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The Natwani Coalition: Strengthening Hopi Culture and Agriculture for 10 Years
Samantha Honani Antone
When you think about it, the cuisine we put on our tables gives our families life, health and a sense of identity. Since 2004, the Hopi Foundation’s Natwani Coalition has offered a variety of community- and school-based educational programs to hundreds of our Hopisinom (people) in Hopi and Hopi-Tewa communities. These programs promote the cultivation of our local traditional foods and encourage healthy nutritional habits.
It wasn’t too long ago that our overall wellness was in balance. We all contributed to how we fed our families and ourselves. Today, we see health conditions and diseases caused by our diet and lack of physical activity. Our local food systems, farming practices and traditions may help address our health issues.
The following are a few of the Natwani Coalition’s current programs.
Hopi Agriculture & Food Symposium
This biennial gathering aims to improve our community’s health and wellness by teaching Hopi traditional values and culture. In June, the Coalition presented the 2014 symposium at First Mesa Elementary School. The theme was “Naa’okiwvewat akw itam naanami unangtapyani” (With humbleness we will support one another).
More than 350 people attended. It started early in the morning with a Hopi Seed Run, a traditional distance-running event. Then, there were classroom and hands-on workshops such as Integrating Farming into Everyday Wellness; Songs in Hopi Farming; Preparing Nutritious Traditional Foods; Improving Local Watersheds through New and Traditional Water-Gathering Technologies; and Traditional Collaborative Corn Planting. “Open Space” discussions were used to share knowledge and ideas and allow the participants to engage deeply and creatively in conversation about issues that concerned them. Many of these presentations and discussions were broadcast live over KUYI, Hopi Radio. Throughout the symposium’s three days, our cooks fed everyone with a great variety of delicious Hopi food.
Here are a few of the symposium participants’ comments: “Great way to bring in new ideas to Hopi”; “The most meaningful thing today was learning how easy it would be to start a garden”; and “Farming and planting is a way of bringing the family together.”
Hopi Natwani for Youth Project: Farming Curriculum
Over a period of seven years, the Natwani Coalition has been developing a guidebook that will be an essential tool for those who work with our youth to bring back their roles in Hopi farming. Because of the disconnect that has developed over the years, whether from the rise of technology or modern-day conveniences and influences, fewer youth are engaged in traditional Hopi agriculture. The Hopi Natwani for Youth Project (HNYP) guidebook is intended to serve as a catalyst for conversations and experiences that inspire knowledge-sharing between generations.
Of all of the Natwani Coalition’s programs, the HNYP is one of the most important. This community-born initiative, threaded throughout with lessons and activities, will greatly assist local Hopi and Hopi-Tewa users in advocating for the paramount importance of our Hopi culture, language and knowledge. The goals of the HNYP emerged not only from the voices of Hopi elders and the community but from the youth as well. It is in honor of these cross-generational voices, concerns and interests that this curriculum is being developed.
Hopi Farm Talk
Prior to hiring program associate Kyle Knox in September 2012, Hopi Farm Talk, a program on KUYI Hopi Radio 88.1 FM, aired only once a year. Today, with our own Community Advisory Board member, Bruce Talawyma, as the host, Hopi Farm Talk is a very successful outreach and awareness tool for the Coalition. Each month, every third Thursday at 8:30 a.m., via public radio and online streaming (www.kuyi.net), the program addresses and discusses (in both Hopi and English) various aspects of Hopi farming. The shows encourage our local community to engage through call-ins, comments on live Facebook interaction and through active listening. We see this as a great way to educate our community on a wide scale.
The Natwani Coalition and its many community partners and volunteers continue to make impacts in support of Hopi agriculture and our local food system. Our community is now more actively aware of issues around Hopi seed protection and preservation; buying, selling, and bartering locally; gardening and awareness of what foods they are eating and feeding their families, including the issue of natural foods versus GMOs. The Coalition has partnered with the local grassroots group developing a Hopi Food Co-op and with Hopi Tutskwa Permaculture to help leverage community-development activities.
The Natwani Coalition, a program of the nonprofit 501(c)(3) Hopi Foundation, is underfunded. We respectfully invite those who recognize the value and importance of our efforts to partner with us to celebrate our 10-year anniversary by making a donation or becoming a sponsor. For ways to provide support, please visit www.natwanicoalition.org
Samantha Honani Antone (Hopi-Tewa) is the Natwani Coalition’s program manager.
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