Archive for January, 2010

Misrepresenting the Hopi with photos

Earlier this week I blogged about a tourist who took a photograph of a home at Orayvi and posted it to his blog. The tourist admitted that there were signs up that forbid people from taking photos, but he took one anyway. It appears from his post that the reason he published the photo was to show his readers how poor he perceived the Hopi to be.

In my earlier post I mentioned that some Hopis do not want tourists to take photos of their villages because they desire to protect their privacy. Still others post these signs at the entrance of the village so that tourists will not misrepresent them. The sandstone homes and the condition of the village may cause outsiders to conclude that the Hopi people are poor and in desperate need of help. But is this the message that the people of Orayvi want the world to believe or hear?

I wonder if the author of Boquete Panama Guide has ever been inside an Orayvi home? During his recent visit to the reservation, did he speak to the owner of this or other Hopi homes? Did he hear their stories about how members of their families/clans built these homes in the early 1900s or earlier? Did they tell him that people from the village once traveled by foot to Nuvadakovi (San Francisco Peaks) to cut down wood beams to use for their ceilings, and carried them back to the village? If so, did he see the pride in their faces when they told him that their families have lived in these homes for more than a hundred years? Did they explain to him that many years ago the people of the village decided to live without modern conveniences such as electricity and running water? Did he care enough to ask? Did he care enough to ask why?

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Spanish mission buildings and sandstone homes

The producers of Beyond the Mesas were very fortunate that Marsah Balenquah from Bacavi on Third Mesa agreed to be interviewed for the film. In the documentary she explains that she attended Sherman for thirteen or fourteen years. At one point in the film she describes her impression of the school’s buildings. Built by Indian students in a Spanish Mission architectural style, the buildings did not resemble the sandstone homes she and other Hopis were familiar with on the reservation.

This photograph was taken when Marsah attended the Indian school in Riverside from 1920 to 1934. In the photo girls are standing in a line waiting for roll call and inspection. Everyday life at Sherman was very regimented. An American flag drapes from the portico of the school’s main building. Photo courtesy of the Sherman Indian Museum.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Tourists, Cameras, and Hopi Privacy

Today I read a blog about an American who now lives in Boquete, Panama. This week he visited the Hopi Reservation and took a picture of a home at Orayvi on Third Mesa and posted it to his blog called Boquete Panama Guide. Here is what he writes:

It has been years since my last visit and I wanted to see if the life of the Hopi had changed. Everything was closed, the poverty obvious and although there were signs up not to take photos I took one of this dwelling.

Recently a friend asked me why Hopis post signs at the entrance of their villages that forbid tourists from taking photos. I told him that one of the reasons is because Hopis want to protect their privacy.

Think of it in this way…

Imagine that you live in a remote area of North America that receives thousands of tourists each year. Your house is unlike most homes in the United States. It is made of sandstones and situated close to a highway. Throughout the year tourists zoom by your house, abruptly stop their cars, roll down their windows, and snap photos of your home. Sometimes this happens when you are sitting out front drinking ice tea and visiting with members of your family. Other times your children are playing outside. But it does not matter to the tourists if anyone is home, or whether people are outside. All they want is a photo of your home, and to them, the photo is only enhanced if you and your children are part of it. You sometimes wonder what people do with these photos. You imagine that some people put the picture of your home in a photo album, a book, make postcards and calendars from it, or sell it.

Concerned about your family’s privacy, you decide that enough is enough and so you put a sign in your front yard that reads: “Please do not take photos of my home.” And then you wait. It does not take long for the next tourist to drive by. He slows down. He reads the sign, then looks at your home, then reads the sign again. A Nikon camera is laying on the passenger seat. He finds himself in a dilemma, but he decides to honor your request. Five minutes later, another car approaches your home. These people stop and read your sign, then look around to see if anyone is looking, roll down their window, take several photos of your home and speed away. This happens day after day and it will only increase during the summer months.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

1920s photo of Hopi girls at Sherman Institute

I was once asked how many photos and other images we included in Beyond the Mesas. I do not know the exact number, but it had to have been over a hundred. Some of these photos came from people who we interviewed for the film, others we uncovered at various archives. One of these photos was of a group of Hopi girls at Sherman Institute during the 1920s. I came across this picture in the Veva Wight Collection at the Sherman Indian Museum in Riverside, California. Wight was a Protestant missionary who led Bible studies and other Christian activities at the school. She worked as a “Religious Worker” at Sherman for more than thirty years. Although government officials allowed Christianity at Sherman to encourage the assimilation of Indian students, some Hopi girls had a genuine committment or interest in the Christian faith.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Beyond the Mesas to air locally and via internet

I am pleased to announce that UI-7, a local television station associated with the College of Media at the University of Illinois, will air Beyond the Mesas this week on the following days and times:

Tuesday, January 19 – 7:30pm and 9:00pm CST
Wednesday, January 20 – 1:00 pm CST
Friday, January 22 – 10:00 pm CST
Saturday, January 23 – 8:00 pm CST

UI-7 can be seen on Channel 7 for local Comcast subscribers.

On the same days/times, Beyond the Mesas will air simultaneously over the internet via a live stream at: http://www.media.illinois.edu/service/ui7live.html

If you are planning on watching the film on-line, remember to account for the different time zones. The above showings are listed in Central Standard Time (CST)

Beyond the Mesas Trailer

About the film:

Directed by Emmy Award winning director, Allan Holzman, and produced by Leigh J. Kuwanwisiwma, Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, and Gerald Eichner, Beyond the Mesas is a thirty-six minute documentary film on the removal of Hopis to on and off-reservation boarding schools and their experiences at schools such as Sherman Institute, Phoenix Indian School, Ganado Mission School, and Stewart Indian School. Topics covered in the film include Hopi understandings of education, early U.S. government attempts to assimilate Hopis, the Orayvi Split, Hopi language loss at American schools, and the future of the Hopi people. Produced with the cooperation and involvement of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office in Kykotsmovi, Arizona, Beyond the Mesas is part I of a series of films on children and American Indian culture titled “Keeping the Culture Alive.”

The first public showing of the film was at the Hotevilla Bacavi Community School on the Hopi Reservation on November 8, 2006. Shortly afterwards, the Applied Indigenous Studies Department at Northern Arizona University and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office hosted a screening at the Cline Library auditorium. Since November 2006, official screenings have taken place at other universities and schools, including the University of Illinois, University of California, Riverside, Cornell University, and Sherman Indian High School. The film has aired on several regional PBS stations throughout the United States.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Tawaquaptewa and the Antiques Roadshow

In 2005, I published an article on a Hopi chief named Tawaquaptewa from Orayvi on Third Mesa. He was kikmongwi (village chief) at Orayvi during a very unstable time in Hopi history. In the early 1900s the village of Orayvi was divided over several issues. One of these issues was the mandatory enrollment of Hopi children at government schools.

In the past scholars have produced a great deal of material on Tawaquaptewa, but most of the scholarship focuses on Tawaquaptewa during this period. However, when I was writing my book on the Hopi boarding school experience I came across a fascinating article by Barry Walsh titled “Kikmongwi As Artist: The Katsina Dolls of Wilson Tawaquaptewa” in the American Indian Art Magazine (Winter 1998).

Walsh highlights an area of Tawaquaptewa’s life that has not received much attention. Tawaquaptewa was a carver and he sold his katsina dolls to tourists who visited the reservation between 1930 and 1960. Today his dolls are highly sought after by collectors. A website called TribalArtCollections.com has a photo gallery of his work.

In March 2008, the Antiques Roadshow (PBS) featured one of Tawaquaptewa’s katsina dolls. The segment is less than 3 minutes long, but I think you will find it interesting. To see the video click here. I have also pasted the appraisal transcript below.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

——————————————–

The following transcript was originally published on the Antiques Roadshow (PBS) website at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200705A39.html

20th-Century Wilson Tawaquaptewa Kachina Doll

Aired: March 31, 2008

GUEST: It’s a kachina doll. It was my father’s. I got it after he passed away. He taught school in Southern Idaho. During the ’20s, when they relocated tribal people from different places, they sent the children all over the United States, and this young man became a friend of my father’s, and when he left school, he gave my dad the doll, so…

APPRAISER: Do you know where it came from?

GUEST: From hearing what my dad talked about and what he said, you know, that it was from… Southwest America somewhere.

APPRAISER: It’s from Northern Arizona.

GUEST: Northern Arizona?

APPRAISER: It is a kachina doll, but… there’s some different things about this one that makes it a little bit special. It’s not like most kachina dolls. We actually know who made this doll.

GUEST: Oh, really?

APPRAISER: Yeah. It was made by a guy named Wilson Tawaquaptewa.

GUEST: Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER: And he was the Hopi chief at Oraibi, but there’s two Oraibi villages and I’m not sure which one it was.

GUEST: See, that name sounds familiar.

APPRAISER: Yeah, but… because he was the chief, he wasn’t going to do something traditional and sell it, and so he made these kachinas that are like no other kachinas.

GUEST: Really?

APPRAISER: You go through the books and you’re not going to find one of these, because they most often represent a badger, or they have characteristics of a mouse or some animal in his world out there that’s not a traditional kachina, and this is one of them. The way that we spotted it is he liked to use this indigo color, and… it’s this really faded blue here.

GUEST: I never noticed it.

APPRAISER: Yeah, we almost didn’t, too. Tawaquaptewa worked from about 1930 into the early 1960s. If it wasn’t one of his and it was a kachina that looked like it was from the ’30s like this one, that’s worth some pretty good money– $2,500…

GUEST: Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER:…to $3,500, but because it’s a Wilson Tawaquaptewa, there’s a group of collectors now who recognize his work, who buy his work. On a bad day, this is worth $7,500 to $8,500. Uh… …if it’s a good day and the right collector’s in the room, $9,000.

GUEST: My goodness.

APPRAISER: So it’s something real special and it’s something real unique that you ended up with.

GUEST: Oh, no kidding, and to know that, you know, you can recognize the maker, you know…

APPRAISER: Yeah.

GUEST:…that is, that is amazing. That surprises me, surprises me a great deal.

APPRAISER: Great. Yeah.

GUEST: Yeah, it does.

Hopi Music Repatriation Project

The Hopi of northeastern Arizona are among the most researched indigenous people groups in North America. Over the years anthropologists, historians, psychologists, ethnographers and many others have conducted research on the Hopi Reservation.  Their scholarship has appeared in journals, books, internet websites, and even films. Some of these scholars collaborated with Hopi people, followed research protocols established by the Hopi Tribe, and sought ways to give back to the Hopi community. Others did not. But the purpose of today’s post is not for me to write about people who have exploited Hopis of their intellectual property or conducted research on the reservation without permission from the Hopi Tribe. Instead I want to introduce you to someone whom I believe has done the complete opposite.

While a graduate student in the Arts Administration program at Columbia University, Trevor Reed from the Hopi village of Hotevilla developed a research project called the “Hopi Music Repatriation Project” (HMRP). This project focuses on field recordings of Hopi songs that ethnomusicologists conducted during the 1930s and 1940s. The recordings are now archived at Columbia University’s Center for Ethnomusicology. As Reed points out on his blog Hopi Music Repatriation Project: “On one hand, these recordings are invaluable research tools for ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, and for the American public, who ideally should be educated in the indigenous heritage of the land on which they live. On the other hand, the recordings are an important link to Hopi past and identity, and contain highly sensitive material.” So what are the questions that this project seeks to answer? Again, Reed notes: “based on Hopi and U.S. concepts of intellectual property, to whom do these recordings rightfully belong and what should be done with them?”

I urge you to visit Reed’s blog and learn more about this important project. His current post, “Repatriation Initiative Receives Endorsement from Hopi Elders,” describes a recent meeting that he had with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office and the Hopi Cultural Resources Advisory Task Team. At this meeting Reed gave a update on his project and played some of the Hopi songs that he uncovered at the University’s Center for Ethnomusicology. As Reed recalls, a highlight for him was when he played a particular song at the meeting and those in attendance joined in the singing. To visit Reed’s blog, click here.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert


Copyright Notice

© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the author

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert is enrolled with the Hopi Tribe from the village of Upper Moencopi in northeastern Arizona. He is an associate professor of American Indian Studies & History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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A Second Wave of Hopi Migration (History of Education Quarterly, August 2014)

Sun Chief: An Autobiography of A Hopi Indian by Don C. Talayesva, New foreword by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Sept. 2013)

Marathoner Louis Tewanima and the Continuity of Hopi Running, 1908-1912 (Western Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2012). Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Short Nonfiction, Western Writers of America (2013)

“Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930″, American Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1, March Issue 2010 (Click image to download article)

Hopi runner Philip Zeyouma’s trophy cups featured on cover of American Quarterly

Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010)

Education beyond the Mesas – Introduction (click image to download)

“‘The Hopi Followers': Chief Tawaquaptewa and Hopi Student Advancement at Sherman Institute, 1906-1909″, Journal of American Indian Education, (Click image to download article)

The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images From Sherman Institute (Oregon State University Press, 2012)

Arizona English Teachers Association highlights Hopi authors (click image to download)

Constitution and Bylaws of the Hopi Tribe (With all amendments, click to download)

Click to listen to KUYI On-Line

Matt’s Goodreads

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