Part 5: Topawa

I woke up in the morning on Monday feeling anew. The worst of my shingles was over, and I could put weight on my leg again. Woohoo!

Though I was a bit disappointed still about the previous few days, I was happy to be at least quasi functional and back as an integral member of the class. Plus, we were headed to Indian Country, and I really couldn’t stand another meal at El Nene’s (sorry Guse). Actually, El Nene’s wasn’t all that bad, but my gut was starting to feel that sweet Mexican cheese a little too friendly.

So, we headed out to Topawa, or at least in that direction. I was running a little late given that I was slow moving, but I made it to the van, and we were on our way. Our first stop was Tohono O’odham Community College, which I found to be well-organized and actually rather charming. The programs there seemed to be well run, though I’d be curious as to what their employee / teacher turnover rate is. Unfortunately, I didn’t ask any questions as I was still in a half-shingled daze, but c’est la vie. The bread at lunch was delicious. Also, Danny was a baller.

From there, we went to the Tohono O’odham Cultural Center and Museum. The facility was so nice and spacious — not an eye sore at all in the middle of relatively pristine desert. I also appreciated how “private” they seemed to keep the museum; rather, they didn’t want any photos taken, and it wasn’t even really a hub for tourism at all but a place for O’odham to centralize, learn about, and expand upon their traditional cultural teachings. This facility is probably the main distinguishing aspect that I noticed between the structural progress of the Tohono O’odham and the Lakota people in terms of cultural stability, preservation, and resilience — the Cultural Center really seems to serve a great purpose in the community and for O’odham culture.

Crystal and Peter gave a great tour of the place. Likewise, the dude who does the archeological stuff in the back was awesome, and he wore a dope hat.

One Reply to “Part 5: Topawa”

  1. Really Haley. Your experience makes me so happy that I have had my shingles shot. I will make sure It is up to date at my next doctor’s visit. An incredible amount of planning went into where to place the TO cultural center and museum. They did not want to make it a tourist attraction. Instead they opted to make it a community resource. The choice of placing it in Topawa, on the road to Baboquivari was contested but finally agreed upon. The TOCC was also the product of much inter community dialogue. As was stated, it has much support from the tribal college. Paul and his staff, I believe, is doing a great job in pinpointing the major goals they want the institution to achieve.

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