POLACCA, Ariz. - A week-long "2009 Sober Challenge Week" event held during spring break was recently hosted by Hopi health educators from the Hopi Health Care Center. Samantha Honani, along with Maxine Wadsworth, newly appointed coordinator for HAASA (Hopis Against Alcohol and Substance Abuse) were there along with their reservation area school partners, substance abuse counselors and local health care professionals.
The HAASA organization is a collective community group made up of several community health providers along with local community volunteers founded in March 2008. The purpose of HAASA, according to their brochure, is to, "reclaim our cultural traditions" to help heal and foster healthy communities. Over 600 participants were a part of this challenge week.
The HAASA event was kicked off with a live musical performance evening at Second Mesa Day School, two days of community and student workshops at the Hopi Veterans' Memorial Center and a relay run from Keams Canyon to Moencopi for everyone in the community who wanted to participate
Honani asked all of the performers at the Monday night event to donate their artistic time for their usual paid performances, hoping to show that their individual talent was in harmony with positive community sobriety. Each of the performers gladly complied with Honani's request, saying they were proud to support a drug and alcohol free reservation event.
HAASA, a grassroots organization, was originally formed with the idea that the local Hopi community needed assistance to address the concerns of alcohol and substance abuse, including real solutions to questions about rehabilitation and local behavioral health counseling.
Monday night's headline act "James and Ernie" were accompanied by musical acts such as YAIVA, Jay Nez, Moontee Sinquah, Smoke RIngs, Tewa Boys and Eagle Boy. In addition were 2008-2009 Miss Hopi Kiara Pahovama and First Attendant Jody Timms, speaker Reginald Mitchell and emcees Bruce Talawyma and Clark Tenakhongva, known locally as the "Hot-vela Donkey Boys"
Samantha Honani, co-organizer of the event stated, "It was really rewarding to see the huge turnout for this event. It shows that our local community is not only aware of substance [abuse] problems, but are actively looking for real and meaningful solutions ... It was heartening to know that we are doing this in partnership with our own Hopi people."
One workshop that held a lot of interest was the Hopi traditional customs and lifeways booth, manned by Donald Dawahongnewa of the Hopi Tribe's Cultural Preservation Program. Judging from the attendance at his booth, there is obvious and genuine interest from the community in learning more about Hopi tradition and teachings.
Younger students enjoyed the booth that Miss Hopi- Kiara Pahovama assisted with. This booth allowed them to draw what values or activites are important and put those on a colorful chart that showed the four colors of Hopi corn on a stalk.
To reinforce Hopi values about sharing and eating healthfully, a communal traditional meal was also served to the participants during both days of the workshops.
To find out more about HAASA's educational outreach and assistance, call (928) 734-7139.