Gila River Natives Renew Farming - Part 2
The Hohokams harvested several varieties of corn, tepary beans similar to pintos, as well as pumpkin, squashes, and wild edible greens such as pigweed and amaranth. They grew Pima cotton, gourds for bowls and rattles. They hunted and fished the river.
Through archeological evidence of corncobs, corn pollen and fire pits, experts date cultivation as early as 200 A.D. in some areas. There are areas in Mexico that have been dated to 6,000 years ago according to Enrique Salmon, an expert in biodiversity with the Christensen Fund in California.
When artwork became more elaborate, there were drawings of corn on pottery in kiva paintings and petroglyphs.
In 1500 when the Spanish arrived they found Hohokam ruins and thriving villages of the Hohokam descendents, the Pimas.
Now in addition to the 4,600 acres growing cotton, Gila River Farms currently has 1,000 acres in citrus including navel, Valencia and Arizona sweet oranges, Rio and ruby red grapefruit, watermelon, lemons, tangerines and Orlando tangelos, a cross between a tangerine and grapefruit.
Past the barns filled with 500 tons of hay, harvested this summer, the alfalfa planted in September is growing and workers are putting in 2,200 acres of durum wheat while will be shipped to Italy for pasta. In addition the farm grows olives, onions and barley.
The tribes have been fighting to get back the water they lost when the dams were built and the recent water settlement guarantees 653,500 acre-feet of water each year and $400 million to help upgrade the farmer’s irrigation
“The Water settlement Act introduces a source of money into the community, keeps people making money in the community, provides an opportunity for personal growth for young people”, Salmon stressed. “They don’t have to move to Phoenix. They can work here. And there are all the support services that come with agriculture.
“And, it offers a sense of community. The community doesn’t get dispersed. There is a sense of pride. It’s all very important for a community that for a number of decades
had no community spirit.”
This story has been edited for length and content from an article in the January 19th edition of The Arizona Republic bylined Judy Nichols
Obesity Among Native Children
Obesity among US children has tripled in the past 25 years> nearly one out of three American children ages 6-19 is overweight.
These rates could be even higher in Arizona. Rene Cunnien, manager of the obesity prevention program at the Arizona Department of Health services says “We know a higher-than-average population of Native Americans have a higher rate of obesity” She does not mention the higher-than average population of Native Americans also have a higher rate of diabetes.
Because renewed agriculture productivity will bring an increase in the physical activity associated with farm labor within the Gila River communities and Tohono O’odham Nation, it may also bring about a decrease in obesity, diabetes and alcoholism. This is worth a study by the state health department.
The Pima-Maricopa tribes got back their “mojo”- bobbie
Another Plus for The Gila River Community
The Gila River Women Veterans Honor Guard are a part of the Tradition of Indian Women Warriors. These women are extremely dedicated in honoring and highlighting the role of Native Women in the military. The group is small but has become very visible. They have been Honor Guards for parades, powwows, and national conferences and have been recently asked to post the colors for an international being held in Phoenix.
Members of the group are Carol Buckles, USAFNG; Michelle Bowman, USN; Tanda Ellis, USA; and Rebecca Notah, USN.
This piece has been edited from an Internet site – Native American Women With Military Service created by Brenda Finnicum.
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