District 6 Gathering continues preservation of O’otham Indigeneity

October 20, 2023


Velia Moncada

Gila River Indian News


The Gila River Indian Community celebrated American Indian Day on the third Friday in Sept. This year saw it land on Sept. 15, where Districts celebrated in their own unique ways to commemorate their Indigenous pride. The District 6 Service Center hosted several days of Community History, O’otham Language Bingo, traditional food cooking, learning of traditional singing and dancing, and social activities on Sept. 21, 22, 27 and 28, which culminated to their final social gathering in Kalka Park on Sept. 30, for GRIC members to learn more about their O’otham Himdag. 


Denise Jackson, Recreation Coordinator, palnned the District 6 Social Gathering with encouragement from a Community elder, to incorporate O’otham culture. “I was told this way began with our ancestors and should be how we treat each other; with love, care and sharing” she said in an interview with the GRIN.  


Mike Tashquinth, District 6, and Barbara Parsons, District 6, gave lessons on Sept. 21 to Community members about how the villages in the District 6 area came to be and the first families who were here. Both elders said to those in attendance, “learn the language and the O’otham Himdag, if you don’t the outside world is ready to take our land away; it is important to our identity as tribal members and to keep the land.”


On Sept. 21, Jackson and Parsons hosted O’otham Language Bingo using O’otham words and phrases. 


Cooking of traditional food was presented by Jasper Pilone, Tohono O’odham Nation, teaching how to make, Wiscojula (Sweet Cookies) and chumath making was taught by Cheyanne Jackson, District 6, on Sept. 27.


Hunter Nish, District 2, assisted with tradition singing and dancing demonstrations on Sept. 28., followed by sharing of bird singing and dancing by Jeffrey Thomas, from Parker, Arizona and Gaberiel Olmedo, from Lehi, Arizona with Bird Dancer Janie Foulke, District 7.


The full slate of activities led to the larger event on Sept. 30, beginning with basket dancers and social songs, along with samples of traditional foods such as Gaivsa (ground Corned Soup), O’otham Poshol (Soup of wheat berries, brown tepary beans, and meat), Skov chumath (lazy man’s bread), and samples of melons. Bird Singing and Dancing was also on display throughout the gathering.  Also, songs from Peach Springs, Arizona was shared by Sterling Selana.  The evening concluded with a giveaway dance with plenty of goodies to give thanks to all that attended to celebrate the O’otham Himdag.