Seeds of Greatness: Tohono O’odham Earth Ambassador
Samuel Lopez enlightens with his words, “As an Earth Ambassador, my platform is to inspire youth to go out and experience the greatness which their traditional seeds have to offer. It was a blessing to witness history right before my eyes. All indigenous youth want to be apart of their culture, they just need encouragement and a place to express themselves and this event was just that. A huge thanks to the San Xavier Co-op Farm. Special thanks to the Food Production team at the farm and the Wa:k Youth Council for helping make this event possible. “Si has haicu cem hekid!” You are important always and all the time!”
Samuel hosted a Tohono O’odham Food event, open to indigenous youth who wanted to experience what their culture has to offer. The participants got to experience the journey a seed makes, when planted, to ultimately being able share the food that was grown from that seed. They spent the early morning planting “Hawol”, (Pima Lima Bean) a traditional seed that originates from our sister tribe, the Akimel O’odham. From there, they had a hands-on demonstration with mixing organic soil which the San Xavier Co-op Farm utilizes for the Plant Nursery.
After, they separated seeds from the dried Huñ (Corn), which would be used for the next season’s planting. O’odham Huñ is a white colored corn which germinates and is harvested within 60 days of being planted. This is the only type of O’odham corn that has survived generations and generations. The participants separated and cleaned Baw:i (Tepary Beans), an essential step for eating after being harvested from the fields. Baw:i is a very heat tolerant seed which needs little water to grow, perfect for growing in the desert. Next was lunch, Bo:sol was served, a mixture of beans from O’odham descent. Next, a I:ibhai (Prickly Pear) processing workshop was done with the participants, where they got their hands dirty in extracting the liquid from the I’ibhai which would make Prickly Pear lemonade and tea. After was prepping for dinner, Green Chili, White Tepary Beans, Cemait (tortillas), Pricky Pear Tea and Ha:l (O’odham squash) pudding, all the organic products were grown and harvested right at the San Xavier Co-op Farm. To end in the O’odham way, the participants got to swim at the Hikdan, a place that represents my community before modern society.
Earth Ambassadors plan to work with the National UNITY Council Executive Committee and Representatives to campaign for environmental projects for Earth Day 2020. EAs are reaching out to elders in their communities to learn teachings about caring for indigenous resources. They plan to develop an initiative to encourage UNITY youth to approach elders and tribal leaders to carry forward traditional ways. Plans are in place to host Webinars in the near future.
UNITY hopes that the EAs will attend the 2020 Midyear and another environmental excursion. UNITY is seeking a sponsor for the 2019-2020 Earth Ambassador program. For more information contact Tami Patterson at [email protected]