Cultivating Water Stewards
By: Damien Carlos, Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag Facilitator
With the end of the academic year comes the close of the third year of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag, which translates from the O’odham language as ‘Water is Life.’ The Tohono O’odham are a desert Indigenous community located along what is today known as the US/Mexico border. At a Climate Change Forum several years ago, Tohono O’odham youth discussed their endangered water resources, voicing a desire to preserve rainwater and groundwater, and to connect more deeply with their himdag or ‘way of life.’
Baboquivari High School (BHS) and Borderlands Restoration Network collaborated to pilot an after-school program that hired BHS students to work alongside conservation professionals, designing and installing a rainwater-harvesting native plant and heritage food garden on campus. This program, called Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag, was designed for TO youth to earn valuable skills, training, and work experience. The first cohort of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag students designed and built a project called Ṣu:dagī Oidag (Rain Garden) on the BHS Campus.
The latest group of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag interns has designed a new project that will be installed at BHS. The design aims to capture about 20% of all rainwater that falls on the site. Our interns have designed this project to give BHS students a sense of ownership of their campus and more importantly, a calm space to relax. This cohort will spend a few days out of their summer break to dig catch basins and leave a framework for the next group of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag interns to build on.
We thank the Baboquivari High School administration for helping create this opportunity, our presenters for sharing their knowledge with our interns, and our students of Ṣu:dagī ‘O Wuḍ Doakag for giving their time and hard work.
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