Archive for the 'Hopi youth' Category

Spending time with my dad on Second Mesa

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Last month I spent time with my dad, Willard Sakiestewa Gilbert, on Second Mesa. As some readers know, I often write and speak about his influence on my life and career. [See my post “Job Shadowing my Father, and my Path to Tenure”]

He, along with my mom and other members of my family, accompanied me to the Village of Shungopavi where I gave a talk on Hopi runners at the Louis Tewanima Footrace Pre-Race Dinner.

The photograph above is of me standing with my dad – right before I went inside the Shungopavi Community Center to present (below).

A special thanks to Sam Taylor and the Louis Tewanima Association for the opportunity to participate in their event.

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Paatuwaqatsi Run featured in Indian Country Today

“This is Screenshot 2015-09-02 08.53.36 copynot a race…It’s a remembrance run to keep the ancient trails alive.” – Bucky Preston, Village of Walpi

“It’s a monument to community, heritage, and preservation.” – Kim Secakuku

There’s a nice write-up about the Paatuwaqatsi – Water Is Life – 30 mile Hopi run in yesterday’s Indian Country Today. The article highlights Hopi understandings of running, and reminds Hopi and non-Hopi people of the “spiritual and cultural” purpose of running in Hopi culture. The event, which includes the 10 mile loop, will take place on September 12 at the Village of Polacca. For more information about the run, click here. Also, click on the following link to read the entire article by Lee Allen entitled “Hopi Run for Life Celebrates the Sanctity of Water.”

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!

A new running partner and those darn concrete slabs

Illinois is experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Today, it’s already in the low 70s, which is great weather to run in. Yesterday, I took advantage of the nice weather and hit the running trails near my neighborhood.

This winter I started running with a new friend named John who lives a block away from me. In the past I would usually run by myself. This is still the case, but once a week I run with John.

He is a stronger runner than me, which makes him a good running partner. And he’s already saved me from two potentially really bad spills. They both happened when we were running on uneven sidewalks with trip lips sticking up from between the concrete slabs.

While running at a decent pace, I tripped over those lips, lunged forward, and John quickly turned around each time to catch my fall. Had it not been for John, I would have hit the pavement face first – a bloody mess for sure!

So my near falls have taught me a few lessons: pay better attention to those darn concrete slabs, don’t let your feet drag (easy to do when you’re tired), and keep John running in the lead.

Running through exhaust

Illinois cornfield and rural road - Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

On Friday of last week I went on a run that brought me to the middle of corn fields outside the city of Champaign, Illinois. As I plugged away on a country road, a large truck drove by and I got a mouth full of exhaust. This is one of my least favorite parts about running on rural roads.

But it reminded me of Hopis during the 1910s and 1920s who “ate exhaust” in many marathons that they competed in. It was not uncommon for newspaper reporters or race officials to drive their automobiles 10 or 15 feet in front of the lead runners.  Some runners were so overcome with exhaust that they quit.

Back out at Hopi, runners did not have to contend with automobile exhaust, but when they competed in events beyond the mesas, it became a serious issue for them to manage.

It’s difficult enough to run long distances with high heat and humidity, and sore legs and feet, but adding the heavy exhaust element to running must have seemed unbearable.

And yet the vast majority of Hopi runners pressed on to complete (and sometimes win) the marathons that they started.

For the runners, the exhaust was simply another obstacle for them to overcome. It was one more hurdle for them to navigate through when they ran beyond their homelands in northeastern Arizona.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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

Behind the camera at the Oraivi Footrace

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photographs by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

For the past five years, Juwan Nuvayokva, an accomplished Hopi long distance runner, has organized the Oraivi 8K Footrace and 2 Mile Fun Run and Walk on the Hopi Reservation. Both races begin and end in the village of Oraivi on Third Mesa.

Last summer I received permission from Nuvayokva to take pictures of the Oraivi Footrace, which was held on August 9, 2009. When I arrived at the venue, I was informed that the person scheduled to photograph the race was unable to attend, and so the organizers designated me as the “official photographer” for the event.

Some of my pictures are posted on the Oraivi Footrace website, including other photos by George Silas and Lavanya Polacca. The above slideshow includes 41 of the nearly 1,800 photographs that I took of the race.

This year’s Oraivi 8K Footrace and 2 Mile Fun Run and Walk will take place on Sunday August 8, 2010. All individuals are encouraged to participate. There will also be a new race called the 1/2 Mile Kids Dash. For more information, please visit the Oraivi Footrace website at

If you are pictured in the slideshow, and you would like a high-resolution copy of the photograph, feel free to contact me and I will send you the picture via email:

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Copyright Notice

© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2015. 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 in the Department of History and a Dean's Fellow and Conrad Humanities Scholar in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences 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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