On March 15, both O’odham and Piipaash language learners enjoyed Family Game Night, held in the main classroom at Cultural Resources Department Building 12.
O’odham Piipaash Language Program Hosts First Family Game Night
Submitted by the O’odham Piipaash Language Program

Before technology became such a large part of our lives, O’odham and Piipaash families would spend most of their time together, working, eating and talking, making direct human contact. Nowadays we’re very lucky to have any family activities without the presence of cell phones or electronic devices dominating the attention of family members of all ages. Families rarely sit and talk together anymore, let alone to speak with each other in our O’odham and Piipaash languages.

As part of the overall effort to preserve and revitalize our native languages, the O’odham Piipaash Language Program (OPLP) strives to develop new and adaptive ways to encourage and inspire Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members to interact with one another, using O’odham and Piipaash.

On Tuesday, March 15, the OPLP hosted its first Family Game Night, which combined modern family card games and our precious languages to create a fun language-leaning activity. The terminology for the card games Uno and Crazy Eights was translated into both O’odham and Piipaash.

The classroom was set up so that O’odham and Piipaash language learners could play each other. If help was needed, OPLP staff members were on hand to assist.

Encouragement and positive experiences may be a factor in determining whether or not a person will retain any unfamiliar language and return for more language activities, classes or other O’odham and Piipaash language-oriented events. Realizing that many in attendance were new to language learning, careful attention was paid to make sure was attendees were taught in a positive and encouraging manner, making language learning a great experience for everyone.

The names of the games were translated as follows:

In a previous Au-Authm Action News article, our program shared information about how translations are discussed. These translations come from fluent speakers of the O’odham Ñiok? Hemapik (O’odham Speaking Gathering), which is held on the first Thursday of every month, and the Piipaa Kuutsh Matasheevum (Piipaash Elders’ Gathering), which is held on the last Tuesday of the month (January to October).

Most of the 32 individuals who participated in Family Game Night were attending one of the OPLP’s three language classes: the O’odham Immersion Class, the Piipaash Immersion Class or the Beginning Piipaash Class. This was a great chance to practice what the students have learned in previous classes. Some students who were familiar helped new participants with their language learning.

Raffle prizes included the game Uno and decks of regular playing cards. These games can be played with family and friends outside the “classroom” setting, allowing individuals to take the languages home with them.

Watch for upcoming classes in April and for the summer. We look forward to seeing more participants in both our O’odham and Piipaash language classes. If you, your family or anyone is interested in any upcoming classes, please contact the SRPMIC Cultural Resources Department at (480) 362-6325 or visit our website at

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