I run because I’m Hopi

I have been running regularly for the past twelve months. This winter I found myself running in all kinds of wet and frigid conditions. Sometimes when I run, I imagine myself on the dirt trails out at Hopi, and not the city streets and paths of Champaign, Illinois. But Hopis have a long tradition of running beyond the mesas, and I like to think that this tradition still exists in the Midwest.

I am not the only one in my immediate family who runs.  My wife is an avid runner, and our daughters refer to themselves as “Hopi runners.”  They are also Irish on their mother’s side and I often remind them that the Irish are known for running long distances as well. I hope they will appreciate this more as they get older.

My daughter is already quite the runner.  I am constantly amazed by her running form and how effortlessly she makes running appear.  She and her sisters are sure to run cross-country in middle and high school.

Some people run to lose weight or to relieve stress.  Others run to lower their cholesterol or blood pressure. Although these are great benefits of running, I tend to focus less on these reasons. A friend once asked me why I run.  I simply replied, “I run because I’m Hopi, and that’s what Hopis do.”

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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1 Response to “I run because I’m Hopi”


  1. 1 Phil K March 11, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Excellent. Now we just need some stories about this.


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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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