The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Recreation Department’s Young Eagles program has wrapped up another year. The program, which runs from September through April, is for Community-member males ages 8 to 13 and is taught by Recreation Coordinator I, Kevin Riding-In. This year’s program featured a more hands-on focus, with character-building activities and an emphasis on strengthening the boys’ identity as Native Americans.
“The first activity was learning how to fish using willow sticks—tying fishing line to the sticks and casting them out,” said Riding In. “The boys really liked this activity, and it was also a lesson [about another way to fish] in case they didn’t have a pole.”
Other activities included hiking Red Mountain with Community member Jacob Butler, who helped the boys learn to identify important plants to the Community, explaining what they can be used for. Butler also taught them why Red Mountain is sacred and why it needs to be protected.
The boys also learned about traditional stories during the winter time and self-defense warrior training, which was to build self-confidence. Community member Royce Manuel demonstrated how to make arrows and which materials were needed.
“We wrapped up the end of the season with a camping trip and horse camp at Lehi at the Garfield King residence,” said Riding-In. “King and his crew gave the boys a lesson in horse care, such as how to clean and care for the horses along with learning how to saddle them, how to get on and ride the horses.”
The main goal of the Young Eagles program is to create a healthy mind, body and soul for the youth of the Community and to help them be aware of themselves as O’odham and Piipaash people. For more information on the program, contact Salt River Recreation at (480) 362-6360.