On Saturday we visited the mission at San Xavier and observed the beautiful Catholic Chapel established by Father Kino. Overlooking the church was a religious mound with a cross upon the top. It was here that we had the privilege of meeting with a prominent member of the Tohono O’odham tribe: Angelo Joaquin Jr. He gave us our first in-person experience of the culture of the tribe and advocated for a return to the traditional ways for his people.
Listening to him, it was hard to disagree with what he was saying. He cited multiple negatives that his tribe had experienced since their modernization. For example, diabetes is extremely prevalent, traditional ceremonies are becoming more and more infrequent, and the language is beginning to disappear. It struck me listening to him how many people he was talking for. It genuinely seemed like his only objective was improving the overall status of his tribe and his commitment was remarkable.
His talk and the whole of the experience at San Xavier was a fantastic introduction to the reservation and a great way to ease into the culture. I look forward to delving deeper into the lands and experiencing even more.