Annual O’otham New Year celebration held in Sacaton
Gila River Indian News
Community members gathered for an all-night celebration to welcome in the O’otham New Year at the Sacaton Fair Grounds on June 22-23.
Before the event began, there was a small demonstration of the traditional women’s game, toka. For this O’otham New Year, many women traditional dancers stepped into the cultural circle to start the celebration led by a women’s singing group.
“Every year the O’otham New Year begins with an average of 50 women performing the Basket, Flower and Coyote dances. With this is a tradition of men singing for the women.” Pamela Thompson explained on this year’s historic opening. “In our O’otham tradition, men have taken the lead in signing our songs and there are protocols where women only sing and sit behind the men and sing. They also do not gourd when the men are singing.” A special thank you to Precious Vicente, Pamela Thompson and Barnaby Lewis for making this happen.
The celebration brought out hundreds of people from the Community, Tohono O’odham Nation and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members and royalty to celebrate the new year.
The O’otham New Year is celebrated during the summer solstice, which marks the longest day of the year. Monsoon storms and bahidaj harvesting also takes place during the new year.
Along with the all-night traditional singing and dancing, attendees were treated to menudo at midnight and giveaway dances. By midnight most of the attendees filled the cultural circle in a traditional round dance to celebrate the traditional new year.