O'odham Games & Traditions
O'odham Song & Dance
Every autumn, after the harvest, Tohono O'odham communities would come togther in friendly competition. Sports like toka (similar to field hockey), songiwul (a men's race with a wooden kickball) and foot races were some of the highlights. Men and women would play stick games like gins and ko'omai. And the Tohono O'odham were historically known as long distance runners, carrying messages from village to village.
TOCA continues these traditions today. Teaching everything from the traditional blessing songs for toka players to how to make the gins sticks, these games are still an important part of our cultural activities.
But given the challenges of diabetes and obesity within our community, these athletic events take on an even greater importance. By promoting these culturally significant forms of physical fitness, TOCA is encouraging the active living that promotes wellness.
For the Tohono O'odham, the world itself was sung into existence. The traditional ceremonial and social songs are a core part of the O'odham Himdag – the Desert People's Lifeways. At TOCA, these songs continue to be a central component of our efforts.
Traditional songs and dances continue to bless the ground of school gardens and TOCA's farms.... they continue to call for the summer rains and seek strength for the saguaro fruit harvest....