Archive for the 'Phoenix Indian School' Category

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

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

“But we never spoke to each other” Elizabeth Mosier on the Phoenix Indian School

This evening I want to direct you to a blog post by novelist Elizabeth Mosier on the Phoenix Indian School. Much of what has been written about off-reservation Indian boarding schools is told from the perspective of Indian students or government officials. But non-Natives lived in the communities where the schools were located, and their perspectives about the students and schools are not often highlighted. On her blog, Mosier describes attending Central High School in Phoenix, which was right next to the Indian school. She occasionally saw the students from a distance, but never spoke to them, and they never spoke to her.

Mosier’s opening paragraph reminds me of the Preface to David Wallace Adams’ Education for Extinction. Adams begins his book by describing what it was like for him to drive past Sherman Institute as a kid – fascinated that “real” Indians went to school there. So take a few minutes and head on over to Mosier’s blog and read her post.

Hopis and Christmas at Indian schools

Over the years I have come across several documents and other sources, including children’s books and newspaper accounts, that involve Hopi students and Christmas at Sherman Institute and the Phoenix Indian School. Many Hopis at off-reservation Indian boarding schools looked forward to Christmas, but not every Hopi enthusiastically celebrated the holiday.

In the children’s book Climbing Sun (1980), Marjorie Thayer and Elizabeth Emanuel note that prior to Hubert Honanie’s first Christmas at Sherman in the late 1920s, the school’s superintendent, Frank M. Conser, mandated that students attend church the Sunday before Christmas day. While Hubert sat in the chapel service, he listened carefully to what the minister said about the birth of Jesus, but he did not see why this baby was so important. Hubert concluded that Christmas held little significance. Although he liked having the day off from school and he enjoyed eating the traditional Christmas food of turkey and cranberries, he would have “preferred stewed rabbit or mutton and corn” prepared according to Hopi custom.

By the 1930s the tradition of Christmas had become very popular among Hopi children on the reservation. In The Hopi Indians of Old Oraibi (1972), anthropologist Mischa Titiev observed that in December 1933, Hopi women walked to Kykotsmovi at the foot of Third Mesa to purchase Christmas presents for the Orayvi children. Titiev noted that several children had taken part in “Christmas programs” at places such as Sherman and the Phoenix Indian School, and several of their parents enjoyed giving them presents on Christmas. Afraid that the children would be disappointed if they did not receive gifts, the women purchased enough presents for each child in the village.

Although the Christmas tradition continues with many Hopis today, Hopis incorporate their culture into the holiday as well. Hopi artists demonstrate this through their art, and some Hopis, particularly those who belong to church congregations on the reservation, still sing Christmas carols in the Hopi language.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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[Portions of this post were adapted from a newspaper article that I wrote titled "Christmas experiences at Sherman Institute and Phoenix Indian School", Hopi Tutuveni, December 21, 2005, Issue 26, p. 6]


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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