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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


October 19, 2002 - Issue 72


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Ford Foundation Chooses Tohono O'odham Community Activist and a Co-director of Tribal Group for "Changing World" Award

by David Tiebel Tucson Citizen
credits: Terrol Dew Johnson and Tristan Reader - Photo by Cary Herz/Getty Images

Terrol Dew Johnson and Tristan Reader SELLS, AZ - A Tohono O'odham community activist and the co-director of a tribal community action group are among those receiving 20 Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World awards.

Terrol Dew Johnson and Tristan Reader, founders and co-directors of Tohono O'odham Community Action in Sells, are sharing $130,000 in awards over the next two years.

The money will help them to them continue their work, said Kristen Simone, with the New York City based Ford Foundation, a private, non-profit, grant making organization.

"It's exciting, it's an honor," Johnson said in a telephone interview from New York City. He and Reader were in New York today to receive their awards at a dinner ceremony.

"Definitely it's going to give us the opportunity to do more great things on the reservation," including "paying the bills," Johnson said.

Reader, originally from Tempe, said of the award, "It's really a recognition of the hundreds of people in the O'odham community" who have worked in the six-year-old Community Action program.

The Community Action program relies mainly on foundation grants and private donations, Johnson said.

"Leadership for a changing world awardees demonstrate the kinds of leadership that are particularly effective in addressing the complex social realities of contemporary communities," Susan V. Berresford, president of the Ford Foundation said in an announcement.

Johnson and Reader's program was chosen to receive the award from among 1,400 nominations nationwide.

Johnson, a Tohono O'odham, is a nationally recognized Native American basketweaver and leading member of the Tohono O'odham Basketweavers Organization. Reader is not Native American, but has worked for seven years on the Tohono O'odham Nation with Johnson.

Under Johnson and Reader, Tohono O'odham Community Action has established a traditional tribal food program. The Tohono O'odham have one of the highest rates of adult-onset diabetes in the world, attributed partly to a modern diet.

It also has established the Basketweavers Organization, a traditional arts and culture program and a youth, elder outreach program, the Ford Foundation said in an award profile.

Community Action's annual Celebration of Basketweaving draws more than 300 Native American weavers from 17 tribes in 10 states, as well as native people from Mexico, Australia and Canada, Ford Foundation said.

Community Action also created a marketing cooperative to ensure fair compensation for weavers, the foundation said.

Sells, AZ MAP
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