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Tohono O'Odham keeper of Saguaro fruit harvest dead at 71

Stella Tucker
Posted at 11:57 AM, Jan 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-16 13:57:36-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — An important elder of the Tohono O'odham has died.

Stella Tucker, the keeper of the Saguaro fruit harvest tradition, died Jan. 9 at the age of 71, according to a news release.

Tucker learned the tradition of baidaj, or the Saguaro fruit harvest, from her parents, grandparents and aunt. She harvested fruits from Saguaro National Park with a special permit granted to her from the Department of the Interior.

She taught the harvest to visitors, students and scientists for over 25 years at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and elsewhere.

Last year, Tucker was awareded a Master-Apprentice Artist Award from the Southwest Folklife Alliance in honor of her work teaching and preserving the tradition of harvesting Saguaro fruits.

Her daughter, Tanisha Tucker, now carries on the tradition of the fruit harvest.

Memorial services will be held Jan. 19 at San Xavier at 9 a.m.