A bronze coin for a Hopi alumna

Photo by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

In 2001, the Sherman Indian Museum had this bronze coin designed to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of Sherman Institute (now called Sherman Indian High School). Before I conducted research on the Hopi Reservation, Lorene Sisquoc, director of the Sherman Indian Museum, gave me several of these coins to give to the Hopi alumni that I interviewed.

One of these former students was Bessie Humetewa from the village of Bacavi. She attended the school from 1920 to 1928.  Bessie also appears in Beyond the Mesas where she recalls that she stayed at Sherman “all eight years without coming home.”

At the time of the interview Bessie was blind, and so when I gave her the coin she examined it with her hands. Before I could tell her what was depicted on the coin, she said to me, “this is Sherman.”

She was able to discern the raised design of the school’s main building, the palm tree, and the superintendent’s office. The bronze coin reconnected Bessie to her alma mater. It took her back seventy-six years to when she last attended the Indian school in Riverside, California.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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Copyright Notice

© 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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