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Housing Maintenance Laborer, Angel Alvarado teaches Community member Gloria Vasquez how to patch a hole in drywall during the Maintenance 101 workshop.

Eighth Annual Homeownership Conference Educates Community Homeowners

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Housing Division held its eighth annual Residents and Homeowners Conference on September 8 at Salt River High School. This year the Housing Division focused the conference around the theme “Working Toward a Better Future.”

The conference kicked off with a continental breakfast and a series of booths that offered information from the Salt River Education Department, Salt River Day Labor Program, Community artists and a number of various vendors. During the event, attendees went to four workshops covering different home-related topics

The keynote speaker was Angela Garcia, the Native American Graves and Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) coordinator for the Cultural Resources Department. Garcia tied together the traditions of the O’odham and Piipaash to speak on the theme “Working Toward a Better Future.”

Garcia explained, “In order to maintain our cultural lifeways, we have to stay together, interact with each other. We have to remember to integrate our ideals [and traditional lifeways] through the landscape and Community.”

“How do you do that, how does that tie to the Community, and how does that all relate?” Garcia asked. She gave the example of an incident that happened when she was younger and had a new baby and house.

Garcia’s grandparents had told her that a person’s home is very important. It has a traditional cultural tie to you; you live your life there.

“Every minute of your life that you spend there, you’re envisioning your life force into that particular place. The state of your home really reflects the state of your mind. If your home is a mess, you can go in and change it. If you don’t, it’s because you made a choice that you didn’t want to; it happens because your mind is not in order. You can change that by adhering to your traditional values.

“I was always terrified when the notices came in the mail about home inspections,” she said. “I would talk to my grandparents about this, and they were really perplexed and wondered why would this be an issue [for me]. ‘Why are you worried about that?’ they asked.

“I put that emphasis on it myself—no one said that if I don’t pass [the home inspection], the end of the world is going to be imminent right after that last paper is signed,” said Garcia. “The next [question] was ‘Why you wouldn’t be prepared for that?’ My life was a mess at that time; I was 18 years old, I had a brand-new child. I thought [the home inspection] was another thing I had to worry about, and that’s how I put that negative emphasis on it. [The inspectors] weren’t putting pressure on me; they were doing their jobs.

“If you’re living according to your particular traditional lifeways, it shouldn’t be a problem. Because if you think of yourself less, you [realize that you] have an entire network of people that will help you overcome these obstacles,” said Garcia. “My family came and helped me get my stuff in order and get through the inspection; they helped me to think differently about it. They helped me to [see the inspection not as a worrisome obstacle but as] something you can do to meet with your family. You can get together and help one another to improve your life, home, improve everything you are.”

During the conference, a raffle was held for prizes that help in home maintenance. Each workshop held a raffle, and the grand prize of new patio furniture was awarded to Kathy Garza.

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