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Dozens Visit SRPMIC for Annual Men’s and Women’s Gathering

Men’s and Women’s Gathering participants take part in a group activity on August 23.

Workshops geared toward healing and strengthening Native American families attracted about 300 people to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in August.

People from across Arizona and as far away as Minnesota and Illinois attended the seventh annual Men’s and Women’s Gathering, a three-day conference held August 23-25 at Talking Stick Resort. The SRPMIC Life Enhancement and Resource Network (LEARN) organized the popular conference.

The conference’s focus is to provide information and resources in an effort to improve family life in Indian Country. The conference included guest speakers and numerous workshops and activities for participants.

“The reason we have this conference is because we need to come together as Native people in order for us to heal our communities,” said Kevin Poleyumptewa in the conference opening remarks. “We have a lot of adversity we are going through, and some of you experienced a lot of trauma.”

Poleyumptewa, a resource specialist for the Community’s Fatherhood and Healthy Relationships program, opened up the conference with a short exercise on stage using three volunteers from the crowd. The volunteers had to close their eyes and keep their arms out in front of them while Poleyumptewa tested each one on sound and touch.

“It takes a lot of bravery to come up on this stage, in front of a couple hundred people,” he said. “Give a little bit of trust and a little bit of faith, and everything turns all right in the end.”

The schedule for the first two days of the conference featured a general session, workshops in the afternoon, and a special event at night. The third day ended around noon, after a morning of workshops.

SRPMIC Council Member Ricardo Leonard, who gave the conference’s opening blessing, said many Native communities across the country are struggling with drug abuse and parents are refusing to accept and exercise their parental responsibilities.

“We have a lot of children in foster care now; a lot of our young people are signing their children away,” Leonard said. “That’s unheard of at any time in our history. It’s a sad fact. But those are the realities, and I know this conference will help you understand these things and help you deal with them more.” Conference attendees had access to counseling as needed.

“These things can be fixed; it takes every one of us here. I hope you take back the message [to your communities] that we need to be more strong together.”

To view the conference agenda, which includes information on the visiting speakers and workshop topics, visit http://goo.gl/LfRAdI.

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