Indigenous Youth Summit 2008 - 'Cultivating Unity for Mother Earth'

Youth summit participants work with wool to make felted purses during one of the many workshops featured at the Cultivating Unity for Mother Earth: 2008 Indigenous Youth Summit at Hopi. The three day summit featured workshops and lectures geared toward gaining awareness about contemporary social and environmental issues, traditional knowledge and cultural awareness.<br>
<i>Photos and story by
Rosanda Suetopka Thayer
Special to the Observer</i>

Youth summit participants work with wool to make felted purses during one of the many workshops featured at the Cultivating Unity for Mother Earth: 2008 Indigenous Youth Summit at Hopi. The three day summit featured workshops and lectures geared toward gaining awareness about contemporary social and environmental issues, traditional knowledge and cultural awareness.<br> <i>Photos and story by Rosanda Suetopka Thayer Special to the Observer</i>

The Cultivating Unity for Mother Earth: 2008 Indigenous Youth Summit, brought together youth from across the nation for three days on the Hopi Reservation. There were approximately 160 students ranging in age from age 6 to age 23 who attended the conference each day. Students came from the Hopi and Navajo tribes as well as Tesuque Pueblo, White Mountain Apache, San Carlos Apache, Tohono Odham, Mohawk and the Zuni Tribe among others.

Workshops for the students featured silkscreening, Hopi traditional knowledge, Hopi-Mayan Connections by Mario Hernandez (aka "Volton"), climate change workshops, two-dimensional artwork presented by the Artist's Collective of Native Movement (who produced a wall sized mural), a visit to a traditional Hopi field that focused on dry-land farming practices (hosted by Leonard Talaswaima), Hopi herbal remedies, Hopi Wellness Center aerobics presentation, diabetes prevention and awareness, stenciling, Hopi Emergency Medical Services' Wellness checks, plant walk/herbal remedies (by Winter Sun), and a straw bale bench-table building project lead by Derrick Terry from Tloh Kin for Hotevilla Village's Youth and Elder Center Building.

The projects were completed over the three day event and ended with a community dinner hosted by the organizers and catered by David Pecusa, followed by two spectacular musical performances featuring DJ Kiss from Shiwi Sound of Zuni, N.M., who was recently rated the number one DJ in New Mexico and a live performance by Hopi's own Casper and the Mighty 602 Band. The Hopi Tribe's Cultural Preservation office had two of its staff members (LeWayne Lomayestewa and Donald Dawahongnewa) giving information on Hopi traditional subjects.

Janek Katenay, Navajo, is a Cultivating Unity for Mother Earth participant who lives in Flagstaff and works at the New Start Garden with the Urban Lifeways Project under the direction of Brett Ramey. He wanted to experience the Hopi reservation and assist where he could in doing something positive along with other students from other tribes during his summer vacation.

Katenay said he really hopes that the summit will get future funding so he can get other Native students who live in urban settings, like himself, to come to the Hopi reservation and learn cultural and environmentally sensitive ways to deal with everyday issues and topics.

Inspirational verbal support came formally from Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa and the newly crowned 2008-09 Miss Hopi-Kiara Pahoveama and her first attendant Megan Jenkins with second attendant Jody Timms on hand to talk with the students throughout the event.

The Cultivating Unity for Mother Earth summit was coordinated by Gabe and Somana Yaiva, Lilian Hill and Jacobo Marcus-Carranza and Evon Peter all working together from their varied organizations all operating out of Native Movement from Flagstaff, Hotevilla and Kykotsmovi.

Chelsea Chee, Campus Climate Challenge Coordinator for Black Mesa Water Coalition said, "I learned so much from this summit. The ... concert with Hopi's own Casper was the most fun I have had in the past two years."

For more information about the Indigenous Youth Summit, call (928) 221-6435 or e-mail somana@4went.com.

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