8/12/2014 10:18:00 AM Moenkopi Senior Center honors elderly citizens Senior Heritage Day marked with dancing, recognition ceremonies and community socializing
Moenkopi Senior Center ladies dance in front of the center during Senior Heritage Day festivities Aug. 7. Tyler Tawahongva/NHO
Benny Humetewa and Betty Suetopka sit draped with Pendleton blankets Moenkopi Senior Center staff gave them during Senior Heritage Day Aug. 7. Photo/Tyler Tawahongva
Tyler Tawahongva NHO
MOENKOPI, Ariz. - On Aug. 7 the Moenkopi Senior Center celebrated Senior Heritage Day by putting on an event at the center to honor elderly citizens from the village of Moenkopi.
The seniors from the center danced the Corn Dance for those in attendance.
"The day is in recognition of our elders in the community which was proclaimed Senior Heritage Day last year by Chairman Shingoitewa," said Linda Honahnie, director of the Senior Center.
Two elders older than 90-years-old were honored including Betty Suetopka, 99.
"As long as the senior center has been here Betty has been coming all the time," Honanie said.
Suetopka's sisters spoke of their admiration for their older sister. Her sister gave a brief history of Betty's life.
"She went away to grade school and came back and went to Moencopi Day School then attended Phoenix Indian High School. After the 10th grade she decided to be a homemaker. Then she started her career in government service in Kayenta then on to Red Lake where she retired as a cook," her sister said.
Suetopka has 12 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren. Suetopka spoke to the crowd in Hopi encouraging them to be good to each other and to stay strong and live long.
Benny Humetewa was also honored. He is 98 years old. He also encouraged the people to be good to each other, saying that will help them live long. His daughters mentioned that he was always busy and stayed active all his life. He was never angry at anyone mentioned one of his daughters.
Another group of seniors were also honored, all more than 80 years old. Dorothy George, Senior Center board president, spoke to the crowd before the recognition.
"I got tired of staying home after retirement so I started coming down to the senior center. I have my clan sisters and brothers here," George said.
She encouraged other elders to come to the center and participate in activities and come and eat.
"It is good food that is served," she said.
Another board member, Bertha Nuvamsa, also encouraged elders to come to the center.
"We are happy when we play volleyball and play rummy cube. We're not mad at each other when we do activities," Nuvamsa said.
Eleven elders were honored, all more than 85 years old. They included Dolly Jackson, Nancy Pekytewa, Nina Talayumptewa, Betty Sumatzkuku, Alfred Elmer, Alton Honani, Mary Numkena, Marreitta Tewa and Virginia Gaseoma.
George also announced that Honahnie submitted her letter of resignation recently and will be going back to Rosebud, South Dakota where she is from. Honahnie acknowledged that this would be her last Heritage Day and she had become very fond of working at the center.
Honani has been at the center since it was built in 2003. At the time she had retired from the Tuba City Indian Medical Center where she worked until the late 90s. She joined the village task team, which was looking for money to build a senior center. She was only supposed to be a temporary employee but has been the director at the center ever since it was built.
She has lived in the Tuba City area with her husband Kingston Honahnie Sr. for 40 years. She served five terms on the Tuba City Unified School District School Board and served on the Moenkopi Developers Corporation as well as the Hopi Assisted Living Task team who helped to build an assisted living facility next to the Senior Center.
Honanie has been active in the community. She is working on grants to sustain the Senior Center after her departure.
"I would like to go home and rebuild my mother's home. I would like to see if I can help my people in the Rosebud community as well," she said.
Honahni stressed the need for young people to appreciate their elderly grandparents.
"They represent the heritage of the people and with them goes much of the heritage," she said. "Younger people don't see that so we bring some children from the Head Start to do activities with the elders. The main purpose is to keep them active and have a place to meet."