Click above or on the below link to see the 15 minute version of Run Hopi as aired on ESPN! 30 min version to air on Friday July 29. http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=17131436
In May of this year, I was interviewed by ESPN producer Scott Harves for a film on Hopi running and the Hopi cross country team. The interview took place in the Department of History library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
During the two-hour interview, Harves asked me to talk about Hopi culture and society, but most of his questions centered on the long history of Hopis and distance running.
Having won 26 consecutive state titles, the Hopi High cross country team has received considerable attention from media outlets, including a recent story by John Branch in the New York Times.
A 15 minute version of the film, Run Hopi, is scheduled to air on ESPN this Sunday July 24 at 10:00AM and 11:00PM (eastern time) on the SportsCenter (http://espn.go.com/video/sportscenter). It will likely be aired several more times throughout the summer.
A longer 30 minute version of the film will be aired on July 29 at 8:30PM (eastern time) on ESPN2.
To learn more about Run Hopi, and to watch a trailer of the film, see Andy Hall’s article on the ESPN FrontRow website entitled “Sunday’s SC Featured tells of Hopi reservation cross-country dynasty.”
Coordinator, Barbara Chester Award
You can learn more about the Hopi Foundation at www.hopifoundation.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 6, 2016
The Hopi Foundation
Phone: (928) 734-2380
Argentinian Doctor to Receive Hopi Award
Dr. Diana Kordon of Argentina will receive the 7th Barbara Chester Award for her clinical work healing survivors of torture. For four decades, Kordon has provided psychological services to the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and others affected by atrocities committed by the military dictatorship in her country. She is currently the coordinator of the Argentine Team of Psychological Work and Research. Presentation of the Award will occur on October 8, 2016 on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona.
The Barbara Chester Award is the world’s first anti-torture award and is a project of the Hopi Foundation. It includes a $10,000 cash prize and a Hopi handcrafted silver eagle feather sculpture. These will be formally presented at the Saturday, October 8th event on the Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. Previous recipients are Shari Eppel of Zimbabwe (2000), Juan Almendares of Honduras (2001), Allen Keller of New York (2003), Alp Ayan of Turkey (2006), Mary Fabri of Chicago (2009) and Dr. Naasson Munyandamutsa of Rwanda (2013).
During the “Dirty War” period from 1976 to 1983, Argentina’s military dictatorship killed between 10,000 and 30,000 citizens. “The situation was terrible,” Kordon recalled. “Professionals were disappearing. We had to move regularly. I was close to being arrested at one time.”
In her quest for information about her missing colleagues, Kordon soon met The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women who had brought international attention to the plight of the Desaparecidos (citizens arrested and never seen again) through highly publicized weekly vigils.
“When these mothers learned about my profession they asked if I could offer psychological assistance because many of the members were experiencing depression,” Kordon recalls. With them, she created and coordinated the Equipo de Atención Psicológica a Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Team of Psychological Assistance to Mothers of Plaza de Mayo).
Dr. Nora Sveaass says Kordon was “among the first to identify the relationship between the violations perpetrated by the dictatorship and the traumatic effects that these violations had…not only on the affected individuals but on society at large. The establishment of EATIP (Equipo Argentino de Trabajo e Investigación Psicosocial) in 1990 represented a further strengthening and systematization of this important, pioneering work.”
The Barbara Chester Award is given as a tribute to honor the life and work of the late Dr. Barbara Chester, a pioneering clinician who directed the first treatment program for torture survivors in the United States. Later she treated indigenous refugees from Central and South America, as well as survivors from more than 50 countries. In particular, her work stressed the role of culture in determining both how an individual experienced the trauma of torture as well as the best approach for recovery.
How the world’s first anti-torture award came to be sponsored in a small and remote non-gaming Native American reservation is a story in itself. About 18,000 Hopi people live in northeastern Arizona, the oldest continuously inhabited location in North America. Given the remoteness of Hopi, their culture has survived largely intact in spite of focused efforts at forced assimilation. Based on her pioneering work establishing the Center for the Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, Dr. Chester was contracted by the Hopi Tribe and later moved to Arizona to work for the Hopi Foundation. After her death and to honor her work, The Hopi Foundation established and promotes The Barbara Chester Award.
Cities are seen as attracting diverse people who learn from each other and develop sophisticated and tolerant values. To an outsider, Hopi is merely a collection of 11 villages in a barren landscape with a culture substantially at variance with “modern” America. The reservation seems an unlikely source of the first international prize given to clinicians who work with torture survivors, yet it is from this land, this culture and these people that a sophisticated network of tolerance and support has reached around the world. The Hopi help humanity heal from the very worst that humans can do to each other.
Nikishna Polequaptewa, graduate of the Hopi Foundation’s Leadership Program states, “In Hopi, by integrating all aspects of life into balance with ourselves, the environment and our spiritual beliefs, the wellbeing of individuals, the local community, and the world as a whole is served.”
**Click here for official Press Release.
Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Six years ago, I received an email from my former graduate advisor Clifford Trafzer about a student named Kevin Whalen, who was conducting research on Sherman Institute, an off-reservation Indian boarding school in Riverside, California. Although Cliff had written to me about his students in the past, his enthusiasm for this student, coupled with my interest in Sherman, caused me to take special notice of Kevin and his work. At the time of Cliff’s email, he and I were putting together an edited collection on Sherman with Oregon State University Press, and he wanted me to consider including Kevin’s essay in our book, a chapter he had written entitled “Labored Learning.”
In the academy it is common for established scholars to “guard turf” and to be critical of others who do work in their area of research. All junior faculty experience this to some degree, and even I allowed this mentality to influence my initial thoughts about Kevin. Who was this “star,” as Cliff described him, and what more could he possibly add to what I had already done? While these were my original reactions to Cliff’s description of Kevin, my opinion of him quickly changed once I began reading his essay. It took only a few pages into his chapter for me to realize that his work was too good, and his writing too polished, for me to deny that there was something unique and special about him and his project.
In the chapter that Kevin wrote for our collection, he explained that beginning in the early 1900s, officials at Sherman sent Native students off-campus to work as domestic servants, ranch hands, and many other occupations. He noted how school superintendents and local farmers and ranchers used the agricultural industry of Southern California to further deeply held U.S. government assimilation goals and to fill the region’s labor needs. And he explored the reasons why Indian students agreed (and often requested) to work “beyond” the “school walls” at places such as the Fontana Ranch, and at the many citrus orchards in the greater Riverside area. Although I had written about Hopi students who participated in the school’s Outing Program in my book Education beyond the Mesas, Kevin took the conversation of Indian labor at Sherman to a different level. Even at this point, I could see that he was establishing himself as an authority on Sherman and Indian labor at off-reservation Indian boarding schools.
While Kevin and I share an interest in Sherman Institute and Indian boarding school histories in general, there are other areas in our career trajectories that we have in common. We both graduated from the same PhD program, and we were mentored and taught by the same faculty, including Cliff and Ojibwe historian Rebecca “Monte” Kugel. As graduate students at the University of California, Riverside, we learned the importance of working with Native communities, and not just writing about them. Our professors taught us the value of contributing something useful to Indian tribes, and they urged us to consider how our research could benefit Native communities.
In many ways, the education that we received in Native history at UC Riverside was a combination of the theoretical and the practical. Familiarity with archives and the process of honing skills needed to analyze documents was only part of our training. Cliff and Monte also encouraged us to leave the comforts of campus and interact with and work alongside Native people. Kevin certainly experienced this. As a graduate student, he regularly accompanied Cliff to community gatherings on and off Indian reservations in Southern California, including the Colorado River Indian Tribes. And he interviewed numerous individuals for his book, including the director of the Sherman Indian Museum, Lorene Sisquoc, and former Sherman student Galen Townsend, to name a few.
After Kevin completed his PhD from UC Riverside, he became my colleague at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and continued working on his book as a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow of American Indian Studies. At the time, the American Indian Studies Program was at the center of a major national and international controversy surrounding the university’s dehiring of the program’s new faculty member Steven Salaita. Although he had just arrived on campus, Kevin stood by my colleagues and me as we protested the university’s decision and demonstrated our commitment to shared governance and academic freedom. Nobody expected Kevin to join the fight, but he eagerly engaged in the protests, and soon it became clear to all that our struggle had also become his struggle.
While Kevin found himself in the middle of a highly politicized situation, and one that required huge amounts of time and energy from the program, he did not allow it to distract him from his major research project. In fact, nearly every time I walked into his office, he was revising some aspect of his book. Whether he was agonizing over external reader reports or adding new material to chapters, Kevin was always working. He gained valuable insights from faculty, including our director, Robert Warrior, and twice participated in writer workshops where colleagues and graduate students critiqued his work and offered suggestions on ways to improve it. During his yearlong fellowship at Illinois, Kevin and I also spent hours together—usually over a meal, coffee, or a craft beer—talking about his book. We had long conversations about the field of American Indian studies, the growing literature on Indian boarding school studies, and the important contributions that he was making with his scholarship.
The following book, then, has emerged from numerous spaces, and each of these spaces has influenced Native Students at Work in unique ways. They have all done their part to transform what started as a chapter of an edited collection into the present volume. Kevin will no doubt write other books. He may even one day write a second book on Sherman or some other aspect of Indian boarding schools. But for me, this book will always remain special. Not many scholars get an opportunity to help shepherd a project along from its infancy to publication. I did just that, and I remain grateful to Kevin for allowing me to accompany him on this journey.
For those who might be interested….
I will be speaking on Hopi runners and U.S. marathons at this year’s Louis Tewanima Footrace Pre-race “carb” dinner. The event will take place at the Shungopavi Community Center – Village of Shungopavi, Hopi REz – Saturday Sept. 5 @5PM MST.
I first presented at the Pre-race dinner in September 2012. Cindy Yurth of the Navajo Times did a nice write-up about the 2012 presentation and race in her article “Tracking Tewanima.” I blogged about it here.
I look forward to seeing some of you at the event!
This week Beyond the Mesas exceeded 100,000 clicks since it was launched in November 2009. To mark this milestone, I thought I would publish a Q&A that I participated in for the First Peoples New Directions website in 2012. The Q&A covers a variety of topics related to blogging and my reasons for blogging as a Hopi person. The original post can be accessed here.
Beyond the Mesas: A Q&A with Blogger Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert
September 17th, 2012 – Posted by Natasha Varner
Hopi scholar and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor, Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert has been maintaining his blog, Beyond the Mesas, for nearly three years. In his posts, he integrates his research on education and running with issues of Hopi politics, sovereignty, and self-determination. Last August, we included his blog in our roundup of Indigenous blogs to follow because of his admirable efforts to make scholarly research accessible to a broader public that included his home community. Today, Dr. Sakiestewa Gilbert discusses how he got into blogging, his objectives in keeping the blog going, and some suggestions for others thinking of starting their own blogs.
What motivated you to start the blog?
I wanted a place to share my research with people on and off the Hopi Reservation. Throughout graduate school, and my first three years at the University of Illinois, I made my research available to people back home by publishing articles in the Hopi Tutuveni, the official newspaper of the Hopi Tribe. However, when the Hopi Tribe announced that the Tutuveni would close in December 2009, I had to come up with an alternative way to bring my work back to Hopi. I also wanted to create a space where the public could access reliable information on the Hopi people. There are a lot of bizarre websites on the Hopi, most of which focus on Hopi prophesies and spirituality. But these websites do little (if anything at all) to inform people about Hopi issues today.
Has your blogging purpose or engagement with your readership changed over time? If so, how?
Over the years I’ve tried to focus my blog posts on topics pertaining to Hopi sovereignty, self-determination, running, education, and photography. While I originally started blogging to share my research with the public, I also use it as a platform to showcase the work and accomplishments of other Hopi scholars. This part of my blog is really important to me. For example, when Hopi scholars Angela Gonzales (Cornell University) and Lomayumtewa C. Ishii (Northern Arizona University) received tenure and promotion at their respective institutions, I announced it on my blog. I also do this when Hopis publish articles or chapters in books. However, I don’t just highlight the work of Hopi scholars. A quick glance at my blog will reveal posts on Hopi artists, educators, preservationists, and various community leaders. The day my blog becomes all about me is the day I shut it down.
You don’t shy away from engaging in Hopi politics on your blog; could you talk a bit about why you chose to get involved in political issues and what that entails for you?
My posts on Hopi politics receive the most attention from readers. Depending on the post, I can receive up to 200 hits or more per day, especially if the post is about Hopi or Navajo water rights. Earlier this year, federal officials, and some members of the Hopi Tribal Council, attempted to pass the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement Act. Of course, this was/is an extremely important topic for our people, and I didn’t hesitate to use my blog to share information about the Legislation with Hopis and the public. I also received a lot of help with my efforts. Hopi grassroots organizers such as Benjamin Nuvamsa provided me with information for my blog, and even officials with the Hopi Tribe sent me materials to share with my readers. Although I made it clear on my website that I opposed the proposed legislation, I was happy to make my blog available to both groups. I was also glad to provide people with materials to help them make a more informed decision about the Act.
Why do you think it’s important for scholars to keep blogs that are accessible and useful to the general public and, specifically, to Indigenous communities?
We have a responsibility to our Native communities. We have an obligation to bring our research to our people in meaningful and useful ways. However, many back home will never have access to our publications. To make our research more accessible to Native communities or the general public, we need to look beyond scholarly journal articles and books to find other ways to disseminate this information. We need to consider using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. At this point in my life, I’m not able to make frequent trips back to the Hopi Reservation. But I’ve been able to stay connected to home through my blog. People back home know what I’m up to. They are able to see how I’ve used my education – an education that the Hopi Tribe generously funded through the Hopi Tribe Grants and Scholarships Program and the Hopi Education Endowment Fund. Also, in comparison to other Native bloggers, I came to the world of blogging late. Several Native scholars had already made their research available to readers on their websites, including Debbie Reese, Julia Good Fox, and Deborah Miranda. This is in addition to more recent blogs by Hopi scholars Angela Gonzales and Trevor Reed.
Do you have any advice for other scholars thinking about starting blogs?
Find a mentor, especially early on, to help you navigate the world of blogging. I was fortunate to have Debbie Reese there to help if I had questions about blog content or the more technical aspects of blogging. Also, don’t give up on your new blog prematurely. When I started blogging, I told myself that regardless of how many views my blog received per day, I would commit to blogging for six months. Once six months passed, I reevaluated my desire to blog, and the usefulness of my website. It’s very easy to get discouraged as a new blogger. You wonder if all the time and effort you put into blogging is worth it, especially when the activity on your blog is down. But you have to keep the big picture in mind. You have to give your blog time to grow. And you have to give your readers time to value your blog and its content.
And some logistical questions: About how many hours do you spend maintaining the blog each week? What platform do you use? Did you have any formal training or did you just start blogging?
I usually spend four to five hours a week maintaining my blog. Sometimes I spend 10 hours or more, especially if I’m working on a post that requires a lot of thought. Other time is spent responding to comments or emails, updating web links, and searching the Internet for blog related information. I also pay close attention to my blog stats, which provide information on the terms people use to find my blog, the general geographical location of my readers, and the number of hits I receive on any given post. This helps me to gauge what people are interested in, and it gives me ideas about future articles for my blog. The blogging platform that I use is WordPress.com, which is a powerful and yet easily accessible host. While blogging with WordPress is free, I pay annual fees for my website domain name, and the ability to customize the website’s Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which allows me to manipulate the website in various ways. I had no formal training before I started my blog. I watched several WordPress tutorials on-line, and took advantage of other videos on YouTube.
Has the blog opened any doors for you or shaped your research or teaching in any unexpected ways?
Since launching my blog in 2009, I started assigning blog assignments in a few of my classes. In lieu of a research paper, I give my students an opportunity to maintain a blog on issues pertaining to the course. I require my students to post twenty times throughout the semester. Blog posts must be well-written, interesting, thought provoking, and no less than 250 words in length. By using my blog as an example, I have my students focus their posts on topics that pertain to Native sovereignty, representation, decolonization, and Indian self-determination. The blog assignment encourages an atmosphere of learning, teaching, and mutual respect among my students. It also gives my students an opportunity to publish responsibly, to avoid commonly held Native stereotypes in their own writing, and to engage the public intellectually.
What’s the most surprising or meaningful feedback you’ve ever gotten about your blog – either as a comment on the site or delivered to you in person?
I always appreciate it when people let me know that they find my blog interesting or useful. Sometimes I get emails from young students (6th grade, middle school, high school), who stumble across my blog as they search for information on the Hopi for their school projects. They occasionally send me short questionnaires to fill out on Hopi history and culture, which I’m happy to do. Hopi people also regularly submit comments on my blog. One of the comments took place after I published a post on Hopi runner Harry Chacca (Chaca, Chauca) from the village of Polacca on First Mesa. Chacca won numerous events while competing for the cross-country team of Sherman Institute in Southern California. When his granddaughter, Cheryl Chaca, read my post, she commented about how pleased she was to learn about her grandfather’s running accomplishments and wished “he could have read” the post himself. However, the most meaningful comment came from my oldest daughter, Hannah, who at the time was seven years old. One morning, I heard the words “If so, please consider…” coming from our living room. I looked around the corner, and to my surprise, I saw my daughter sitting with my iPad on her lap. My blog was open on the screen. When I asked what she was doing, she simply replied, “I’m learning about Hopi.”
Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert is an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe from the village of Upper Moencopi in northeastern Arizona. He is an [associate] professor of American Indian Studies & History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a co-editor of the forthcoming Oregon State University Press/First Peoples volume, The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images from Sherman Institute (December 2012). Sakiestewa Gilbert is also the author of Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010). He is currently completing a book entitled Hopi Runners: Crossing the Terrain between Indian and American, 1908-1932, which is under contract with the University Press of Kansas (CultureAmerica Series).