The hot days of desert summer may have given way to chilly temperatures and winter holidays, but there’s still quite a lot going on that’s an adventure right now and promises to make for a fantastic Summer 2023.
The NAAF team is in the home stretch to complete construction on the much-awaited Free As A Bird Skatepark in GuVo District, a years-long collaboration with Endure Skate Group and many local and national partners. The Skatepark will be the only one on the Tohono O’odham Nation and will serve as a community hub for kids of all ages to engage in healthy outdoor activities like skateboarding, roller skating, and scootering. Concrete has been poured, local Indigenous mural artists are designing artwork, and a traditional shade ramada is in the works. Volunteers from the community have been an enormous help throughout the project, and NAAF will host a Grand Opening to celebrate in January, with food, live music, and a traditional blessing.
NAAF is growing bigger, literally! This Fall, our garden team began work to redesign and expand Ruth’s Oidag, NAAF’s community garden space and outdoor learning center. The growing area will increase from 96 square feet to 1300 square feet - that’s 13 times the original planting space! Additionally, the team is installing traditional fencing, drip irrigation, and a new container gardening learning corner. NAAF is also setting up a brand new greenhouse in the oidag to host classes, grow seedlings, and expand productivity year round. The beds and greenhouse will be ready for spring planting by late December, to yield what is certain to be a bountiful harvest for the whole community and an exciting new learning space for all students and their families.
All our best to you and your loved ones!
The summer monsoons have arrived in GuVo District, and Ruth's Oidag is bursting with peppers, squash, potatoes, cabbage and happy pollinators. Even the hens are happy - NAAF harvested 14 eggs this week to provide to the community! We are also pleased to be able to add fresh produce and eggs to the food boxes that are available weekly at our nonprofit grocery, The Store, for community members. The Store caters for NAAF events and programs, including providing healthy lunches and snacks for our Summer Adventure Program (SAP).
This July 5th to 28th, NAAF’s headquarters in GuVo community hosted 23 kids from Ali Chugk, Ku:kaj and GuVo villages four days a week throughout the month for loads of fun and learning. The students completed a STEM kit provided by a gracious donor via our Amazon Wishlist, and also put the YUM in STEM by making their own cemit (tortillas)! Other activities included a water day, movie day, anti-bullying activities, stargazing, and making journals.
The Summer Adventurers also got to attend two days of basketball camp with the NAAF-sponsored We R1 youth basketball team, which was a blast! Everyone loved participating in a multi-day workshop with visiting artist Joyce Peters from the SouthWest Society of Botanical Artists. The students and NAAF staff shared cultural knowledge of ha:sañ and other indigenous plants and animals with Joyce, who gave drawing lessons with colored pencils.
Continuing the focus on language immersion and celebration of O'odham culture, the kids did O'odham number and color lessons, and played a sap cecig game where everyone took turns practicing how to introduce themselves in O'odham. NAAF’s goal with the Summer Adventure Program is to keep the students of GuVo engaged in learning throughout the school break, while also offering safe space for them to laugh and play.
GLOBAL GIVING Spring 2022 (Jan, Feb, Mar)
20166 Native American Advancement Foundation Academic Summer Program
Our Summer Adventure Program (SAP) kicks off in July, and we’re already planning on a multitude of enriching activities for the students, as well as continuing education for our dedicated teachers. NAAF will be sending Program Coordinator Adriana to the Native Nutrition conference in Minneapolis in May! We know she’ll bring back new ideas for incorporating indigenous knowledge into our health and prevention programs, and we look forward to learning more about the successful nutrition classes and activities that other Native Nations share.
NAAF is thrilled to hold our first ever Language and Culture Summer Immersion Camp from June 20-24. Teaching the O’odham language to the youth of GuVo District is an integral component of NAAF’s I:mig project. Translated in English as “all is related,” I:mig provides a foundational connection between language, existence, environment, culture, humans and non-human species. The Immersion camp activities will center I:mig and O’odham himdag (lifeways), to include daily culture-centered lessons, garden classrooms, traditional songs and basketry, and guest teacher visits with fluent O’odham speakers from across the Nation. The NAAF campus in GuVo Community will host this day camp, and healthy meals and snacks will be provided daily.
Ruth’s Oidag (garden) continues to grow! Horticulture lessons for both ASP and SAP programs will include planting and maintaining colorful, nutritious crops like purple Graffiti cauliflower, strawberries, seed potatoes, okra, and chocolate bell peppers. Ruth’s Oidag is quickly becoming legendary in GuVo District; we are beginning to host field trips from neighboring schools and Districts, and plan on sharing lessons and information so that other groups can start their own community gardens. This is a great way for the SAP students to learn about sustainability and collaboration.
The chicken coop is now home to 8 baby and teenage chickens, and we are hoping for fresh eggs soon! Students are in a contest to name all the chicks as they continue to learn about the different varieties of chickens, such as Rhode Island Reds and Easter Eggers. Animal husbandry lessons are central to responsible stewardship of the Oidag, and Summer Adventure Program youth will learn how to properly feed, water, and care for this beloved chicken family.
This spring and summer, NAAF also plans to include planting activities along our handmade Ocotillo fence, where students will learn to grow blackberries, blueberries, peas, and beans - and begin to cultivate vining plants. The students will dive into lessons about food sovereignty and nutrition, and the fresh berries will one day be incorporated into the healthy snacks served at NAAF’s new Ce:ce:m A’al Early Education program.
With gratitude, and all our best Springtime wishes.
Our students in GuVo District hope you are enjoying the beginning of winter holidays! They and NAAF educators have been busy with the academic school year.
The Bureau of Indian Education schools for Tohono O'odham Nation (TON) are delivering a hybrid model of face-to-face school days per District and alternating with remote learning days. NAAF's After-School Program (ASP) and our GuVo Community Remote Learning Center (RLC) merged to provide virtual and on-site sessions for students, preschool to 12th grade.
The 2021-2022 ASP curriculum includes our foundation of Tohono O'odham language and himdag (lifeways) with a major emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and experiental learning opportunities. Since COVID-19, a major site for fun, safe and inspiring learning is Ruth's Oidag (garden). This outdoor classroom celebrated a first year birthday by growing and expanding into two new sites. Adriana, NAAF Program Coordinator leads oidag sessions both in-person and virtually through video. She teaches botany and ecology with empahsis on contemporary STEM and O'odham traditions. Fresh produce from the oidag is included in the daily meal service to each child's household, and seeds and plants are also delivered for student families to build their own home gardens. Ruth's Oidag is also the site for seasonal celebrations! NAAF hosted a "haunted garden" tour shared via video for students with a virtual costume contest and celebration of Novmber as Native American Heritage month, with a "Rock your traditional attire" week.
New curriculum for ASP includes Botvin's LifeSkills for wellness and evidence-based primary prevention. Malena, a new RLC teacher, works with Adriana to teach the curriculum and adapt the K-6th grade lessons for preschoolers, a new area of focus for NAAF. Currently, there are no preschool programs for the western region of the TON, a reservation the size of Connecticut. Malena and Adriana connect this wellness and health curriculum to indigenous, evidence-based health models from organizations like Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, Notah Begay III Foundation and SAMHSA's Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Office.
NAAF has teamed up with the Tucson Girls Chorus (TGC) to begin a new music program for ASP students! This is the only music curriculum for GuVo District students and they are loving it! Two middle school students are also training with the wonderful TGC teachers to learn music theory and application to teach young children. NAAF and TGC are sharing music cultures back and forth in these sessions, teaching appreciation for all global music cultures.
As part of NAAF's STEM and traditional O'odham farming programming, the team has also expanded into beginning animal husbandry! We are raising chickens and wonderful volunteer workers from both the community and cooperating universities built coops and educated staff on chicken and egg care. Thank you Dustin, Ervin and Andreas! And NAAF teachers welcomed the first baby chick just last week and are hosting a naming contest for the ASP students.
Finally, our beloved language professor, Selina filmed fun Tohono O'odham winter festivitity phrases that we share for your families! The video is included as a link.
Our very best to your winter celebrations and our sincere gratitude.
We hope you are having a beautiful end of summer and beginning of the new school year! The monsoons have been generous this year in the Sonoran Desert. Native American Advancement Foundation (NAAF)'s outdoor learning classroom: Ruth's Garden or Ruth's Oidag is happy and hydrated.
This summer, NAAF hosted COVID-19 safe sessions of Bahidaj Harvest Camp! The saguaro cactus, or ha:san in Tohono O'odham language, is the most recognizable and beloved symbol of the Sonoran Desert. In Tohono O'odham culture, late June and early July when ha:sañ blooms and fruits is the beginning of the new year. To celebrate a new year and teach Tohono O'odham language, culture, ecology and food systems, NAAF held Bahidaj (ha:sañ fruit) Harvest Camp for small groups of students. Multiple sessions were held over six weeks, to keep students within their family/relative groups for Center for Disease Control and Prevention precautions. This camp is the core of integrated learning: a combination of ecology and STEM skills with traditional culture---and a great time!
This summer, NAAF supported an incredible group of young people called We R1 Basketball Team, representing the western side of the Tohono O'odham Nation at the national Native American Basketball Invitation and Youth Summit (NABI), held in Phoenix, AZ from July 11-17. Young people participated in sports and health/wellness activities and were guests at the Arizona Diamondbacks' Native American Recognition Night. With the NAAF Student Services team, the players visited several colleges and attended financial aid training. Students participated at jr. high and high school level events.
Through the summer, NAAF educators have been hard at work planning the new academic year, working with regional schools and the Tohono O'odham Nation Department of Education on COVID-19 protocols. We are creating more methods to facilitate student success, as digital learning becomes de rigeur in our remote geography. The GuVo Community Remote Learning Center (RLC) has expanded education and support services to satellite locations in GuVo District and the western side of the Tohono O'odham Nation. We are collaborating with diverse partners for academic and enrichment opportunities for students, ages preschool to adult, including music, early reading, adult literacy, and post-secondary education preparation.
We are excited to share our new academic and cultural programming for the 2021-2022 School Year. And on behalf of students and their families in GuVo District, Tohono O'odham Nation: we thank YOU.
S'apo and Good Health
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