Archive for the 'Hopi language' Category

Hopi Youth Return to Mesa Verde – A film by Hopi Footprints of the Ancestors

A few weeks ago I passed along an announcement on my blog about 4 Hopi film screenings at the Museum of Northern Arizona. One of these films was Hopi Youth Return to Mesa Verde. This film examines a group of Hopis who traveled to a Hopi migration settlement called Mesa Verde in Colorado. As you watch the film, take note of the similarities that the youth bring up between Hopi ancestral ways and the practices of today’s Hopi people. Their remarks on the continuity of Hopi culture is an important theme in the film.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Hopi scholars publish articles

I am pleased to report that Hopi scholars Sheilah E. Nicholas of the University of Arizona and Lomayumtewa C. Ishii of Northern Arizona University recently published the following articles:

Nicholas, Sheilah E., “Language, Epistemology, and Cultural Identity: ‘Hopiqatsit Aw Unanguakiwyungwa‘ (‘They Have Their Heart in the Hopi Way of Life’)”, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 2010, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 125-144.

This article provides an in-depth “on the ground” look at the Hopi language shift—“becoming accustomed to speaking English”—through the lenses of the study participants who represent the youth, parent, and grandparent generations. The article also gives attention to Hopi oral tradition and the Hopi identity-formation process in order to articulate the link among language, epistemology, and identity, spotlighting what of the traditions, practices, and religion remain salient and why they remain salient. [p. 127]

Ishii, Lomayumtewa C., “Western Science Comes to the Hopis: Critically Deconstructing the Origins of an Imperialist Canon,” Wicazo Sa Review, Fall 2010, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 65-88.

The number of western texts written about Hopi culture is enormous. The work of Jesse Walter Fewkes, beginning in the 1890s, marks a key starting point in the articulation of a western perspective of Hopi culture, initiating a canon rooted in nineteenth-century anthropological thought. Fewkes’s work also illustrates how the establishment of a “cultural archive” was pragmatically related to his research, which included excavations of Hopi sites (notably the village of Awatovi), as well as through his personal commentary. This article examines nineteenth-century anthropological theory, Fewkes’s employment of that theoretical orientation, and how his work established the foundation of a “cultural archive” that constitutes a canon in the study of Hopi culture. But more importantly, by critically reading these texts a decolonization process reveals a western imperialistic mind at work. [p. 65]

2010 Hopilavayi Forum – Hopilavayit Itam Qasuutokyani

“Kwa’a, kwakwha’ um nuy siiva maqa”: Speaking Hopi to Grandpa

When I received my advanced degree in history from UC Riverside my grandparents made the trip from Moencopi to Southern California to see me graduate. We had a big celebration and one of the gifts my grandparents gave me was a card with a check inside. After opening the card I immediately thanked my grandmother, but I waited to thank my grandfather until I was able to do so in Hopi. As my grandfather was sitting in his truck, ready to make the trip back to the reservation, I said to him: “Kwa’a, kwakwha’ um nuy siiva maqa” (“Grandpa, thank you for the money that you gave me”). He looked up at me and said one word: “owi’.” The literal English translation of “owi'” is “yes,” but in this context it meant much more. At that very moment I connected with my grandfather at a level that would have been impossible in English. Hopi was his first language and it is the language that he prefers.

Growing up in the mountain community of Flagstaff, I thought my grandfather was a man of few words. I do not recall having long conversations with him when I was a child. But as I got older I realized that my grandfather was a man of few words in English and not Hopi. I sometimes wonder how my relationship with my grandfather would be different if I knew how to speak more Hopi. In my immediate family we say that kwa’a only listens to my dad, because my dad speaks to him in Hopi. We say this jokingly, but there is truth to it. Even today when our family gets together my dad and his father can be heard conversing in the Hopi language.

A lifelong goal of mine is to be able to speak fluent Hopi. I have a long way to go before I reach this goal. Hopis are proud that much of our culture remains intact. Many of our ceremonies continue, we remain on portions of our ancestral lands, and Hopi is still spoken. But our parents and grandparents will tell you that fewer and fewer Hopis are able to speak their language. Fortunately, efforts are being made by people such as Sheilah E. Nicholas of the Hopilavayi Project and many others to encourage and help Hopis reverse this problem.

On a related note, Louellyn White, one of our American Indian Studies postdoctoral fellows at the University of Illinois, and Teresa McCarty of Arizona State University, recently informed me about a new story that National Public Radio (NPR) released on Hopi language and youth. The title of this program is “Hopi Teens Worry About Loss of Culture.” This program briefly examines Hopi language loss at U.S. government schools and the issues Hopi youth face as they try to live as Hopis in today’s world. It is a fascinating story. If you would like to listen to the 5 minute program and/or view the transcript, click here.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Sheilah E. Nicholas publishes article on Hopi language and youth

Sheilah E. Nicholas (Hopi) from the village of Songoopavi, and assistant professor in the College of Education at the University of Arizona, recently published an article titled, “‘I Live Hopi, I Just Don’t Speak It’ – The Critical Intersection of Language, Culture, and Identity in the Lives of Contemporary Hopi Youth”, Journal of Language, Identity & Education, Vol. 8, Issue 5, November 2009, pp. 321-334. This article is a major contribution to the fields of education and Hopi studies. It is a wonderful essay to read alongside Beyond the Mesas. To view the abstract, 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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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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