Caudio sat across a table from another girl, slicing dried cattail
stalks for their intricate Pima basket.
is the devil's claw," Tasheene, 12, said, lifting dark, curled
fibers soaking in water. "It's for the dark part of the designs."
two girls are part of a summer school program at the Gila Crossing
Community School that emphasizes basics like reading, writing and
math, along with cultural preservation.
a mandate from the school board to teach tribal culture and agriculture
every year, kindergarten through eighth grade," Principal Beverly
summer program, and the after-school program during the year, are
funded with a federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning
Centers program. But the money will run out next May, and school
officials are looking for other ways to support the program.
many of the students it is the first instruction they have had in
beading, basketry, pottery and propagation of native plants, all
skills practiced by the Pima and Maricopa tribes that call this
Pimas are known for their intricately patterned baskets of willow
shoots, cattails and devil's claw, woven so tightly they can hold
know mine's not going to hold water," said Tasheene, laughing.
Maricopa Tribe is known for red clay jars and bowls made from clay
dug locally and decorated with natural dyes. And for the brightly
painted gourd rattles used in traditional dancing at wakes and cremations.
we sing all night long," said Sterling Sunn, who is teaching
the boys how to make the gourds.
males touch the gourds," he said.
Walker, 13, carefully cleans out the inside of the dried gourd and
sands it smooth on the outside. He and Sunn crack the skins off
dried palm tree seeds and place the hard round seeds inside the
gourd to make the rattling sounds. They add a handle of saguaro
spine or cottonwood branch and paint bright designs on the gourd.
another table, Damian Sundust, 11, is beading a collar necklace.
grandma told me women wear this at a wake," he said.
the greenhouse across campus, teacher Tim Moore is helping students
is important for improving diets and for its historical heritage,"
Moore said. "We grow a lot of food that goes home: squash,
summer, as part of an entrepreneurship program, we've sold, i'itoi
onions, a low desert bunching onion, to Native Seed Search. We grow
carrots, spinach, lettuce, peas, beets, onions, garlic, aloe. And
we make soap using loofahs that we grew in the garden."
are part of a mural the children have painted on one of the school's
Pima, known for their farming ability, expanded the ancient irrigation
system built by their ancestors, the Hohokam, and exported cotton,
corn and wheat.
started with words they wanted to include - sports, planets, mother
earth, pottery - then came up with pictures that illustrated those
words," said Jennifer Gonzales, one of the program's co-directors,
who helped plan the mural.
the middle of the mural is the Pima "Man in the Maze"
figure, showing a man standing in a circular maze.
maze takes the figure through his "lifepath" and the search
for balance - physical, social, mental and spiritual.
and goals are in the center of the maze.
someone going through their whole life trying to get somewhere,"
said Jennifer Acedo, 13.