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O’odham Piipaash Halloween Bingo: A Night for Learning Culture and Having Fun

Costume ready, bingo card set, and sweets good to go.

On October 19, the O’odham Piipaash Language Program (OPLP) hosted the annual O’odham Piipaash Halloween Bingo game at the Salt River Community Building.

The bingo vocabulary words were based on fall and Halloween themes, in both the O’odham and Piipaash languages. The staff passed out “cheat sheets” and crayons to the bingo players. When the words were called out by the speaker, one of the OPLP instructors, they were spoken twice, once in O’odham and once in Piipaash.

Besides bingo, a big highlight for the night was the costume parade. Everyone who came dressed in costume paraded down the aisles for the judges and others to see. Prizes were given out for the scariest, cutest, and most original costume, in both child and adult categories.

In the children’s division, Lyla-Anne Waters won the scariest costume award for her Freddy Krueger costume. Her father said it was her decision to wear it after she saw the character in the video game Minecraft.

Matthew Harreison’s shark costume took the prize for cutest costume. When asked why he dressed as a shark, he replied, “Because I like Shark Week!”

Tyrin Thorne Jr. won for most original costume, dressed as Abu from Disney’s Aladdin. His parents looked up what would be the best costumes to choose as a family; his parents dressed as Aladdin and Jasmine.

“Our main goal for most of our events under the OPLP is to promote the language and advocate for the language, that it needs to be used,” said Michelle Johnson, OPLP education specialist. “With these kind of events, we just want our participants to come and hear [the language], to partake in saying it, and be able to see it written in our orthographies and heard from our speakers.”

Many of the students taking part in this semester’s OPLP immersion classes were also present. Joesell Garza is a student in the Piipaash immersion class. She talked about the class and going over the vocabulary lessons to help prepare them. She has high hopes for the people who participated on bingo night.

“I hope everybody just realizes how important the language is and how much we need it in our culture. Nights like these really bring us together to learn it,” Garza said.

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