Filming “Maize”

Last week we began filming the University of Illinois portion of Maize, a film by Hopi filmmaker Victor Masayesva, Jr. of Hotevilla. In the first photo, taken by my colleague John McKinn, I am filming a group of UofI graduate students from the Department of Crop Sciences planting four rows of Hopi sweet corn.

The second photo is of Professor Stephen Moose as he explains the different varieties of corn that his students planted in the plot, including Tzeltal Maya (southern Mexico), Nahua (central Mexico), Hopi, and genetically modified corn.

The corn should be up by the end of the week. We’ll continue filming throughout the summer.

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Photograph by John McKinn

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Photograph by John McKinn

5 Responses to “Filming “Maize””


  1. 1 feminineocean May 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    I’m a nurse working and living in the heart of Hopiland, Polacca. My corn is already growing. I trust you will include some reference to Roberto Rodgriguez and the work he and his wife have done about Maize.

    • 2 Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert May 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Thanks, feminineocean! I always appreciate your comments. I’m not sure who will be included in the film. A lot of that will be left up to Masayesva and other film producers. Glad to hear that your corn is up. We usually plant in early May, but during that time in Champaign/Urbana we received too much rain to plant. Can you imagine that? Too much rain!

  2. 3 A Pueblo Woman of the Toad Clan May 17, 2012 at 9:20 am

    I am curious as to why you are flirting with danger in planting gmo corn? Past reports I’ve read say gmo pollen can spread and “infect” an area. Wind carries pollen.

    • 4 Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert May 17, 2012 at 9:48 am

      A Pueblo Woman of the Toad Clan, thanks for taking the time to post a comment. “flirting with danger”? The DNA strand of our corn goes back hundreds/thousands of years – long before the introduction of GMO corn. It has survived (just as we have survived as Native people), and it will continue to survive into the future. We are not taking GMO corn back to Hopi. The planting of this plot is in the middle of the Midwest – in the middle of GMO corn country. So let’s wait and see how our indigenous corn does alongside “Modern” GMO corn. Although we will take measures to keep down the possibility of cross-pollination, I am confident that the different varieties of indigenous corn will do well. Thanks again!

      • 5 A Pueblo Woman of the Toad Clan May 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

        Whew! Thank you for your response. I am a farmer in the Rio Grande Valley and founded the San Felipe Farmers’ Market for all our people 11 years ago. I have been following and learning all there is to grasp on gmo seeds. Several years ago a friend who is a biologist/farmer tested our native white corn and found how hardy and strong it is for the desert environment. I am also a seed saver and try to keep our tribal members informed of dangers posed by gmo seeds as well as using pesticides and herbicides, such as, Round-up. I have confidence in the strength of our indigenous. If possible, I would like to know the outcome of the trials.


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© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2016. 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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