Ten Arizona State University student-athletes accompanied ASU American Indian students to Hopi and Navajo lands this past weekend to bring the university to tribal nations, learn about Native cultures and share in healthy activities.
This is the second year that this Health and Wellness/Culture Exchange component of the longstanding “Tribal Nations Tour” has taken ASU students and staff to the far reaches of the state in an innovative endeavor to interact with tribal members, encourage higher education and wellness, and work on community service projects.
“ASU works hard to provide their student athletes with experiences within the communities throughout Arizona. It’s great to see them reaching out to the Native American communities. Their presence will serve as a reminder to all youth that a college education is a dream that can become a reality,” said LuAnn Leonard, Arizona Board of Regents member and executive director of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund.
ASU has one of the highest American Indian student populations in the nation and is a leading university in the country for awarding graduate degrees to American Indian students. In addition, the Tribal Nations Tour was featured as a best practice at the National Indian Education Association Conference and the annual College Board conference.
Joining the “Tribal Nations Tour” from Sun Devil Athletics were Sophie Brunner (WBB), Jesse Calderon (wrestling), Cord Coronado (wrestling), Cali Farquharson (soccer), Natalie Krafft (XC/Track), Bernie Montoya (XC/track), Adriana Olivas (XC/track), Isidora Purkovic (WBB), Sara Tosti (soccer) and Daniel Wong (XC/track).
“This was our second annual trip to the Navajo and Hopi Nation with Sun Devils Serve, which was started through our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee,” explained said ASU associate athletic director Bill Kennedy, who was joined on the trip by Sun Devil assistant softball coach Boo Gillette from the SDA staff. “[The students] wanted to do a service project outside of the Phoenix-metro area that allowed them to experience a different culture and through the course of talking with people at ASU – finding out was ASU’s objectives and missions were – the logical choice seemed to come up to northern Arizona and the Navajo and Hopi Nation.”
In addition to participating in a service project that consisted of clearing rocks to allow space for a new water line, students who joined this year’s tour learned about traditional Hopi perspectives on running, dined as Navajos do on roast mutton, participated in a “Sun Devils 5k Run and 3k Walk” and learned about Navajo contemporary and traditional culture. Tribal Nations Tour participants met with the Hopi Opportunity Youth Initiative, enjoyed a Hopi dinner and learned about the tribe’s culture. The tour is coordinated by the ASU President’s Office of American Indian Initiatives.
“It’s a great experience,” said Kennedy. “They are very appreciative of the interest we have in their culture, trying to learn about their culture and give back to their culture. They are very gracious hosts and our student-athletes learned a lot and had a really good time.”