Preparing for the 2019 District 1 Bahidaj Harvest
Gila River Indian News
With the bahidaj harvest season set to begin, preparation is critical for a successful harvest starting with a strong kuipod. On Friday, June 14, The GRIC Health Initiative, in collaboration with District 1 Community, hosted a kuipod making workshop. The kuipod is used to harvest the cactus fruit or bahidaj every summer around the traditional O’otham new year, which coincides with the summer solstice. The kuipod constructed at the workshop will be used for the June 29 Bahidaj Harvest campout in Blackwater. The event brought 25 participants from the Community and neighboring communities of Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and Tohono O’odham Nation.
District 1 elders Darlene Antone and Linda Pablo expressed the importance of the bahidaj harvest as a tradition of the O’otham Himdag. Both were happy to see the younger generation in attendance to learn about this kuipod process and want them also to attend the harvest. As elders, they stress how essential it is for youth to learn about the history of the harvest, the fruit, and how to prepare it. This education is also part of the programming of the campout at the end of the month.
The District 1 Community provided the saguaro cactus ribs in addition to the tools required to construct a kuipod. Those in attendance were instructed on how to assemble the tools by District 1 staff and elders.
Kaitlyn Martinez and Ashley Pasqual were both in attendance as first-time participants. Martinez said, “my initial interest came from the fact that I never made one before, and I wanted to learn from the elders, and I believe I achieved that today.”
Pasqual took time off of work to attend, and she’s looking forward to the harvest, stating, “I look forward to learning how to make jam from the harvested bahidaj.”
Elders shared some tips for anyone planning to attend the harvest. Those include wearing a big “floppy” hat, long-sleeved shirts, pants, durable work/hiking boots, and bring plenty of water. Also, if it’s your first time harvesting, they want Community members to come with an open mind, patience, and willingness to learn.
The District 1 Harvest will begin on Friday evening, June 28, by setting up the community camp. The bahidaj harvest will take place all day on Saturday, June 29. Closing out on Sunday the fruit will be processed in a variety of ways for all to learn. This event is open to the Community, and all are welcome to attend.