Hopi Music Repatriation Project

The Hopi of northeastern Arizona are among the most researched indigenous people groups in North America. Over the years anthropologists, historians, psychologists, ethnographers and many others have conducted research on the Hopi Reservation.  Their scholarship has appeared in journals, books, internet websites, and even films. Some of these scholars collaborated with Hopi people, followed research protocols established by the Hopi Tribe, and sought ways to give back to the Hopi community. Others did not. But the purpose of today’s post is not for me to write about people who have exploited Hopis of their intellectual property or conducted research on the reservation without permission from the Hopi Tribe. Instead I want to introduce you to someone whom I believe has done the complete opposite.

While a graduate student in the Arts Administration program at Columbia University, Trevor Reed from the Hopi village of Hotevilla developed a research project called the “Hopi Music Repatriation Project” (HMRP). This project focuses on field recordings of Hopi songs that ethnomusicologists conducted during the 1930s and 1940s. The recordings are now archived at Columbia University’s Center for Ethnomusicology. As Reed points out on his blog Hopi Music Repatriation Project: “On one hand, these recordings are invaluable research tools for ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, and for the American public, who ideally should be educated in the indigenous heritage of the land on which they live. On the other hand, the recordings are an important link to Hopi past and identity, and contain highly sensitive material.” So what are the questions that this project seeks to answer? Again, Reed notes: “based on Hopi and U.S. concepts of intellectual property, to whom do these recordings rightfully belong and what should be done with them?”

I urge you to visit Reed’s blog and learn more about this important project. His current post, “Repatriation Initiative Receives Endorsement from Hopi Elders,” describes a recent meeting that he had with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office and the Hopi Cultural Resources Advisory Task Team. At this meeting Reed gave a update on his project and played some of the Hopi songs that he uncovered at the University’s Center for Ethnomusicology. As Reed recalls, a highlight for him was when he played a particular song at the meeting and those in attendance joined in the singing. To visit Reed’s blog, click here.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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2 Responses to “Hopi Music Repatriation Project”


  1. 1 Debbie Reese January 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Several years ago, I was doing research on Pueblo stories “retold” by children’s book authors who are not Native. While doing that research, I came across songs that were recorded at Nambe in the early 1900s. The recordings are at the Indiana musicology archives. I wrote and asked for a copy of the songs, but was told that I’d have to write to the individual who “owned” the songs and get his permission to have a copy. That “owner” was a researcher.

    I’ll click on over to see how Reed is doing his work.

  2. 2 Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert January 14, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Debbie, thanks for your comment. The idea that a researcher “owns” a song from Nambe Pueblo, and that a person from that community must ask his/her permission to have a copy, is appalling to say the least.


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© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2017. 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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Foreword to Kevin Whalen’s Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program, 1900-1945

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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