HONEY BEE PIT HOUSE CONSTRUCTION MAPS OUT THE HOHOKAM’S LIFE WAYS AT STEAM PUMP RANCH IN ORO VALLEY EXPANDING THE PREHISTORIC RECORD !
Allen Denoyers is building a Hohokam village on Tucson’s northwest side. Visitors to Oro Valley’s historic
Steam Pump Ranch can crawl between two wood uprights and find themselves transported back to 900 AD. The southwest archaeologist has propelled his career by taking prehistoric technology into his hands and by learning from the past and teaching his students what life was like a thousand years ago. Denoyers passion for the past has taken many different forms, since junior high school, the self-taught flintknapper has created knifes, axes, spears, atlatls and now prehistoric pit houses. Archaeology Southwest, a local archaeology research firm, where Denoyer works, has long been responsible for expanding the prehistoric record by their survey of endangered sites and filling in the holes of existing knowledge about the folks who once lived here in the Sonoran Desert. So when Denoyer built his first pilot pit house, he was working from the knowledge gained from the past century of southwest archaeology and in partnership with the Town of Oro Valley and the Oro Valley Historical Society. In truth, most of what is known about the Hohokam pit house are the holes in the ground left behind by the wood uprights stuck in the ground centuries ago. The roofing, side and interior of these homes today are modeled on historic homes of the Hohokam descendents that today, are known as the Tohono O’odham and Pima people, of Southern Arizona.
When Hurricane Norbert dropped four inches of rain on Oro Valley last September, swelling washes to ten feet deep in places and requiring local fire and police to rescue motorists from swollen washes and flooded roadways. Loads of mud sloughed off Denoyers pit house completely filling it with water. That’s when the learning began for Archaeology Southwest who figured 40-50 percent of the mud was lost. Mud from the upper portions of the walls washed away or slumped in. The roof actually stayed relatively intact, with losses mostly confined to the edges. “But we don’t see this as a tragedy—in fact, we’repretty excited about what we’re learning, Denoyer points out in the Archaeology Southwest blog. “Remember that we built this as the first stage in a series of experiments, and now we have more information. If southern Arizona’s pit house dwellers had built their structures just like ours, then a rain like this would have been devastating—most dwellings in a village would have been affected. It is possible that Hohokam pit houses had more thatching, or that the relative proportions of materials in our mud mixture need to be adjusted, or both. Now we’re designing the next stage of experiments to test these possibilities.” These pit houses were pretty stuffy after the monsoons begin, maybe when rain opens them up, instead of re-mudding they laid thatch mats over the new openings allowing air to circulate. Perhaps we need more thatching or interior support and possibly a different mixture of water and mud, to better combat the elements. Getting the moisture content of the earth just right is a real art, “I love the sound of the mud”, says Denoyer as he applies a rock to the wet surface smoothing it and creating a slick surface. “Floating the mud gives it a sheen and when the rain hits-it just rolls off.” “It really doesn’t take all that much work”, he says of pit house construction, “five or six people working together could finish in a couple of days”. “I love digging, screening earth, being out here all day. I’m so lucky so many people hate their work. At the end of the day, you can step back and appreciate what you accomplished.”
Archaeology Southwest has taken the next step to learn from the past, under the tutelage of Denoyer, the
research firm is offering several ongoing workshops, where participants will learn the basics of pit house construction as archaeologists have learned from excavations. Denoyer will lead participants through the construction process, from excavation of the house pit to creating the superstructure, putting each student hands-on with traditional tools and materials. Through this work, Archaeology Southwest hopes to add detail to archaeological knowledge of how these structures were made by ancient people. Workshop sessions take place at Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley. Each session will last for three hours. Initial sessions will be dedicated to repairing rain-damages to the 2014 pit house. After that pit house is restored, participants will create small test pit houses that will enable us to compare how slightly different methods and materials respond to time and weather. Class Dates: Friday 3/6/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm – $40.00, Friday 3/13/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm, Friday 4/10/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm, Thursday 4/16/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm, Friday 4/24/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm -classes are for participants 18 years and older, there is a $40.00 charge.
ONE STUDENTS IMPRESSIONS ON THE HANDS-ON PIT HOUSE CLASS
Denoyer has based the pit houses his classes are building on homes found in Honey Bee Village, an Oro Valley
Hohokam site, the 32 acres excavated by Henry Wallace, in 1986, his study turned up more than 2000 features, including 100’s of pit houses, a large plaza and a small ball court which established Honeybee as the economic center of several villages situated along the Canada del Oro River. The ball court Wallace believes was based on the Mesoamerican ball game, played with a rubber ball batted around with paddles perhaps resembling those used today in ping pong. The ball game, Wallace believes, was an “integrative tool” to bring folks together and exchange goods creating a “large trade fair”, around 800 AD, in the village’s center plaza. The larger excavation of the Tortolita foothills was undertaken by Desert Archaeology because of the advancing bulldozers for the development of the 5000 acre Rancho Vistoso housing project that today has covered over or bull-dozed many other sites right off the face of the earth. Honeybee’s sister site the larger “Sleeping Snake”, where “not much is left” says Wallace of the site now covered by a golf course. So when Wallace got to Honey Bee, the archaeologist trenched the village core and conducted a systemic shed collection, learning a lot about the residents of the 100’s of homes characterized by large oblong holes in the ground encircled by holes left by the pole uprights supporting the pit house village. Wallace believes the life of a pit house was 15-20 years and believed Honey Bee which was a “great place of ak-chin farming” said Wallace of the wide flood plain along Big Wash. It never supported more than a 100 people at any given time, saying the village’s population was “between 40-90 people at any given time” and that Honey Bee” was not alone but part of something larger”. Denoyer points out supplies were limited and not everyone could build a pit house whenever they wanted. “They wouldn’t pull out the plants”. which grew along side of the Canada del Oro River which provided weep willows, for the necessary wall and roof support, for the Hohokam pit house, instead “they would cut the plant and it would grow back the next year” and more homes could then be built. Carbon 14 dating has placed some of the wood found around 1050 AD, and Wallace feels the wood was carried a great distance, climbing into the Catalina Mountains and carrying it many miles home. There was a lot of competition for building supplies, Honey Bee was far from alone along the CDO, notably the Romero Ruin now protected in Catalina State Park and Rooney Ranch site was bulldozed, and now is named after a shopping center. There were fifty pit houses and the bulldozers had entire pots rolling down the hillside, along with burials from between 700AD to 1380AD. One pit house had an altar at one end, where a bighorn sheep’s lower jaw was found buried shows a large populations lived along along this stream and visited the high country to hunt and possibly worship. Henry Wallace believes the Catalina high lands brought spirituality to the Hohokam people, “so it was important to bring a piece into your home,” speaking of the large ridge poles carried from the mountain.
Today, archaeologist study a rich rock art site, surrounding the “easiest path to high altitude” up the Catalina Sutherland Ridge. In November 1949, a hunter’s foot broke through the earth’s crust and Ray Romo peered into the past. The broken ground revealed a Hohokam pot cupped over another larger pot, inside were 25 copper bells and a 100,000 beads, Emil Haury and Carol Gifford speculated that the Romo Cache was an offering to insure the welfare of a village. The beads weighed 3.5 pounds, some are made of steatite or talc. These are black. Some are of a ferruginous aphanitic matrix containing quartz grains. These are red. Some are of chryosolla or turquoise. These are green and blue. A dozen are made from seashells. The black beads make up 40 per cent, the red beads 58 per cent, turquoise beads about 2 per cent. Some have marks, showing they were worn at one time. The bells were all made in Jalisco, more than 1200 miles south in Mexico. Someone carried them here and carefully hide them in these rocks, below you would have seen Honey Bee, the larger Sleeping Snake Village and the Romero village and many more villages laced along the running Canada del Oro stream. Who left it, we can’t say nor do we know why ? Maybe it begged God for his blessing ! After the Aspen fire, lots of pottery showed up, along the pathway up to the Catalinas. Excavations turned up one bell at the Rooney Ranch site, one more bell was found at Honeybee village–whatever the message the Romo cache begged, “in 950 AD, the Tucson villages fragmented”, people were moving away from Honey Bee’s Plaza, “they were moving out”, says Wallace. “There was a drastic and sudden change in 1150.” “Perhaps warefare or environmental change and social divisions created by a hierarchy of people with power living over people,” speculates Wallace. “Not long after this, they are all gone…”
“It’s very sad” Wallace says, “that east ridge is where all the Hohokam houses were–that’s where all those new houses are now.” A coalition of groups recognizing the prehistoric value of the Honey Bee Village proposed a preservation effort about a decade ago. In 2006, Oro Valley and Pima County, through a land donation from Steve Solomon, owner of Canada Vistas Homes, the development company that purchased the land, together created the Honey Bee Village Preserve.
The new preserve was established to protect the large Hohokam Indian community that occupied the site between 700 AD and 1200 AD, according to archeologists. Honey Bee Village is located just north of the intersection of Rancho Vistoso Boulevard and Moore Road. Archeologists have identified the locations of hundreds of pit houses, a ball court, a walled compound and a central compound on the relatively undisturbed site where developers once intended to build the town center for Oro Valley. Preservation of the 13-acre village was possible with the $8 million donation of real estate placed into public trust. “On one hand, we have 13 acres of highly valuable real estate, and on the other hand we have an invaluable prehistoric resource that would be plowed over and lost forever,” said Steve Solomon, owner of Canada Vistas Homes, the development company that had originally purchased the land and donated it.Pima County originally intended to use $1 million in preservation bond funds to purchase the land before its real estate value skyrocketed to $8 million. In exchange for Canada Vistas Homes donation, Pima County conducted an archeological survey of the land around the Honey Bee Village Preserve to collect any artifacts or Indian remains and clear the way for the development of 145 single family homes and 124 luxury condominiums. After the 2008 depression, “the property sat neglected for years” says Loy Neff, with Pima County Sustainability and Cultural Resources.
Today the 13-acre core of Honey Bee Village is now preserved for future generations. The preservecontains most of the large mounds, the ballcourt, the large plaza and the rock-walled enclosure. Access to the Preserve is controlled for preservation and management purposes. A permanent wall was placed on an easement on the adjoining property to avoid disturbance to the Preserve. Public access to Honey Bee Village Archaeological Preserve is along a public easement through the commercial development from Moore Road to the boundary wall gate within the Archaeological Display Area. Limited access to the Preserve by the neighboring residents is through the Archaeological Park, accessible from the Preserve. A public access easement through the residential development allows trail users to access the Preserve through a gate on the northern boundary of the Preserve. Honey Bee Preserve is protected by Arizona state statute, and collection of plants, artifacts, rocks, or any items is strictly prohibited and violators will be prosecuted. Honey Bee Preserve is monitored on a regular basis by Arizona Site Steward volunteers. The remarkable status of Honey Bee Village as the only large intact Hohokam village remaining in Oro Valley area makes it one of the most significant cultural resources in Pima County.
For South West archaeologist, the ubiquitous pit house, clouded the prehistoric picture of ancient man. The Hohokam is now known to be the primary prehistoric agriculturalist of the Sonoran Desert. This ancient man surrounded himself with Mother Earth to protect his family from his harsh environment, like the sun and rain, that fell from the sky or the cold that surrounded them. The pit house has roots in prehistoric times in the arctic, the desert, the mountains, the plains and in woodland areas over a large part of North America west of the Mississippi River. The earth-covered frame house changed slowly in architecture, no two pit houses were exactly alike but their features are typical of homes found in northeast Asia, across the Bering Strait, throughout North America and deep into South America. From the earliest dates, the pit house changed very little, it’s shape evolved from a square, to a rectangular, eventually taking an elliptical shape over the centuries. The Hohokam evolved their oblong pit homes with rounded ends, the front and back wall were parallel and sized approximately 6 meters wide x 3 meters depth.
Archaeologist find pit homes of the Plains cultures as far East as the U.S. southeast in Arkansas, there historical earth lodges of the plains Indian seem identical to the type used by the prehistoric man. Typically the pit house had four central roof supports in early homes, the supports increased later with a side entrance composed of a covered passage-way, inclined from the floor. The floor of well plastered caliche, was built on native soil. The fire pit was a deep basin in the interior with a thick coating of caliche, the rim being flush with the floor. Cross beams, spaced at irregular intervals, held a thatch of twigs and grass, which was covered with caliche. The dirt covering the roof extended down onto the walls, they were plastered and renewed as the need arose.
Many were burned, perhaps as part of a funeral rite ?
Archaeologist believe most villages were economically related through exchange systems, typified by the trading of shell bracelets and jewelry from the Sea of Cortez for cotton textiles from the Salt/Gila canal systems. A larger widespread trade network is suggested by the trade of shell from the Gulf of California, parrots and macaws from Mesoamerica and turquoise from various Arizona locations.
Villages were small with houses centered around plazas. During the Colonial Period AD 775-975 homes are arranged in house clusters or courtyard groups archaeologist Dave Wilcox finds two to four houses arranged with entrances facing a common courtyard and sites generally contain one or more house clusters. Many archaeologist see this as a time of expansion-the Sedentary Period 975-1150 AD saw continued growth of existing settlements and new villages sprang up along rivers and in the open desert. Irrigation canals expanded in the Salt Gila and houses increased in size. Public architecture like ball courts occur now, public architecture including platform mounds became more elaborate, some larger sites had one or more ball courts as well as platform mounds. After 1300 AD everything starts to diminish and withdraw – platform mounds begin to be encircled by adobe walls, the Casa Grande great house was built during the late classical period. Walled terraces or cerro de trencheras, were constructed on steep hillsides, in the Tucson Basin. Extensive agricultural farms are expanded in the desert regions and agave farms are expanded. Bill Doelle and Henry Wallace have argued the Tucson Basin emerged as a regional center during the Classic period, they suggest that cerro del trencheras were defensive and indicate warfare or the threat of warfare between the Tucson Basin and the Salt-Gila Complex (Phoenix). Archaeologist find an increase in site hierarchy along the Salt-Gila and the Tucson basin during the Colonial period. Ball courts were first constructed along the Canada del Oro and served to integrate a number of associated smaller villages within the Hohokam community. By AD 1000, the Hohokam were using all parts of the Tucson Basin, they built their villages along streams and rivers and hunted and gathered in the foothills and mountains.
Experience the ancient art of flintknapping. Join Allen Denoyer for his Hands-On Archaeology class, “How Did People Make and Use Stone Tools?”. In each of these beginner classes, you will use ancient techniques and replica tools to create a stone projectile point. You will also learn more about how people made and used such points, and that points were just one component of a complete hunting technology. The class is for individuals 18 years of age and older and lasts approximately 3 hours. This class will meet at Steam Pump Ranch at 10901 North Oracle Road, Oro Valley, AZ 85737. If you are interested in registering a group of three or more participants, please contact Kathleen Bader by phone at (520) 882-6946 x26 or by email to reserve space for your entire group. Class is Friday 3/20/15 from 9:00am-12:00pm – $40.00
PREHISTORY PHOTO COLLECTION OF PHOTOS CLICK HERE
<a href=” SPANISH TRANSLATIONS:CLICK HERE
SAN CARLOS APACHE MARCH TO OCCUPY OAK FLAT PROMISE A FIGHT TO SAVE THEIR HOLY GROUND FROM THE GREED OF McCAIN, KIRKPATRICK, FLAKE, GOSAR AND THE RESOLUTION COPPER MINE !
Campfire smoke is thick in the morning chill on Oak Flat in the lush 5000′ Arizona high country. Western Apache from all over the state have come together to “occupy” their ancestral homeland and the smell of breakfast drifts across the Flat as members of the San Carlos Apache, White Mountain, Yavapai and Tonto Tribes leave their
warm sleeping bags and meet up around the oak wood fire. There is little said about the planned Resolution Mine that will collapse this spot into a huge hole when their robots have undermined this land. President Eisenhower set aside this treasure by Presidential decree to save America’s unique wild places. Instead talk centers on happier days! Days spent with their mothers, fathers and grandparents, aunts and uncles, the kids and babies, as everyone scurried about harvesting the rich, sweet-tasting acorns which for centuries have been a delicacy of the Apache people and a centerpiece to their ceremonies marking each chapter of their lives, like joyous weddings.
Today some of those beloved relatives are now buried in Gann Canyon, their wakes and funerals where held here in the campground, acorn stew was boiled with meat, into a pancake batter like paste, and served honoring those who have now met their Creator. Many Apache Sunrise ceremonies are held here each summer to celebrate Apache daughters reaching womanhood, accented by the Apache Crown Dancers, twirling and funneling their prayers to God.
Today, Anthony Logan, an Apache medicine man will bless this holy ground beneath them and they will all dance to the drums and pray that God will answer their prayers.
Many will pray the Creator protect Oak Flat from the destruction set in motion by politicians, like Arizona Sen. John McCain, who behind their backs put a land swap into the “must pass” defense spending bill at midnight. The new Republican Senate then passed the $585 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2015…89 to 11. Tucson representative Raúl Grijalva has called this “a grave injustice” and calls this “unjust legislation” be repealed, a motion supported by more than 70 Indian Tribes across the United States who now join him in demanding protection for Oak Flat. The Apache protest began in San Carlos last week when tribal members started a 50 mile march to their sacred holy ground two miles east of Superior, Arizona. In spite of a few blisters, they arrived more than 250 strong supported by Tribal members from all over the U.S.. They filled the campground and Anthony Logan, aka “Rolling Fox”, conducted the “Holy Ground Blessing” ceremony held beneath the mine shafts being constructed by Resolution, a British mining company who wants to undermine the mountain and collapse the entire sacred Mountain into the country’s third largest copper mine to sell the ore to China, leaving the Apache the hole and a compromised water supply. Apache drummers and singers performed sixteen songs blessing the sacred land
and dancers who came to take to back their ancestral land. After the ceremony, the Reverend John Mendez, an internationally recognized civil rights activist, told the crowd that the Apache spiritual movement would move “like a prairie fire”. The fire and brimstone preacher from Emmanuel Baptist Church in North Carolina told the mostly Native American audience, “they can’t stop you, when we unit”. “A people united won’t be stopped. We will not quit, there is nothing that can stop you.” Mendez closes in pray “Father we put all things in your hands, guide us.” “We have to stand up and fight Congress, laws can be made and laws can be changed! John McCain made a big mistake doing this to us said Terry Rambler, present Chairman of the San Carlos Tribe, who gave all tribal employee an administrative day off to join the March.
They put this (land swap) in behind our backs-then they stabbed us in the back.” God blesses the world–he put us here to protect the land and as
long as we put God first–he will fight for us. Apache people were taught to pray and only through prayer will we win. The white man came to America in search of religious freedom but still they deprive the Apache of what is his religious right.” “We are still prisoners-of war” said Wally Davis, chairman of the Tonto Apache speaking of how all Apache had historically been forced marched to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. “This is a message to all Native Americans.” “San Carlos is still a prison,” Davis said.
Apache Leap Mountain gains its name from the Pinal Apache Band who lived in these hills and valley, the rocks still carry rock drawing left from their dreams of successful hunts for deer and mountain sheep, game that filled their stomachs and fueled their children’s futures, their love of the land and their freedom. Fifty of the 1870 band died leaping from the ragged mountain edge as they were surrounded by the United States Cavalry who demanded they return to the reservation in San Carlos, or die by their sabers. They chose to leap instead knowing their God knew best how they should live and die.
Speaking in one voice for Native Americans everywhere, tribal members attended from all over the world and former San Carlos Apache chairman Wensler Nosie announced Thursday February 4th, 2015, to be a historic day as
the Apache once again took the field against the United States of America. “We were pushed here”, we used to roam the entire South West, but we were told to stay on the reservation and extermination was the response when we didn’t. The white man killed our ancestors, my great-grandparents, when they tried to continue their nomadic lifestyle! My mother told me, stay on the reservation-don’t bother those white people outside or they will hurt our people! That was a sickness pressed upon our people by the U.S. government, that ends today, says Nosie, “Today we pray to our God and through God we will win.” Nosie told the 250 people and media assembled outside the Tribal Administration building to begin their march to Apache Leap Mountain which towers over the Arizona community of Superior.
Their voices thundered with emotion Thursday as the San Carlos Apache prepared to march on Oak Flat the words spoken left no doubt that “greedy politicians”, like Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake Representatives Anne Kirkpatrick and Paul Gosar, have worn out their welcome in San Carlos, Arizona or in Indian Country anywhere else in the United States. “The rape of Indian land stops today on this historic day. Oak Flat was a gift from God to the Apache people, may we all be blessed from this day forward,” Nosie told the crowd. “We are spiritually guided today–indigenous people from all over the world are watching our fight”! If America is the World’s Policeman, and this under-handed maneuver is how they treat their native peoples, then what hope do native souls have anywhere.
“They think we are stupid, he said, “but our ancestors are smiling down on us and saying those our children — our educated children! “We want entitlement to our land and reservation, this is a day of healing and through prayer,
we are going to win this! Today we are bringing down the barriers imposed upon us and today we breakout, our children are strong and the abuse from the people outside (the reservation) ends today.
All 2,400 acres of the land swap are part of Apache ancestral and ceremonial lands. So although Republican lawmakers have tried for years to secure the transfer of these lands, they have always run into strong opposition from the San Carlos Apache Tribe and Democratic lawmakers and conservation advocates, so they stole it. If the legislation succeeds, it will allow Resolution Copper Mining Co. to exchange more than 5,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land it owns throughout Arizona for about 2,400 acres of federal land near Superior. The company would develop a 7,000-foot-deep mine there, opening the third-largest undeveloped copper resource in the world.
Councilman Fred Ferreiria from the San Carlos Peridot district says “they gave us this land because no one wanted it — they found minerals — and they took it. If we don’t stop it now — bit by bit they will take it all away again.” We learned the laws and how things are done, we were doing that, and the government broke the rules, we continue this fight, we are here today for our children.” “We have champions in Congress and they will help us “repeal this law” said Ed Norris, chairman of the Tohono Oodham.
The Tonto National Forest is this country’s fifth largest forest and has on average 5.8 million visitors annually.
It was set aside as a national forest back in 1905 in order to protect its watersheds around key reservoirs used by the people of the communities around it which include Phoenix, Flagstaff, Prescott, Snowflake, Winslow and the nearby Apache Reservations. The forest produces an average of 350,000 acre-feet of water each year feeding into Theodore Roosevelt Lake and the Salt River which bisects the national forest running east to west. In 1955 Eisenhower used Public Land Order 1229 to protect parts of Tonto National Forest from the mining industry that wanted to despoil it for profits. Thanks to the work of conservationists over the decades, without a doubt, it is one of the most beautiful unspoiled areas this nation has left…
For 50 years Vonda Cassadore whose grandmother Josephine always brought them camping at Oak Flat, to the very campsite we enjoy today as they prepare breakfast for the Apache protestors. They had fun picking up the acorns and now Cassadore shares that experience with her little grand-daughter Amaee Talgo who is learning the art of baking bread. For today’s breakfast Vonda and her friend, Kris Salaloa, work together to fry bread and tortillas, Theresa Nosie is dishing out the biscuits and gravy, hash browns, bacon and sausage for the hungry, growing
camp of protestors. The Apache Way makes it’s grandma’s duty to teach her grandchildren the traditions of their people. “Since I was a little girl I came here with my mother and now I bring my grandkids says Salaloa, some of these trees are as old as I am and God knew what he was doing when he gave Apache acorns. For Cassadore, today’s memory of watching her mom sitting at the base of the Emory Oak shading them today is still quite vivid. “She would check to make sure we were okay and where we were, “making sure we didn’t get more acorns picked than she did”. Since I was age 3, I started picking up acorns and filling up coffee cans”, they always arrived in July before the monsoons came, the whole family came to pick, the babies would be hung in their cradle boards from the huge Emory Oaks while we searched for acorns. The acorns would be transferred to a glass jar with old levi’s wrapped around the glass and soaked in the cool stream to keep them fresh. Mom would let us run free here around “Grandmother’s Tree” where we camped while they picked plants for the burden baskets and medicinal plants. “Go to the new trees”, she would say, “they have the biggest acorns”.
“This is Apache territory and Oak Flat belongs to the Apache–they took it away from us and we must take it back says Chairman Terry Rambler. I am very proud of my ancestor’s “Apache Pride” we were supposed to be exterminated but we are here today, let’s take over Oak Flat, this is our time to be involved! Apache were slaughtered and killed here–we will fight for the blood of our ancestors. “The chairman continues saying San Carlos Tribal council went on record voting against any copper mine being built upon their land and notes the white people came to this land in search of religious freedom, fleeing persecution, they wanted “to have the ability to pray, we want the same freedom”.”Some people have to visualize something, like a church, a structure to express their love of God, Oak Flat is our church, it is no different today, today is about religious freedom, we need to keep our connection to our God.”
“Oak Flat is our high ground, our mountains are called “weather makers”, they attract snow, it melts and the water flows in the four sacred directions. It flows to the Gila River, Queen Creek, the Salt River it makes the water that flows to us–it is the giver of Life and when Resolution Mine drill a mile deep making a hole a thousand times the size of a professional football stadium, it will subside and cave in–it will change the water.” All our medicinal plants will go away… We followed all the rules for ten years, we were winning and they put in a rider which made it hard for the legislature to say no. So without public input they passed this bill…”
When thunderstorms hit in this region, the mountains are where water is deposited before it flows downward toward the streams, rivers, underground aquifers and lakes. The water from the Oak Flat area continues eastward underground and flows down from the Pinal Mountains into Gilson Wash, then into the San Carlos River onward to the Gila River before it reaches San Carlos Lake. Our water is precious and limited. Resolution Copper Company will poison our waters and drain our aquifers.
“We are not going to give up, it’s because of our children–our children’s children…we must fight this land deal!
White Mountain Apache Kay Lewis, a former tribal judge, wearing yellow pollen on his cheek noted Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick was raised on the WMA reservation where her father made his living from a Trading Post selling to the
Apache and “she should know better”. “I was surprised”, Lewis noted, Apache are Democratic voters and they supported Kirkpatrick in her last successful re-election.”She used the Apache! She should know the Apache values, traditions, customs and ceremonies and she did not speak up for the Tribe on this land. The Apache are really done with her !” Signs proclaims “AZ. TRIBES BEWARE OF KIRKPATRICK”, “DON’T UNDERMINE OUR SACRED LANDS”, black teeshirts say “PROTECT SACRED OAK FLAT”, “YOU CAN’T GIVE AWAY LAND THAT ISN’T YOURS TO GIVE” “SAVE,PROTECT AND OCCUPY OAK FLAT — NO LAND EXCHANGE, NO COPPER MINE !
Sandra Rambler says if bulldozers show up on Oak Flat, I will stand in front of them and “they can bulldoze me if they want…I am all in !” says the sister of Chairman Rambler.
“It will be a great devastation, I don’t want our ancestors graves disturbed, my daughter had her Sunrise Ceremony on Oak Flat, if these laws can be made and they can be changed! We want justice for the Apache people, we are educated not stupid, they brought us here and made promises now broken, we are too smart to let this happen again!” Rambler says. “I have ancestors who fought for the U.S. Army, who weren’t given the right to vote until 1948”, even though Native Americans were given the right to vote on June 2nd, 1924, but because of some state law, Indians were not allowed the vote until 1947 except for Arizona and New Mexico who finally dropped their prohibition in 1948 because of legal rulings. Three main arguments for Indian voting exclusion were Indian exemption from real estate taxes, maintenance of tribal affiliation and the notion that Indians were under guardianship, or lived on lands controlled by federal trusteeship.
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar’s reference to American Indians as “wards of the federal government” following a discussion about the controversial Arizona land deal that opens the door for the country’s third largest copper mine. The Arizona Republican in responding to concerns from Phil Stago of the White Mountain Apache Tribe when he made the comment that stunned people at a December round-table talk in Flagstaff, as well as Indians all across the United States.”He kind of revealed the truth — the true deep feeling of the federal government: ‘Tribes, you can call yourselves sovereign nations, but when it comes down to the final test, you’re not really sovereign because we still have plenary authority over you,'” Stago told The AP.
In 1978 Indians were given the right to express our religion through the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Aug. 11, 1978 a United States federal law, enacted by Congress to protect and preserve the traditional religious rights and cultural practices of American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and Native Hawaiians. These rights include, access to sacred sites, freedom to worship through ceremonial and traditional rights, and use and possession of objects considered sacred. The Act required policies of all governmental agencies to eliminate interference with the free exercise of Native American religion, based on the First Amendment, and to accommodate access to and use of religious sites. It also acknowledges the prior violation of that right. Due to the complex nature of American Indian religious beliefs, American Indian religions have often been at odds with existing federal laws and government policies. There have been several areas of conflict. Firstly, American Indians did not have access to a number of sacred places that the tribes had traditionally used in religious ceremonies. Native American religious practices often came into conflict with the idea that American public lands exist for the use and benefit of the American people.
“You don’t get tired dancing, the drums put you into a meditative state.” The drum is like a heartbeat and it pushes you on”, says May Lenca, from western Honduras where her indigenous people live in the endangered rain forest. She is a spiritual person and came to Oak Flat to link spiritually with her Apache brothers and sisters. “John McCain has no heart, conscience or soul and he gave them up long ago for power, money and greed. You can’t do this if you have a heart ! “McCain is a lost soul.” We natives have joined together here, Lenca said. “We are all from the creator and we have to gather to protect Mother Earth.” “People can chose to be good”! The legislatures who did this – used to be people you could work with. But power corrupts and you have to learn to be humble with people.”
“We are a non-violent religious movement, said Wendsler Nosie at the conclusion of the Holy Ground Blessing.
“Today eagle feathers arrived here on foot, this is a spiritual gathering. The idea is to get here so the blessing can be given by God. We have arrived so God will have blessed us … we are all brothers and sisters here. Together we will protect our waters so we can continue to live as human beings. The Apache need to be afforded the same protection as all U.S. citizens — we Apache want the same rights afforded everyone else. This is a gift from God to help save the world may we all be blessed from this day forward,” Nosie concludes.
Carrie Curley, age 26 is dancing with her aunt Margie Curley and says she is fighting for “my identity, our religion and our ancestral land”. Curley says every time she drives into the valley she stop at Oak Flat to pray. Her fondest memories are in Gann Canyon, where she prays thanking the good spirit for their land and to grace us with
his blessing. “The creator gave us land so they can’t take it away.” Margie remembers Oak Flat from her high school days where she attended high school there, her fondest memories of the Easter celebration celebrated by the much of the whole town who moves to Oak Flat over the Easter weekend-but as an Apache, she loves Oak Flat as “a holy land, a land of prayer.”
On a bronze plaque in front of the San Carlos Apache Administration building is written beneath the names of all the Apache who served as chairman or leaders of the San Carlos Tribe; it reads: “We remember those who sacrifice and defended our people–we recognize our great leaders and their respect for those who know freedom. We must guide our people to, once again, hold our destiny in our own hands, so I challenge each of us to overcome the oppression and begin the process of believing in ourselves. This must be the first step…
Usen, we ask for your blessing to guide our current and future leadership so that our children and the unborn will inherit our Apache Way of Life…..Wendsler Nosie Sr.
The Oak Flat Campground was set aside in 1955 by President Eisenhower in an effort to preserve special public lands from threats like mining and development. Since that time, thousands of visitors have enjoyed the wilderness.
Copper mining would shut out visitors to Oak Flat and allow international mining companies like Rio Tinto the power to disrupt the land by digging mine shafts, excavating minerals and carving roads through a once wild landscape. The tribes would be stripped of access to native and sacred lands to practice their religion, contrary to the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Block cave mining is a technique that involves drilling and blasting from underneath the copper ore body, creating an underground cavern. This method causes instability within the mine and at the surface, making it collapse. At the Henderson Mine near Empire, Colorado, an entire mountainside collapsed after undergoing block cave mining. At Oak Flat, this would put sensitive ecological areas and sacred tribal lands at risk and would change the landscape forever.
Former Republican Arizona Congressman Rick Renzi reported to a federal prison in West Virginia
to begin serving a three-year sentence for corruption, money laundering and 15 other convictions
including wire fraud, extortion and racketeering.
CONGRESSMAN Raúl M. Grijalva introduced the “Save Oak Flat Act,” to repeals a congressional giveaway of sacred Native American land to a Canadian company called Resolution Copper co-owned by multinational mining conglomerate Rio Tinto .
">CLICK HERE FOR SPANISH TRANSLATION
TOHONO O’ODHAM SLAP STICK IS A COMPETITIVE BATTLE IN SELLS, NOT FOR THE WEAK-KNEED, NOR FOR THE FAIR WEATHER VISITOR…
Playing the Tohono Oodham women’s stick game, Toka, is not for the weak at heart. The Lacrosse-style game involves teams of 5-12 members played without pads and battling it out with sticks cut from the desert mesquite tree. Getting slapped around in the heat of battle is part of the experience for contestants who range in age from early youth to late middle age.The recent tournament played during the TO’s Nation’s annual Rodeo and Fair brought out ten teams and almost 125 participants who took on various villages for the honor of being the best or toughest of the bunch. Starting at the civilized hour of noon, rivals “back-in-the-day tournaments which often began before sunrise and then moved into mid-day, stopping only as the heat of day forced folks into the shade. Today’s Toka Tournaments, since 1990 have been organized into tribal tournaments encouraging women of all ages to come out and fight for the “honor of their village” and this year celebrating the 25th anniversary of the “revival of Toka” has seen frequent tournaments pop up around the reservation and causing moreand more teams to surface particularly during the cooler months. The next tournament will be hosted by the San Xavier District and many of teams have eyed that trophy. While Toka was played differently in the 1970’s taking over large fields with no specific out of bounds, today’s tournaments are fenced in providing some barriers to those battling for the Toka puck, two pieces of wood, held together by a piece of rawhide string, to win-the victory goes to the first team to get two goals. Spectators should not get to comfortable sitting on the sidelines because like the days of old, any spot within the fence is in play and a snoozing fan would not be the first to get slapped around and chased from their chairs-if not run over and flattened. I personally took a dirt bath when photographing my first tournament as the play moved toward my stance on the sidelines, expecting things to cease on the sidelines, was surprised to hide myself and camera in play. So I wasn’t surprised to find out, men are not allowed on the Toka field, probably because they aren’t tough enough to take the beating. Chatting with a former Santa Rosa player what she found the most challenging about Toka, she emphasized how much it hurt getting wacked on the ankle by a mesquite branch and further it was pointed out while the game might be about earning the honor for their village–secretly it was pointed out a few well-placed wacks on your competitors ankle–slows them down a bit and schools them on the finer points of competition. May the best team win ! This year’s Tohono O’odham’s Rodeo and Fair was hammered by desert rains, beginning on Friday with the Nation’s Junior Rodeo and continuing into the weekend. Saturday the day started out with a drizzle for the annual parade and then it opened up and poured on the mid-way and fair, making the rodeo grounds a muddy mess, adding new action for the wild horse races, bareback and saddle broncs competition, presided over by rough stock, who didn’t really need the help but got it anyway. Some events didn’t register a good time all day taking all the prize money into a much drier Sunday performance. Still attendance was good, fantastic for weekend of rough weather, almost 800 people turned on Saturday and braved the downpours, some wrapped their feet in plastic shopping bags, to wander around the midway to enjoy the rides and corn dog alley. Sunday the sun came out, as did the mud-graders, who pushed the “chocolate pudding” aside, to make way for die-hard participants who danced the “Chicken Scratch” to a battle of bands honoring the Tohono Oodham way of dance. On the road side graders piled up mud 18 inches deep, reminding me of the mid-west winters, when snow would be pushed off the roadways and stack up there until Spring, in Sells, the mud was all gone by noon.
MORE PHOTOS FROM THE 2015 TOHONO OODHAM RODEO, FAIR AND TOKA TOURNAMENT CLICK HERE….
<a href=” SPANISH TRANSLATIONS:CLICK HERE