Young Cayuga Native reflects on Quechan’s Anya NItz Pak & Elder Village Construction

Photo taken by: Stephen Veneski

My name is Connor Veneski and i am a member of the Cayuga Nation of New York. I have helped construct the Elders Village since the beginning more than 2 years ago.

Photo by Randy Hoeft/Yuma Sun

I wanted to be apart of this because i live so far away from my own tribe in New York and i rarely get to participate in my own community. At first i felt out of place but i got more comfortable knowing i wasnt the only person that was’nt quechan and the welcoming attitude of the others made it more comfortable as well. I also saw an opportunity to learn alot about the way of life of the people before and experience a small amount of what they went through.

Connor Veneski assisting in the construction of Tribal Mud Home

During construction it felt good, like i was doing a small part to restore a little history that is fading in the world, and after it was finished i felt proud to say i had a part in the project. The project helped my problem solving skills, my tolerance for weather, and showed me that with hard work and determination you could accomplish something as great as the Elders Village

Anya Nitz Pak Elders Village

 News Snippet: Quechan Nation celebrates grand opening of Yuma’s latest parkBy: Richard Romero/Yuma Sun – The Quechan Nation unveiled its latest gem Wednesday with Sunrise Point Park, Anya-Nitz-Pak, a nature park that has been in the making since 2006.The grand opening was celebrated Wednesday morning at the park, located at 1011 Levee Road, just south of Paradise Casino.Processions of tribal royalty, traditional singers and an array of speakers helped to make the event just as colorful as the park it represented.

Allyson Collins, Economic Development Administration specialist for the Quechan Indian Tribe, said the park was funded by an Arizona State Parks grant with a match from the Yuma Parks and National Heritage Area via Bureau of Reclamation funding.

Collins said the project, which cost nearly $1.2 million, boasts a lake for swimming, fishing, two ramadas, a plaza area, an amphitheater, and an area along the river known as the Elder Village.

Collins said she is ecstatic about the opening of the park and the opportunity to share the beauty that so many community members strived to create.

“It’s the crown jewel of the Yuma East Wetlands is what it is. To finally put that final piece on the Yuma East Wetlands is just remarkable,” Collins said.
Collins emphasized that getting people out into nature was a main goal in constructing the park.

“We hope that the community will be able to enjoy nature, will be able to enjoy Yuma’s beauty,” Collins said.

“We’re in a highly technological culture. And to be able to bring people out of that and with nature once again is what we hope to do.” Brian Golding Sr., the director of economic development with the Quechan Nation, said the park was worth the efforts to build it.

“This park represents a combination of about four years worth of work to transform what was essentially a wasteland into the beautiful space that you see before us,” Golding said at the event.



  1. Allyson Collins says:

    Praises to Connor, a great example of youth willing to step up to the challenge of the Elder Village Project. Connor is one of our core members and I’m happy that he is able to have such a positive experience. Hats off to all our youth participants.

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