The Tohono Oodham have resided on their land since time began. Before history was written, these people are known as the Hohokam, around 1100ad, ballcourts hosted games involved the first rubber ball, players wore pads for protection, but losers are thought to have lost their heads as well as their wager. Things have changed, the Tohono Oodham today are reviving their Toka Tournaments, very popular in the 1800’s, it is a women’s game and the “Toka field” is off limits to men. It begins with a gathering of all the women who with their mesquite sticks stand in the circle and sing their cultural song sung only by women, only for the Toka. Then Toka takes a turn toward hockey or lacrosse, two eight women teams, face off and the referee drops a puck-like two wood cylinders tyed together, which allows the sticks to hook it and fling it down field toward goal. GOAL…player picks up puck after goal
Two things you need to know now, the dust can be blinding, and there are no sidelines…which means if you are watching, you are in-play. Blinded by the dust, you may be between the players and the goal, and I saw many spectators chased. I stepped in a gopher hole and took a dirt bath, the safe place was behind the goal. The “Strong Women” team (light blue) says they are just a bunch of friends from all parts of the Nation and they banded together as a team, the other team was mostly San Xavier players, so it varies whether teams reflect regions rather than dream teams. Before the contest, each team approaches the shrine where they leave their traditional wager, shell beads or Gatoraide which the winner picks up after the contest. Throughout the morning the teams battled up and down the field, trading off victories and women enjoying the coming together and the competition. The Topawa Cultural Museum Toka Tournament was the 8th since December. Game prep had placed fencing around saguaros and trees so important and dangerous desert obstacles were averted from play.
Editors Note: When I arrived there was a sign which said, “No Photography or Videography”, no teams had yet arrived so I asked the referee and organizer whether that was standard procedure ( is this sacred? ) No, she said, they had not been able to get signed releases from the participants so they put up the sign. (They hadn’t ask) So I said, when the teams arrive do you mind if I ask the teams and their coaches whether they mind if pictures are taken. So as folks arrived, I asked, got permission and no one minded. In fact, a few liked the fact the pictures would be on the internet, so they could see them. I relayed that info to the referee and she said she was going to take down her sign, since permission was given. Mid-morning a fella crossed (no-man’s land) to approach me and tell me he needed to confiscate my camera. Oh yeah, why? He said there was a sign up saying no photography. I took the high road and pointed out I had permission from the coaches, players and organizers, pointing out the referee who okayed my photography. He then got rude, said, “just listen, there is no photography” he said, “that is what the museum is all about” he concluded. I’m not sure what he meant, but since I had all the photos I needed, I left. Remember, there is always some guy like that who is puffed up with his own self-importance, so never surrender your camera, hang on to your flash card also. It is always good to talk with your subject and respect traditions and get their permissions so when pointless stuff like this happens, you know it is his problem and not yours. Lessons learned ? If photographing on the reservation it often helps to call ahead and ask if photography is allowed, regardless of what you are told, situations may vary and in all cases just respect individual rights.
SOUTHWESTPHOTOBANK.COM TOKA TOURNAMENT GALLERY…
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THE MONUMENT FIRE SEEN FROM 7th STREET IN SIERRA VISTA.
THE BORDER WILDFIRE THAT HAS GROWN TO MONSTER SIZE IN HIGH WINDS AND HAS THREATENED HOMES AND BUSINESSES IN SIERRA VISTA, still cannot be turned and today threatens high-end homes in the southern Arizona community. High winds have allowed the mountain-sized-fire pretty much to come and go as it pleases and has burned more than fifty homes-more than those destroyed by the huge Wallow Fire which has cleared a half million acres of Northern Arizona and is now burning into New Mexico.
ARMY CARGO LANDS AT SIERRA VISTA MUNICIPAL AIRPORT ON RUNWAYS SHARED BY LIBBY FIELD AND WILDFIRE AIR SUPPORT
NORTH CALIFORNIA HELITEC CREW HEAD OUT TO FIGHT FIRE.
The 50,000 acre man caused Monument Fire is marginally contained and new firefighters and equipment arrive daily as freed from other fire assignments elsewhere in the Southwest, the Monument fire is becoming the fire to stop as bigger fires reach some containment. Livestock and wildlife has been burned out by the southern Arizona blaze and hundreds of pets and people have been evacuated from the path of the blaze which has jumped back and forth across AZ State Route 92 which is now closed south of Sierra Vista. Further south homes and businesses have burned from high winds early in the week and the Arizona National Guard has been sent into those area to prevent looting, and to protect private properties.
Gabby with her mother, Gloria …
These photographs released 6/12/2011 by Gabrielle Giffords (DAZ) are the first images of the Congresswomen since the January 8th Shooting in Tucson Arizona. Giffords was wounded in the mass shooting at a Northwest Tucson Shopping Center which took the lives of six people, including a 9 year-old girl and a federal judge who had stopped by to say hi, 13 people were wounded including Gabby. Giffords has had numerous operations and is now in rehabilitation recovering in Houston Texas. Gabby says she is working hard every day to get home to Tucson Arizona…
UPDATE GABBY’S FIRST TUCSON VISIT 6/18/2011 SINCE JAN 8TH SHOOTING…MANY MORE TO COME
Background of the photographer
The photos were taken by P.K. Weis of http://www.SouthwestPhotoBank.com. He has worked as a photojournalist in the Southwest for about four decades. He worked at the Tucson Citizen for 36 years, including 30 as photo editor, until the paper closed in 2009. Weis has known Congresswoman Giffords for more than a decade, since before she was first elected to the Legislature.
The photos were taken May 17 at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital, the day after the launch of Endeavour and the day before she had her cranioplasty.
Statement by the photographer
“Any photographer in the country would have loved the opportunity to take these pictures and I was delighted to be asked. I’ve known Gabby for more than a decade and they asked me to do it because they wanted someone who was not a stranger to the congresswoman – someone she would be comfortable around. The photos were taken in her room and in an outside area of the hospital.
“In addition to the congresswoman, her mother, one of her staff members and a close friend were there. Doctors and nurses also came in and out.
“It was very inspiring to see how much she had recovered in 4½ months. I was excited to see her and to see her smile. She was glad to see me, was in a good mood, smiling and laughing and seemed to enjoy the experience. I certainly did, too.
HOMELAND SECURITY IS WORKING TOWARD GREATER TRANSPARENCY
ALONG THE NOGALES BORDER WALL
Homeland Security Agents seek greater protection from Border Bandits
A $12 Million project to replace nearly 3 miles of fencing running through Nogales between the American State of Arizona and the Mexican State of Sonora will allow Border Patrol Agents to see who is attacking them and from where. Pelting Homeland Security Trucks with Rocks has become a strategy used to get agents to move on so someone or something can move across the border. Agents fearing for their lives and their vehicles have been armored over with grating capable of protecting the agent and his vehicle, they have firing ports that allow the agent to return fire when a life is endangered. The new fence will allow the now-armored agents to find their attackers and marginalize their impact, calling in backup.
Meanwhile, the new wall project which began in March, on both ends of the city-working inward-is scheduled to be completed in mid-July by Granite Construction who received the bid. Granite in working with the U.S. Corps of Engineers who has hired security contractors armed with less than lethal pepperball guns to provide protection for Granite employees and their equipment. Meanwhile, the projects runs through the two country city of Nogales, so both Nogales Sonora and Nogales Arizona have police on the scene providing international security and early Wednesday morning the Sonora Police stopped everything while they powwowed with their Arizona counterparts and various representatives from the Corp of Engineers and the Border Patrol.
The metal is dropped across the border by a front loader and pickup trucks, stop and load it up and quickly clears the right of way.
Apparently Mexicans were attaching chains to the fence and pulling away mesh which they were selling as scrap metal and they were working ahead of the destruction on the US side and Sonora wanted to know if Arizona was aware of this situation. Apparently they were, Mexico appears to have gotten the bid to recycle the Border Wall, the wall which US citizens paid between $400,000 to $4.5M a mile and averages $2.8M is being scrapped in Mexico. If the initial costs is not metal, what else could it be?, erection?, oops, construction costs?) Because the new wall extends 8′-10′ beneath the surface officals hope this will serve as a deterrent to tunneling beneath the wall in the downtown Nogales area. The Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector has 71 miles of pedestrian fence, up from 11 miles in 2000. There is 183 miles of vehicle barriers, up from two miles in 2000. The Border Patrol hopes to replace sections of the old landing-mat fence in Douglas and Naco, AZ. The old landing-mat fences were erected in mostly urban stretches of the U.S.-Mexico border during the mid-1990s by Border Patrol agents using surplus government materials. The new fence has been erected with new materials by construction companies paid millions by the federal government. The US spent $2.4 billion on 264 miles of pedestrian fencing and 226 miles of vehicle barriers between 2004-2009. At $4.14 million per mile, the Nogales fence-replacement project will cost an estimated $6.5 billion to deploy, operate and maintain the fence over its estimated 20 year life.
Old Fence shows years of patching
In 1907, President Roosevelt set apart as a public reservation all public lands within 60-feet of the international boundary between the United States and Mexico within the State of California and the Territories of Arizona and New Mexico. Known as the “Roosevelt Reservation,” this land withdrawal was found necessary for the public welfare as a protection against the smuggling of goods. NEW YORK TIMES BORDER TOPIC PAGE CLICK HERE
This video gets lots of interest in light of America’s investment in Border Fence. Don’t forget, Arizona’s Governor now wants to build a second wall.
THE OTHER SIDE OF IMMIGRATION ….
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UPDATE: DRUG SMUGGLERS tunnel under new fence and directly to 25 cent parking meters where false-bottomed cars are loaded from below while drivers shop and then drive home with a new shipment of drugs from Mexico. Homeland Security found 16 new tunnels leading to parking meters. The meters have been removed....CBS Story Link