Hotevilla Village Youth Program builds self-esteem, heightens sense of family values with community conscious projects

Hotevilla Village summer youth students refurbished community bulletin information boards. Photos/Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

Hotevilla Village summer youth students refurbished community bulletin information boards. Photos/Rosanda Suetopka Thayer

HOTEVILLA, Ariz. - It is a huge undertaking to plan a successful summer youth community program that will excite and keep kids interested while also providing meaningful projects that truly help, enhance and build stronger minds, higher self-esteem and family values. Not to mention strengthening the native community.

But Hotevilla Village Youth Program coordinator Melody Wytewa and her summer assistant Natalie Brady are working with summer youth, ages 7 to 19, to do just that. And they still have six weeks to go.

In late May and June, the students collected bottle lids and soda tabs for the Hopi Cancer Program. The cancer program recycles the bottle lids and soda tabs to help Hopi cancer clients pay for rehabilitative services. It went so well that the students want to continue the project as a year-round activity.

Along with the community and art related projects, Wytewa and Brady also arranged for the students to hear formal presentations on issues like bullying. They invited Brenda Patterson from the Hopi Paangni' Guidance Center at Second Mesa to show the students how to identify bullying issues, how to effectively deal with these issues, and how to prevent them from happening within their schools and homes during a one day workshop at their village youth building.

The students also cleaned up trash and picked up stray cans from around the village before the first Kachina dance to help the village look a lot cleaner for the weekend.

In June, one of the more creative art projects they completed was to stabilize and paint three of the local village information bulletin boards with Hopi related art.

The students, along with one of the adult male village workers, first stabilized and retrenched the posts that hold the three village bulletin boards that are located throughout the village. One of these bulletin boards is located where a public main village water spigot is since many of the more traditionally built homes in Hotevilla still do not have running water in their houses. While village members fill their buckets or containers with water they can also read the latest in village activities or public events on the bulletin board.

The students also work on photo art, butterfly mobiles and paper stained glass art and Pinatas made with balloons two days a week The projects are currently displayed in the village building computer lab.

The students also worked on an essay project called "My Role Model." The students thought of and wrote about a role model in their lives.

Two of the Hotevilla students shared their thoughts about who their role models are. Kayah Roy, from the Rabbit-Tobacco clan, age 17, and Ayen Talashoma, from the Badger-Butterfly clan, age 9.

Roy named her mother Sandra Suhu, her So'ohs and her Kya'ahs as her role models for being "strong Hopi women" and showing her that "no matter what, you must survive and keep going, that you will be stronger for enduring difficulties."

Roy said that she has seen firsthand, her mom, who is single and self-employed, sacrifice and work long hours with her art to provide for her and her twin sister. Roy said she is also very aware of how much work it is to be a Hopi woman and that her So'ohs and her Kya'ahs all work so hard, especially during traditional activities.

"I just really appreciate them all," said Roy.

Talashoma said he picked both his Kwa'ah Ramson Lomatewaima and his So'oh Jessica Lomatewaima. "I see my Kwa'ah and my So'oh work hard everyday, whether it's at their art and teaching or just household or field work," Taleshoma said. "My Kwa'ah took the time to teach me how to drive the tractor and how to shoot my BB-gun and he also used to take the time to read to me, now I can read to myself. My So'oh also helps me and my brother so much, they both raised us when my mom wasn't around, they never let us go without things. My Kwa'ah is really adventurous, he encourages us to be independent and to depend on ourselves to solve our own problems. They are really special."

The Hotevilla students took on a bigger project this year as well. They planted a garden at the Hotevilla traditional garden area located on the mesa edge spring irrigated area. They planted watermelon, bush beans, four colors of Hopi corn and sweet corn. They hope to reap a big harvest this coming October and then sponsor a traditional Hopi meal for their elders and community members using their crops.

In June, Hotevilla Village Youth also played host to a one-day youth exchange with another student youth program from the village of First Mesa-Walpi. Twenty-four Walpi village students came for the day to play traditional games, exchange ideas and work on joint projects. All the students shared lunch at Hotevilla village community building.

The Hotevilla youth program also was able to include a culinary project directed by professional Hopi chef Milland Lomayestewa. He showed the students how to make fruit smoothies and how to make their own organic pizzas.

Wytewa and Brady also provide Hopi culture and language classes for their students. Remolda Crooke, a retired teacher, puts on Hopi focused classes on Tuesday and Thursday.

Students in the Hotevilla Summer Youth Program are Amare Kayquaptewa-Bamboo clan, Robert Kayquaptewa-Bamboo clan, Ira Talashoma-Badger/Butterfly clan, Ayen Talashoma-Badger/Butterly clan, Cierra Brady-Spider clan, Kayah Roy-Rabbit/Tobacco, Aurie Roy-Rabbit/Tobacco, Aleea Tenakhongva-Greasewood/Roadrunner clan, Araya Tenakhongva-Greasewood/Roadrunner clan, Larren Masayesva-Rabbit/Tobacco clan, Austin Masayesva-Rabbit/Tobacco clan, Shantelle Smiley-Water Flowing Together (Navajo clan), Shanelle Smiley-Water Flowing Together (Navajo clan) and Terrance Scott -Mexican clan (Navajo-Hopi).

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