Nature Club visits Tohono O’odham Cultural Center

Ginny Berkey and Annie Maud

Over a dozen Nature Club members drove far past Sells to the Tohono O’Odham Cultural Center and Museum for a tour of the new facility. We visited the museum portion before settling down to watch an interesting slide show about the center from the selection of the location to the architects’ understanding of the tribe’s vision.

All I can say is I felt like a Tohono child sitting with my grandfather as our host wove stories about the museum from dream to completion with tales of his people and memories of his childhood.

We spent two hours that flew by listening to Bernard Siquieros’ soft voice. He shared so many facets of his life; the foods he grew up with and how they are harvested, his memories of boarding school in Phoenix and his passion for the current cultural center as an impetus to bring his people together. He spoke of the troubles his people have suffered over their history, from the early Spanish invaders to the US military, to the settlers’ land grabs, to our government injustices.

There are still problems today, as elders without birth certificates are denied citizenship and tribal members are separated by the border as the reservation spans two countries.

The day left us so much more aware of the many problems these neighbors face and their dedication to improving the lives and cultural knowledge of their people.