Spanish mission buildings and sandstone homes

The producers of Beyond the Mesas were very fortunate that Marsah Balenquah from Bacavi on Third Mesa agreed to be interviewed for the film. In the documentary she explains that she attended Sherman for thirteen or fourteen years. At one point in the film she describes her impression of the school’s buildings. Built by Indian students in a Spanish Mission architectural style, the buildings did not resemble the sandstone homes she and other Hopis were familiar with on the reservation.

This photograph was taken when Marsah attended the Indian school in Riverside from 1920 to 1934. In the photo girls are standing in a line waiting for roll call and inspection. Everyday life at Sherman was very regimented. An American flag drapes from the portico of the school’s main building. Photo courtesy of the Sherman Indian Museum.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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3 Responses to “Spanish mission buildings and sandstone homes”


  1. 1 Phil K January 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

    An impressive sad fact of growing up a Euro American in Riverside, California where the Sherman Institute is located is that no adults I can recall ever talked about Sherman Institute and the people there. It was like it did not exist or had nothing to do with anyone though the campus was acres and acres of green grass, trees, and buildings (as noted above) you could not see well from the main road, Magnolia Avenue, when you drove by.

    On Sunday’s in the Fifties, a large group would walk to the movie theater while I worked in a gas station and watched this blocks long line of young native people quietly walking past the Texaco gas station where I worked.

    And as I look back I always wonder, why did not anyone speak up about this great expanse of young native people. Not at home, nor at public schools, nor churches was anything really spoken of about this place, Sherman Institute in Riverside, California.

    Wednesday 1/27/10

  2. 2 William Medina January 27, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I have lived in Riverside my entire life and agree with you. It seems as if Sherman Indian High School is invisible. I teach at a local community college and very few of my students have ever heard of Sherman. Maybe Sherman’s invisibility reflects the public school’s neglect of California Indians. High schools in particular have done a poor job teaching students about California’s original inhabitants.

  3. 3 Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert January 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks Phil and William for taking the time to comment. I think the best people suited to answer this question are those who live (or used to live) in Riverside. So thanks again for your comments.

    I also want to let people know that William (Bill) wrote a Ph.D. dissertation at UC Riverside titled “Selling Indians at Sherman Institute, 1902-1922.” In this study he critically examines the ways school officials and members of the Riverside community used Sherman as a tourist attraction. I will write more about Bill’s dissertation in a future post.


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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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