Archive for the 'Hopi Runners' Category

Wings of America 15th Annual American Indian Running Coaches’ Clinic

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Plate by Jemez Pueblo potter Bernice T. Gachupin

In June I had a great opportunity to speak at the Wings of America organization’s annual American Indian Running Coaches’ Clinic in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Wings of America exists to “enhance the quality of life for American Indian youth” by promoting running and pride in one’s “cultural identity.”

I spoke to a group of nearly 50 Native high school runners, and a number of coaches, including Hopi coach Rick Baker. I don’t often get a chance to speak to such a well-informed audience!

However, the highlight for me was listening to Hopi runner Wendi Lewis from Kykotsmovi, who gave a wonderful talk on running through the “trials and tribulations of life.”

Other presenters included Navajo scholar Lloyd Lee, Anthropologist Peter Nabakov, who once published a remarkable book entitled Indian Running, Jemez Pueblo runner Steve Gachupin, and many others.

Although I was not able to listen to Steve Gachupin’s talk, I have great respect for him as a runner.

Known for winning six consecutive Pikes Peak Marathons in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he is a strong advocate for running among Native youth.

I first learned about Gachupin and his running accomplishments from an excellent article by historian Brian S. Collier  entitled “’To Bring Honor to My Village’: Steve Gachupin and the Community of Jemez Running and the Pikes Peak Marathon” (Journal of the West, Fall 2007).

If you are at all interested in running, be sure to read this article (it’s an article that I often cite in my work).

I should also note that the beautiful plate above was given to everyone who presented at the Clinic. It was made by Jemez Pueblo potter Bernice Gachupin, Steve Gachupin’s wife.

Finally, I want to give a special thanks to Wings of America Program Director Dustin Quinn Martin and other organizers for their hard work in making this terrific event possible.

Kwakwha’!

Running on a track

Armory track

Armory track & field – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This winter I’ve been running on the Armory track at the University of Illinois.

The last time I used a track was in high school.  Back then I was quite a bit faster.

Now days I plug along at a 10 minute per mile pace.

I am obviously not out to impress anyone, especially members of the UofI’s men’s or women’s track team who run circles around me during their practice.

But it’s a pace that I’m able to maintain, at least for a while.

There are benefits to running on a track, and there are a lot of things about running on the streets of Champaign that I don’t miss: Traffic, car exhaust, stop lights, curbs, potholes, imbalanced dogs, angry geese, angry people, extreme temperatures, and those darn concrete slabs!

When the weather warms up, I will once again take my place among Champaign’s outdoor runners.

But I doubt this will last for long.

As soon as the temperatures reach into the 90s, and we start experiencing high humidity, it’s back to the track for me!

UPCOMING TALK: “Hopi Runner Harry Chaca and the 1929 Vallejo Pre-Olympic National Marathon”, UC Riverside, February 7

I am scheduled to give a talk entitled “Hopi Runner Harry Chaca and the 1929 Vallejo Pre-Olympic National Marathon” this Thursday February 7 at 1:30PM.

My presentation is part of the two-day symposium, “Sherman Institute: The American Indian Boarding School Experience”, which will be held at UC Riverside’s Costo Library.

For more information about the gathering, please visit UC Riverside, Sherman Indian High School Host Symposium

Below is the schedule for the event:

Sherman Institute: The American Indian Boarding School Experience

February 7, 2013: Costo Library (4th Floor Rivera Library)

9 AM: Wlecome by Clifford E. Trafzer and Lorene Sisquoc, Moderators

Invocation by Henry Vasquez

9:30-10: David Adams (Cleveland St. University), “What We Don’t Know about the
History of Indian Boarding Schools”

10-10:30: Robert McCoy (Washington St. University), “Building to Assimilate:
Mission Architecture of Sherman Institute”

10:30-11: Diana Bahr (UCLA), “Robert Kennedy and Sherman Institute, A Promise
Fulfilled.”

11-11:30: Leleua Loupe (CSU Fullerton), “A Network of Control: Exploiting
Indigenous Labor in the West”

11:30-12: Kevin Whalen (UCR), “Indian School and Company Town: Sherman
Student-Laborers at Fontana Farms Company, 1907-1930″

Lunch Break

1:30-2: Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (University of Illinois), “Hopi Runner Harry
Chaca and the 1929 Vallejo Pre-Olympic National Marathon”

2-2:30: William O. Medina (Riverside Community College), “Patriotic Indians at
Sherman Institute”

2:30-3: Jason Davis (CSU San Bernardino), “Paradigm Shift: Assimilation to
Preservation at Sherman Indian School”

3-3:30: Kathleen Bartosh (UCLA), “Domesticity and Defense: The Female Experience
at the Sherman Institute, 1930-1960.”

3:30-4: Jean Keller (Palomar College), “Before Sherman Institute: The Perris Indian
School.”

Rupert Costo Chair, California Center for Native Nations, Native American Student
Programs, Native American Educational Program of UC Riverside and the Sherman
Indian Museum offer this Symposium as Sponsors.

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Sherman Institute: The American Indian Boarding School Experience

February 8, 2013, Sherman Indian High School Auditorium

9-10:  Panel 1,  Former Students, Staff, and Faculty

10-11:  Panel 2,  Current Students, Staff, and Faculty

11-12:  Panel 3,  Sherman Scholars and Historians

12-1:  Lunch Break

1-4:  Sherman School Museum is Open

2-3:  Visit to Sherman School Cemetery

Symposium is sponsored by the Sherman School Museum and Costo Chair, California Center for Native Nations, Native American Educational Program,

and Native American Student Programs of UC Riverside. 

New website to be launched on Hopi runners

HopiRunners.com logo

I have been working hard to develop a new website on Hopi runners: http://www.HopiRunners.com. The website will highlight the long tradition of running among the Hopi people of northeastern Arizona.

Here the public will find material on individual runners, links to photographs and videos, and articles and other sources related to Hopi running.

Every week, several people stumble upon BEYOND THE MESAS in search of information on Hopi runners. It seemed clear to me that an entire website ought to be dedicated to this topic.

I also want to highlight that the logo (above) for HopiRunners.com was designed by Wendell Sakiestewa of WenSaksDesigns. Wendell is Hopi, and he’s also a relative of mine.

The logo represents the continuity of Hopi running by depicting the transition of a traditional Hopi clan runner (far left) to a Hopi runner in modern running attire (far right).

I hope to have the website up and “running” at some point in February.

Navajo-Hopi Observer: Hopi High runners to compete in national Wings of America meet

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Click image to read full article

HOPI 5K LUNAR RUN – January 2, 2013

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Hopi XC team wins 23rd consecutive state championship (12 News)

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Here’s a story that 12 News in Arizona ran earlier this month on the Hopi High School boys cross country team. They recently won their 23rd consecutive State championship, and the Hopi High girls cross country team won their sixth State title.

In the early 1900s, newspaper reporters and their illustrators often gave bizarre reasons why Hopis did so well in running events.

Some said that Hopis excelled in running because they had once been chased by Spanish vaqueros (cowboys), and rather than fighting the Spaniards, the Hopis chose to run away.

Hopis had supposedly done this so many times that they became great runners.

Well, needless to say, I was quite pleased to see that the reporter for 12 News focused her reporting on Hopi culture, and the long tradition of running among our people.

A Runners Forum For Our Future, January 2-4, 2013 (Moenkopi)

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This is going to be an incredible event.

Oglala Lakota Olympian Billy Mills will be the keynote speaker, alongside Tarahumarah runners from Copper Canyon in Mexico. Navajo runner Alvina Begay will also present.

I was asked to present at the forum, but I’m unable to make the trip back home during the first week in January.

Please help spread the word about this gathering of Hopi and other indigenous runners!

“Hopi Running” – University of Illinois, Springfield, Nov. 5, 2012, 7PM

“Tracking Tewanima” by Cindy Yurth of the Navajo Times

On September 1st I traveled back home to deliver a talk on Louis Tewanima at the Louis Tewanima Footrace Pre-Race Dinner. A reporter for the Navajo Times named Cindy Yurth was present in the audience, and recently published a story about the gathering. A special thanks to Yurth for granting me permission to republish her article on my blog.

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Tracking Tewanima

Centennial footrace draws record crowd to mesas

By CIndy Yurth

Tséyi’ Bureau

SHUNGOPOVI, Ariz. — Louis Tewanima may be the most celebrated Hopi runner, but he himself would have admitted he was not the fastest, a Hopi historian told the crowd gathered Saturday night for a celebration of the centennial of Tewanima’s bringing home an Olympic silver medal to this tiny but spectacular hamlet on top of Second Mesa.

The fastest Hopi ever was probably some unheralded farmer who never had a chance to go to school — or was forced to, as Tewanima was.

Still, Tewanima was the one who brought home the medal, and this past weekend Hopis along with well-wishers from around the world celebrated the centennial of that feat with footraces of varying lengths along some of the very trails Tewanima himself once graced.

“It was great to follow in his footsteps,” said the second-place finisher in the commemorative 10K race, 16-year-old Kyle Sumatzkuku of Moencopi and Mishongnovi. “I look up to him, even though he was even smaller than me.”

Sumatzkuku is not a large person by any means, but he’s probably correct in assuming Tewanima was smaller. Tewanima was 5-foot-4 1/2 and 115 pounds, according to Illinois University Professor Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, who gave the historical address Saturday night. In the press of his day, he was referred to as “the little Hopi redskin.”

This past weekend, though, he was everywhere. Perhaps literally.

“We believe they (the spirits of the departed) come to us in the clouds,” said race announcer Bruce Talawyma. “So he’s all around us today.”

Somewhere else, in fact, the race might have been cancelled when a torrential downpour washed out part of the trail Saturday. But Hopis, those ultimate dry farmers, know better than to scoff at moisture, even when it comes at such an inopportune time.

“That’s what we’re running for, right?” asked Sam Taylor, Tewanima’s great-nephew and one of the organizers of the race, at the pre-race carb-loading party that featured both the traditional spaghetti and a Korean noodle dish, courtesy of a Second-Mesa war bride and her churchmates. That’s a whole ‘nother story.

Running for rain was certainly the rule  in Tewanima’s time. As a member of the Sand Clan, Gilbert explained, Tewanima and his kinsmen were charged with running to far away places and back to “bring back the rain.”

That could be part of why Tewanima offered to run for Carlisle Indian School even though he was dragged to the school after protesting Natives being forced to study at Western institutions — and how he ultimately ended up in the Olympics.

As for the history of the Louis Tewanima race itself, it was mostly started because the organizers — the Hopi Athletic Association — saw the need for a competitive footrace on Hopi to give Hopi runners a goal. Naming it after Tewanima was almost an afterthought, said Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, who helped organize the first Tewanima Footrace in 1972.

“I’m not really sure how Louis Tewanima was brought into it,” Kuwanwisiwma confessed.

One sure thing is that the race succeeded in bringing attention to Tewanima’s feat, which may have been nearly forgotten otherwise.

“Everybody knew Louis Tewanima, just like we know everyone in the village,” explained race volunteer Kathy Swimmer of Shungopovi. “When I was growing up, him and his wife used to sit on their front porch in the morning and watch the kids load into the school bus. We just thought they were a nice old couple. I had no idea he was an Olympian until I joined the high school booster club and started helping with the race.”

After winning the silver medal, Tewanima returned to Shungopovi and never ran again except for religious reasons and pleasure.

As Gilbert mentioned in his talk, Tewanima himself knew he was not the fastest Hopi and never had been.

In the course of his research for a book on Hopi running he plans to publish soon, Gilbert uncovered a tale that he thinks sheds some light on the Tewanima era.

Apparently, Tewanima and fellow Hopi track star Philip Zeyouma, who attended Sherman Institute, were both home for a break and people encouraged them to race each other to prove once and for all which man was the best runner.

As both men appeared on the starting line in their school-issue tracksuits, the older men of the village started teasing them.

“You don’t look much like Hopi runners,” taunted one man.

“If you think you can do better, then come and show us!” challenged Tewanima.

Two 50-year-old men stepped forward.

“According to the New York Times report, they had essentially no clothes on, no shoes on, and looked like they were dying of consumption,” Gilbert said.

However, “By the time they reached the six-mile mark, those older men were so far ahead that Louis Tewanima and Philip Zeyouma dropped out of the race.”

The two 50-year-olds crossed the finish line “and just kept going,” Gilbert said.

So neither Tewanima nor Zeyouma was the fastest Hopi. And yet, Gilbert argued, they deserve to be honored, particularly Tewanima.

“This new generation of Hopi runners represented a transition in Hopi running,” the historian said.

“Whereas before people ran for transportation, and for religious reasons,” Gilbert said, “Tewanima ran as an ambassador of his people. He used running to create a privileged condition for himself at the Indian school. He used running to broaden his experience of the world.”

And as for the Louis Tewanima Footrace, “it gives testimony to the importance of running in Hopi society,” Gilbert said. “It celebrates the continuity of Hopi running.”

A record crowd of 361 runners would seem to agree.

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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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