On Saturday, we visited the San Xavier Reservation and talked with Angelo Joaquin!
While the interior of the Church was truly amazing, the highlight of the day was undoubtedly sitting on the bench pictured above and listening to Angelo Joaquin. He gave such a great overview of the prior oppression endured by the Tohono O’odham, modern issues facing the nation, and recent developments within the tribe. Looking out over the reservation and hearing the stories told by a man who has witnessed firsthand the lives of the people whom we are studying resonated intensely with me.
Among the topics covered by Joaquin were water issues, financial struggles, conflicts with the US government, strategies for economic growth, and the spiritual relationship between the Tohono O’odham and their land. Clearly evident in a large part of the talk was how the industrialization of the United States and the rest of the world has had a lasting impact on the tribe. Not only does climate change impact humans’ ability to use renewable resources but it also harms things (the saguaro for example) which play a role in what some consider to be spiritual matters.
As I walked around the church and stared at the surrounding mountains, I could not help but think about the harm done by the clash of cultures between Native Americans and those who set the groundwork for today’s society. After doing research on poverty among the Tohono O’odham, a part of me experienced a sense of frustration. However, I also see hope for the future, knowing that strategies such as casino building and educational opportunity will increase well-being.