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The Sgevk Mavid (Strong Lions) Group Teaches Young Men

Amson Collins and Kevin Riding-In give instruction to youth as they shoot arrows from bows they worked on for several months. Not pictured was Ephraim Sloan.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Recreation Department’s Sgevk Mavid (Strong Lions) young men’s group for those in grades 7 through 12 teaches traditional values and skills, such as how to make a bow and arrows from collected wood.

The group, which is led by Recreation coordinators Kevin Riding-In and Ephraim Sloan, meets on Wednesdays at Salt River Recreation.

This is the second year for the program. The group of youngsters has worked on making traditional bows for three months, helped along by Community member Amson Collins, who volunteered to teach the group. During their target-shooting day on February 8, students Nate and Rene Lopez used their bows to shoot arrows with the staff and Collins.

“I am really glad I tried this and thankful to Amson for teaching us,” said Nate Lopez.

Rene Lopez said he also enjoyed the program, and for both it was their very first time to learn how to make and shoot bows and arrows.

“It is important to learn traditional values and skills because it teaches many lessons. Hard work and persistence are required to make these bows,” said Riding-In. “It also teaches them to respect nature—to only take what you need, give thanks to the plant for taking its branches so you can use it to make a tool, and to respect the animals. If they hunt one, they must eat it and give the animal a prayer [of thanks] for providing itself for food.”

The lesson included bow-and-arrow safety and being aware of one’s surroundings when shooting an arrow. The students learned never to point an arrow at anything they don’t want to shoot and to always know what is in front of and behind the target.

The Sgevk Mavid group helps young men realize their identity as Native Americans and to understand and know their cultural roots and traditions.

“I’m thankful for the [Recreation] department for supporting this program and my partner Ephraim for all his help and assistance,” said Riding-In. “And a big thanks to Amson Collins for his dedication to the group and volunteering his free time and sharing his knowledge with our group so they learn and grow.”

For more information on the boys’ Strong Lions and Young Eagles programs, contact Riding-In or Sloan at (480) 362-6360.