Monday, April 3, 2017

Ajo: A Desert Town

When visiting Ajo over February Break, I remember visiting the Desert Alliance, an organization characterized by hard work in harsh conditions. I found the Desert Alliance impressive as they are able to harvest crops in the blazing heat in order to promote healthy living. When the group talked to Sterling, an O'odham member who works in the Desert Alliance, he states that his family and culture taught him the importance of hard work. Sterling lived in a remote area with little electricity so for him, harvesting one's own food is a necessity. I found it interesting listening to Sterling' s view of the importance of hard work to build character. Just days before, I listened to the Director of the Tohono O'odham Cultural Center talk about ways to teach people how to harvest their food. Thus, even though Sterling may harvest his own food because he believes in hard work, this may be a view that is no longer shared by a significant portion of the Tohono O'odham nation.

There is a distinct contrast between the town of Ajo and the town of Sells other than one is on a reservation. Sells has more businesses and most residents live near the grocery store, Bashas. On the other hand, Sterling and other O'odham tribe members around Ajo live in a secluded area with the nearest grocery store many miles away. Perhaps the difference in how some people in Sells view food is different from Sterling because they don't need to work hard to harvest food. Instead poeple can grab food from Bashas that is much more convenient and tast than many desert foods. Furthermore, while Sterling is surrounded by only desert foods for several miles, many reisdents in Sells have several options. Western junk foods are more integrated in a town like Sells rather than the outskirts of Ajo. Therefore, even though Sterling's upbringing may be a significant reason for why he values harvesting one's own food, his location makes harvesting the logical option and hard work necessary.

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