AOPPYC Hosts O’odham New Year Gathering

Velia Moncada

Gila River Indian News



O’odham New Year, celebrated around the summer solstice, marks the beginning of the new year to the O’odham. This year’s festivities occurred at the Sacaton Fairgrounds on Saturday, June 15 from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. hosted by the Akimel O’odham/ Pee-Posh Youth Council (AOPPYC).


“O’odham New Year isn’t necessarily held a specific day, it’s more so celebrating the season changing and the summer solstice,“ said AOPPYC President, Junior Pancott, from District 2.


AOPPYC Coordinator, Joseph Davis, explains that this period coincides with the arrival of the much anticipated summer rains, bringing renewal and hope to the desert landscape.


Central to the celebration are traditional social dances, Community members gather to perform meaningful steps, praying and reflecting their deep cultural heritage to the land.


“It feels good, as you’re dancing you feel connected with who we are as O’odham,” said Miss Gila River, Susanna Osife, from District 2. She illustrates the gathering as an open space for learning, sharing and expressing the O’odham Himadag (way of life)


Gourd singers, from the Community and from the Onk- Akimel O’odham (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community) sing with their gourd instruments creating rhythmic and soulful music accompanying the dances.


“It’s a good feeling to come out and feel the ground, the Jeved, the earth, to dance and feel it in your feet, to keep your walk right,” said Community member, Ana Joaquin, from District 5. She says she has had the honor of hosting and participating in previous O’odham New Years with her Va-hki Basket dancers and singers. As time goes on she encourages youth and elders to attend whenever they can because it’s a part of the O’odham Himdag. 


A highlight of the O’odham New Year is the giveaway dance where household items donated by the Communication and Public Affairs Office (CPAO), were distributed to participants who held on to dancers holding the item, as they danced in tricky motions and steps without letting go, until the dancer decides to stop. This tradition emphasizes generosity, and fostering a spirit of unity and communal support.


Food was provided by the Sunna Famliy food business for the evening, meanwhile Gila River EMS was on standby at the event, ensuring safety to the celebration.


Through these rituals, the O’odham honor their ancestors, celebrate nature’s cycles, and strengthen their Community bonds.