.

Kinship Conference Strengthens Family and Cultural Connections

By Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

This year during spring break, youth from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community had the opportunity to take part in a Kinship Conference sponsored by SRPMIC Health and Human Services and funded by the Educate to Elevate campaign.

The conference was held on March 13 at the Salt River Community Building and was for youth between the ages of 6 and 18.

The day began outside, where Cultural Resources Department Director Kelly Washington sang a song in Piipaash and then led the students inside the building. SRPMIC Vice-President Martin Harvier opened the program with a prayer. He encouraged the youth to learn more about who they are within their families and their cultures, and to ask questions about their family history.

Staff facilitators and Community members volunteered their time to the conference and led the youth in games, interactive activities and storytelling sessions. The youth also divided into groups to attend a series of workshops on topics having to do with their culture and tradition.

They learned about beading from O’odham/Piipaash instructors Annette Lewis and Linda Gonzales, who taught them about the materials needed in beadwork and how to create jewelry.

Jenny Yazzie from the Salt River Financial Services Institution presented some lessons on how to save money and also taught new vocabulary words by playing a game of bingo.

Community member Garfield King, Sr. and his son held a horse clinic outside the building. Children gathered around the horses and horse corral to hear King teach them how to take care of a horse. Topics included safety, brushing and how to saddle a horse.

Jimmy Moore, Jr. demonstrated how to lasso a sawhorse. The children in this group took turns learning how to hold the rope and throw it. He also demonstrated how to use a saw and hammer.

In one session, Royce Manuel showed the bow and arrow he made and demonstrated how to use it. He also explained about the traditional burden basket he constructed from agave, and other utilitarian items used by the ancestors long ago.

A gourd activity led by Jarrod Lewis gave youth a chance to see how gourds are prepared and cleaned before they are made into rattles. The kids took turns washing and cleaning out the gourds and using the tools associated with making the rattles.

The session by the Salt River Youth Council was called “Protecting Our Family.” They also had some ice-breaker activities for their group.

The staff members came from various programs to share their insight. “The overall planning group had been meeting since late August to discuss goals for the series,” said Debbie Manuel, community health educator for Health and Human Services.

The Educate to Elevate campaign is funded by the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) and coordinated through the Health Education Program within the Health and Human Services Department. The goals of the grant are to integrate tribal cultural concepts and values while providing prevention and education.

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