Team of ASU students, faculty and staff travels to Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation to encourage youth, perform community service
A team of ASU students, faculty and staff travelled recently to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation to give one-on-one attention to young people and to encourage them to seek a college education.
Nearly 50 students, athletes and staffers visited the reservation this as part of an annual outreach program called the Tribal Nations Tour, which brings ASU to schools with high populations of American Indian students throughout the state. Each year, the tour presents several topics related to wellness, college readiness, career preparation and the pursuit of academic degrees.
They also offered up a day of community service, performing cleanup and painting duties in preparation for Orme Dam Victory Days celebration, which starts Friday and runs through the weekend.
“It’s important to bring educational awareness to Native communities and be able to say, ‘This is where you could be, and this is how you can help your tribe to evolve and prosper in the future,’” said Zach Doka, a junior at Arizona State University who is involved in the Tribal Nations Tour.
Doka grew up on the Fort McDowell Reservation and says he was blessed with good parents who stressed education, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t aware of obstacles facing Native youth.
“Our young people face a lot of hurdles,” Doka said. “Loss of our language, and culture is dwindling because of outside influences. It’s important that ASU came here today to show they care.”
University students took a tour of the reservation to learn about traditional and contemporary Yavapai culture, history, activism, gaming issues, as well as a brief overview of the Orme Dam controversy that locked the nation in a battle with the U.S. government 40 years ago.
The proposed dam would have flooded a large portion of the reservation and forced tribe members to relocate. The tribe defeated dam proponents in November 1981, and this weekend they will celebrate 35 years of social and economic gains.
Annabell Bowen, director for the Office of the President on American Indian Initiatives, said the purpose of the trip was twofold — to show support to all of Arizona’s 22 tribal nations, and to repay a kindness to Fort McDowell.
“This is a way to give back to the community for recognizing their contribution and what they have given to ASU,” Bowen said.
ASU’s Wassaja Scholarship is part of a $1 million gift that was donated from the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. This scholarship is designed to support ASU American Indian students, and it ranges from $500 to $800 per student per semester.