Come Together-Gather-Listen: connections with the Tohono O’odham Nation
This region is home to the Tohono O’odham people today, and has been for thousands of years. We honor this when building ongoing connections with the nearby Tohono O’odham community. The Tohono O’odham nation, currently 2.8 million acres, is 40 miles from the Land With No Name.
Over the years, and for generations, Tohono O’odham families come to collect Bear Grass for their basket-making along the nearby dirt roads. We have shared time on this Land with many of these families for their grass collecting, to share coffee and to talk.
As a result of these our interesting conversations over time, Native teachers have returned to lead workshops here at the Land With No Name sanctuary. This is where we begin to learn about their ancient, amazing, and beautiful culture: The Tohono O’odham, a desert people, resilient, strong, and creative.
Here are some of the workshops that we offer in collaboration with native teachers:
Basket Making and Tohono O’odham History with teacher Nacho Flores
This workshop always begins with looking at a large map of Arizona. We locate different villages, and discuss what has happened here in the past, and what is happening here presently.
We are given an in-depth demonstration in traditional basket making and have an opportunity to begin weaving our own. But soon the class becomes an in-depth conversation about native history and current events. Depending on the season, certain stories about animals and plants are shared. Border issues are discussed. Elements of the language and different dialects are discussed. Experiences about life in the small Tohono O’odham towns are shared.
As we sit together and engage in Tohono O’odham learning, a profound feeling of appreciation seems to encompass us all, this land, the people, a deep gratitude for those who have walked before us, and for those who carry on their teachings now.
Tohono O’odham Conversations with Thomasa Rivas: Sculpture Tour with group discussion to follow
This workshop begins with a sculpture tour, led by Ted, Kate, and Thomasa. Ted and Kate point out the sculptures and their stories, and Thomasa points out medicinal plants and offers knowledge about the mountain ranges from a Tohono O’odham perspective.
After the sculpture tour, we gather in the straw bale house and open-up the conversation about Tohono O’odham life, both past and present.
No question is too small. We share our curiosities, learn about issues on the nation, and discuss how we can work together to understand current events and cultural perspectives.