Tohono O’odham Nation Youth Council (TONYC) hosts annual “O’odham Camp” event – UNITY, Inc.

Tohono O’odham Nation Youth Council (TONYC) hosts annual “O’odham Camp” event

On January 12-13, 2018, the UNITY Tohono O’odham Nation Youth Council (TONYC) partnered with Baboquivari District to host its Annual “O’odham Camp” event as part of the UNITY Wellness Warrior Challenge! Friday night kicked off the O’odham Camp with storytelling and traditional songs led by the youth around the campfire under the stars. Youth took turns sharing their oral history and the meanings behind different songs late into the night. Indigenous languages and songs are powerful and create mental wellness when carried out in social gatherings.

The 2018 O’odham Camp was nestled at the foot of Baboquivari Peak in Arizona. Its name comes from waw kwiulk, which is O’odham for “Constricted Rock” and contains the home of the Creator of the O’odham. Early Saturday morning, participants hiked the peak to visit the center of their Tohono O’odham universe as a group. Youth explained how taking time to a deeper connection with your land and sacred sites create wellness and a strong sense of self which can strengthen youth to tackle any modern-day challenges. Youth gathered together making traditional foods over the fire such as Chumath bread and O’odham squash grown at the local school’s garden. They explained how the Tohono O’odham Nation engages in Food Sovereignty locally in many ways. Food sovereignty is a key part of Wellness Warriors Challenge to educate youth that they have the right to healthy and culturally appropriate foods through ecologically sound and sustainable methods. Check out their Youth Council’s recipe uploaded on the Wellness Warriors mobile app!

Each cultural workshop showed different traditional teachings of what it means to be a “Wellness Warrior” in O’odham. Different leaders from the Tohono O’odham Nation Youth Council lead workshops in basketry, outdoor art, traditional cooking over the fire and several traditional games. Participants took quiet time, in the cool of the day to reflect and paint their Camp experiences and teachings through the outdoor art project to take home with them. This exemplified how wellness can be creative and be expressed in various ways that promote a healthy mind, body, and soul. While the young men played Woicuda, a barefoot ball game, the Youth Council taught UNITY Wellness Warriors Staff, LorenAshley how to play traditional women’s’ games Toka and Komai. Tóka, a fierce women’s’ stickball game comparable to lacrosse, involves an ola made out of two thick mesquite wood pieces tied together with leather. Mesquite branches are fashioned into the curved sticks called usiga. Komai is a traditional women’s’ betting hand game, and W. Traditional games and betting games were important to O’odham social life, some villages had a game leader who would organize inter-village tournaments and races. Each of our traditional games teaches important values Wellness Warriors feel are vital to the making of great leaders, such as endurance, cultural pride, patience, humility, problem-solving, and competitive grit!

Thank you to everyone who helped make this years’ O’odham Camp a success! Share your local Wellness Warrior event with UNITY Staff by emailing to be in future eblasts! For more information on this event contact TONYC at 520-383-4665.

Download the FREE UNITY Wellness Warriors App today! Use the mobile app to create a Action Plan for your next wellness event to complete the Wellness Warriors Challenge!
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