Itom Hiapsi – Health, education and tradition

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe recently completed its new tribal administration building in Guadalupe, AZ. The building’s name, Itom Hiapsi, is a Yaqui word that means “our heart,” and it  represents the tribe’s commitment to the health and education of 3,600 tribal members living in Guadalupe and the greater Phoenix area.

The tribe worked with Travois New Markets to close New Markets Tax Credit financing for the project, and I was excited to visit and see the building up and running.

The center’s services are organized around the theme “circle of care.” Gino Turrubiartes, the building’s administrator, described it as a one-stop-shop for a variety of services.

Itom Hiapsi is organized much like the new model of health clinics where families can access a multitude of services during one visit. At the center, a tribal member can access Center Spirit, a comprehensive treatment program for children and adolescents, and just down the hall, that same person can access the meditation room, or healer room, for traditional Yaqui holistic medicine. Additionally, the center offers legal services, emergency home repair and a satellite office for enrollment that is linked via broadband to the central government records in Tucson.

Another important benefit to the new building is privacy. With a small, tightknit community, Itom Hiapsi emphasizes confidentiality and security for those needing services. The architects and planners have designed a space that is beautiful and welcoming but also strategic and secure.

The Pascua Yaqui Tribe has a strong commitment to education. Its Yaqui Education Services (YES) program is also housed in the center. Every student who maintains a minimum GPA of 2.0 receives a cash subsidy to assist with tuition or expenses. YES is comprised of K-12 and higher education programs that provide educational tracking, tutoring, GED certification and scholarships.

Equal care has also been taken to incorporate Yaqui traditions and art throughout the design. As you approach the building, there is a beautiful statue of the renowned deer dancer Luis Sinsuevo. A traditional creosote bush was preserved during construction and sits outside the building. Elders can be seen trimming off a branch to grow in their own garden or for herbal remedies.

Inside, the lobby holds a time capsule decorated with the humming bird, another important Yaqui symbol. Yaqui artists painted all the works of art that adorn the hallways, conference rooms and offices.

Itom Hiapsi is a remarkable building and a beautiful reflection of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s commitment to its people’s education and well-being.

Stay tuned for further content on this blog about Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s recently completed education center in Tucson. We congratulate the Pascua Yaqui Tribe on completing these two important buildings in order to provide essential services to its tribal members.