Archive for the 'Films' Category

John Wayne taught my daughter that she is an Indian

In honor of my daughter Hannah’s 9th birthday, I’m passing along a short essay that I published on John Ford’s film Fort Apache (1948).

When Hannah was four years old, we watched this film together and I wrote about the experience for LeAnne Howe, Harvey Markowitz, and Denise K. Cummings’ edited collection entitled Seeing Red- Hollywood Pixel Skins: American Indians and Film.

There are so many ways for authors to approach their reviews of films.

At first, I wanted to write a scathing commentary on the racists ways the film depicted Native people, but I chose instead to understand the film from the perspective of an American Indian child.

I had hoped to reach more people with this approach, and bring a sense of the “humanity” to the larger topic of films, stereotypes, and racism.

As I mention in the essay, my time seeing the film with Hannah also brought back many childhood memories of watching John Wayne films on Saturday afternoons with my dad.

Screenshot 2013-11-29 10.26.20

Click to download (3 pages)

Screening BEYOND THE MESAS at Upper Moencopi

Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

On Saturday September 18, 2010, I had a special opportunity to screen BEYOND THE MESAS and give a presentation to my family at the village of Upper Moencopi’s Community Center. The screening and presentation were part of the Sakiestewa/Honanie Annual Family Reunion. About 60 people attended the event.

I have screened BEYOND THE MESAS at several universities in the United States, and I have shown it at other locations on the Hopi Reservation, but this was the first time the documentary was screened at Upper Moencopi. The film was well received and it led into a discussion on the benefits and negative consequences of Hopi attendance at off-reservation Indian boarding schools.

After the screening I passed out student case files that I collected at the National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California (now located in Perris, California). The files belong to members of the Sakiestewa and Honanie families who attended Sherman Institute or the Phoenix Indian School from 1906 to the 1940s. Most of the files included school applications, report cards, and handwritten and typed letters.

As a Hopi professor at the University of Illinois I am thankful for the opportunities that I have to bring my research back to the Hopi community. This has always been a driving force behind my work.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

New Movie – “The Only Good Indian” A Kevin Willmott film

Starring Cherokee actor Wes Studi, and directed by Kevin Willmott, The Only Good Indian tells a story about a Kickapoo pupil form Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, who ran away from school in the early 1900s to return to his family on the reservation.  I have not seen the movie, and so I do not know if Hopis are referenced or portrayed in the film.  Although most Hopis who went to off-reservation Indian boarding schools attended institutions in the West, some Hopis sought further training at Haskell Institute after they graduated from schools such as Sherman Institute and the Phoenix Indian School.  To learn more about the film, click here.

Beautiful Resistance

Beyond the Mesas is part 1 of a 2 part series on the Indian boarding school experience. The 2nd film is titled Beautiful Resistance, which examines the boarding school experience through contemporary Native art. Some of the people highlighted in this 30 minute film are Hulleah Tsinnhaghinni, Wendy Weston, Tony Abeyta, Steven Yazzie, Joanna Bigfeather, and the late Hopi artist Michael Kabotie. To learn how you can order a copy of this film, click here.


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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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)

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