The Salt River Men’s and Women’s Gathering was held October 14 at the Talking Stick Resort. The gathering covered important topics to help and educate Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members and also enlightened SRPMIC government representatives about the issues men and women of the Community face on a daily basis.
The event was hosted by the SRPMIC Fatherhood and Healthy Relationships Program (Mentorship project) and the Life Enhancement and Resource Network (LEARN).
More than 100 men and women crowded into the two meeting rooms reserved for the conference. Kevin Poleyumptewa, Fatherhood and Family Resource specialist said that the survey completed by the event participants indicated that they liked the separation of women and men because it made it easier to bring up and discuss different topics and opinions.
Edward Sanchez taught women some basic self-defense moves. Sanchez is a two-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt champion. The women giggled as they tried to imitate his move of getting up swiftly after being pushed down.
A presentation was given by Theresa Choyguha, director of marketing and public relations for the Tohono O’odham Nation, who talked about empowerment and how women need to have self-worth and be strong. Health Educator Dr. Michael Conner addressed both groups about health issues that affect Native men and women.
The SRPMIC Council was available to answer questions on a variety of topics.
Some of the questions dealt with graffiti, gang affiliation, per cap and what Council could do about hiring people without driver’s licenses. Other questions were about mothers who are having children and not taking care of them.
Present to address the questions were Vice-President Martin Harvier and Council Members Tom Largo, Willardine Sampson, Lorna Ray and Deanna Scabby.
Two years ago, a men’s group was initiated called the SRPMIC O’odham Piipaash Fatherhood and Healthy Relationships Program, consisting of a few men from the Community. It began when Council hosted a men’s meeting, and it was such a success that Council adopted the “Fatherhood Program,” which has many more participants today and is a foundation for men of the Community to come together and discuss issues such as drugs, child neglect, addiction, domestic violence and other topics that affect them.
Poleyumptewa said that people are excited about next year’s Men’s and Women’s Gathering and look forward to the event being even bigger and better.