Archive for the 'Protocols' Category

Misrepresenting the Hopi with photos

Earlier this week I blogged about a tourist who took a photograph of a home at Orayvi and posted it to his blog. The tourist admitted that there were signs up that forbid people from taking photos, but he took one anyway. It appears from his post that the reason he published the photo was to show his readers how poor he perceived the Hopi to be.

In my earlier post I mentioned that some Hopis do not want tourists to take photos of their villages because they desire to protect their privacy. Still others post these signs at the entrance of the village so that tourists will not misrepresent them. The sandstone homes and the condition of the village may cause outsiders to conclude that the Hopi people are poor and in desperate need of help. But is this the message that the people of Orayvi want the world to believe or hear?

I wonder if the author of Boquete Panama Guide has ever been inside an Orayvi home? During his recent visit to the reservation, did he speak to the owner of this or other Hopi homes? Did he hear their stories about how members of their families/clans built these homes in the early 1900s or earlier? Did they tell him that people from the village once traveled by foot to Nuvadakovi (San Francisco Peaks) to cut down wood beams to use for their ceilings, and carried them back to the village? If so, did he see the pride in their faces when they told him that their families have lived in these homes for more than a hundred years? Did they explain to him that many years ago the people of the village decided to live without modern conveniences such as electricity and running water? Did he care enough to ask? Did he care enough to ask why?

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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Tourists, Cameras, and Hopi Privacy

Today I read a blog about an American who now lives in Boquete, Panama. This week he visited the Hopi Reservation and took a picture of a home at Orayvi on Third Mesa and posted it to his blog called Boquete Panama Guide. Here is what he writes:

It has been years since my last visit and I wanted to see if the life of the Hopi had changed. Everything was closed, the poverty obvious and although there were signs up not to take photos I took one of this dwelling.

Recently a friend asked me why Hopis post signs at the entrance of their villages that forbid tourists from taking photos. I told him that one of the reasons is because Hopis want to protect their privacy.

Think of it in this way…

Imagine that you live in a remote area of North America that receives thousands of tourists each year. Your house is unlike most homes in the United States. It is made of sandstones and situated close to a highway. Throughout the year tourists zoom by your house, abruptly stop their cars, roll down their windows, and snap photos of your home. Sometimes this happens when you are sitting out front drinking ice tea and visiting with members of your family. Other times your children are playing outside. But it does not matter to the tourists if anyone is home, or whether people are outside. All they want is a photo of your home, and to them, the photo is only enhanced if you and your children are part of it. You sometimes wonder what people do with these photos. You imagine that some people put the picture of your home in a photo album, a book, make postcards and calendars from it, or sell it.

Concerned about your family’s privacy, you decide that enough is enough and so you put a sign in your front yard that reads: “Please do not take photos of my home.” And then you wait. It does not take long for the next tourist to drive by. He slows down. He reads the sign, then looks at your home, then reads the sign again. A Nikon camera is laying on the passenger seat. He finds himself in a dilemma, but he decides to honor your request. Five minutes later, another car approaches your home. These people stop and read your sign, then look around to see if anyone is looking, roll down their window, take several photos of your home and speed away. This happens day after day and it will only increase during the summer months.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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

“I is for Indian Village” – Photographs and Hopi protocols

[UPDATE: Dec. 20, 2:36PM CST – The blog post that I refer to below has been removed from the Craftista website]

This morning I received a Google Alert that directed me to a blog called Craftista. The author of the blog belongs to a blogging group that is currently doing a A to Z meme, and so the author decided that “I” would stand for “Indian Village.” In November, the author visited the Hopi Reservation, took a picture of a village, and posted it to the author’s blog. The photo does not have a caption, but the author refers to the village as a “quaint Indian village.” The picture is of Lower Moencopi near Tuba City, Arizona. A kiva is clearly visible in the photo. About a hundred yards from where this picture was taken, a sign welcomes visitors to the village. The sign reads:

WELCOME TO MOENKOPI VILLAGE, TO ALL VISITORS, YOU ARE WELCOME TO RESPECTFULLY VISIT OUR VILLAGE AND OBSERVE OUR CEREMONIES = ABSOLUTELY NOT PERMITTED = 1. NO SOUND RECORDINGS, 2. NO SKETCHING, 3. NO PHOTOGRAPHY OF ANY KIND, 4. NO REMOVAL OF ANY OBJECTS, 5. NO VIDEO TAKING

The purpose of this post is not to blast the author of Craftista for posting a photo of Moencopi on the author’s blog. Many people who visit our village do so respectfully. Rather, I want to inform people about protocols that Hopi villages ask visitors to follow and respect. Hopis established these protocols to protect their intellectual property, privacy, and to keep people from publishing photographs of village structures, shrines, and ceremonies.

The producers of BEYOND THE MESAS received permission from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office to include old black and white photos of Hopi villages in the documentary, but we did not film or photograph exterior shots of present-day villages, kivas, or other religious sites.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert


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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