A’AGA: Something to be told or talked about

June 2, 2017


By Billy Allen


Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do,

But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues


“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” The great American writer John Steinbeck could have been speaking to elder GRICsters who grew up BC -- before coolers! Cooling off meant going outside under trees or sitting under a va:to. My lu:lu’u was fond of telling us children, “You kids are spoiled, we never felt the heat until we got the cooler. Now go outside.” Life did not stop because of our normal summer weather. I fondly recall eating watermelon in the evenings and my father reminding us to save some for the horses. (You’re not to scrape it down to the white of the rind.)


Here are some noteworthy events of Saguaro Ripening Month / Ha:sañ Baidag Masad.

On June 4, 1871, President Grant signed an executive order placing General George Crook in command of Arizona, orders were to keep Indians on the reservation. General Crook was successful by using Indian scouts to find their brethren. The general used this tactic with the Snake and Paiute in the Pacific Northwest. Eventually O’odham and Piipaash scouts were phased out as the focus turned to San Carlos.


Summer breeze makes me feel fine

Blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind


On June 14, 1879, an executive order set aside the Salt River Indian Reservation for Akimel O’odham and Piipaash. Our relatives / hahajun will celebrate on June 10 with O’odham and Piipaash Social Dancing, a State of the Community Address, a Cumbia Contest, with Southern Scratch closing out the night. Road / vohg trip!


Hot town, summer in the city

Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty


On June 22, 1892, President Benjamin Harrison set aside one square mile of Arizona Territory surrounding the Casa Grande Ruins making it the first prehistoric and cultural reserve established in the United States. (June 21 will be the summer solstice, a key event in the O’odham year.)


Well I called my congressman and he said “Whoa!”

“I’d like to help you son but you’re too young to vote”


On June 2, 1924 Congress passed the American Indian Citizenship Act. Citizenship presumably carried with it the right to vote, but many states, including Arizona, refused. In 1928, GRIC member Peter Porter filed suit but the Arizona Supreme Court ruled against Indians voting. In 1948, Yavapai members Frank Harrison and Harry Austin filed again and the Arizona Supreme Court reversed itself and granted suffrage to Native Americans.


In the summertime when the weather is hot

You can stretch right up and touch the sky


On June 20, 1993, Michael Jordan with his Chicago Bulls beat our Suns in Game 6. We had home court advantage; Dan Majerle, Charles Barkley and the O’otham of the world with the Suns. Chicago took the first two games in Phoenix. The Suns took Game 3, the Bulls game 4 and had a 3-1 series lead. Phoenix took game 5, bringing the series back to Phoenix. In the fourth quarter, we had the Bulls by the horns, we were up 98-96. But a pass to unguarded John Paxon let him bury a 3 pointer with 3.9 seconds left. The Bulls hung on winning their third-straight title. It was a dark night on the rez.


Nobody on the road

Nobody on the beach

I feel it in the air

The summer’s out of reach

Empty lake, empty streets


Information was gleaned from various sites, songs by Eddie Cochran, Loving Spoonful, Seals and Croft, Mungo Jerry and Don Henley.