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.
I came across an interesting YouTube video on running by Hopi video producer Alexander D. Chapin. The video appeared on YouTube in November 2010. I do not know much about Chapin, except that he has produced a number of short videos on-line. A few years ago, Chapin discovered interview tapes of his grandfather James (Jimmy) S. Kewanwytewa and he used a section of the interview on running to make Running Spirit. Kewanwytewa was from Orayvi on Third Mesa. Some people consider him to be the most famous Hopi kachina carver of the twentieth century. In addition to carving, he spent several years working with zoologist Harold S. Colton, co-founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona, to identify a large collection of kachina dolls. Below is the YouTube commentary that goes with the video:
I recently (2009) obtained an audio recording of my Great Grandfather Jimmy Kewanwytewa. In this recording I chose one of the stories he told and composed music to it.
My Great Grandfather was Hopi Indian and was known for being a talented distance runner. So in this story he tells about a time when he was headed home from work and saw someone running ahead of him, so he thought he would go an catch up with that person on his way home.
But the entire way to the Oraibi village, as talented as a runner that my great grandfather was said to be, he could not catch up with that person. Afterwards he told his father what happened and his father laughed at him and told him the same thing happen to him one time, and that he was never going to catch that person because that person was a spirit.
I created this video for the song in a rush so I could share this song with everyone but hope to produce a better video in the future.
Watch & listen or just listen & enjoy my most accomplished musical composition to date.
Shot & Edited by Alexander D. Chapin
Alexander D. C. Productions
On Saturday September 18, 2010, I had a special opportunity to screen BEYOND THE MESAS and give a presentation to my family at the village of Upper Moencopi’s Community Center. The screening and presentation were part of the Sakiestewa/Honanie Annual Family Reunion. About 60 people attended the event.
I have screened BEYOND THE MESAS at several universities in the United States, and I have shown it at other locations on the Hopi Reservation, but this was the first time the documentary was screened at Upper Moencopi. The film was well received and it led into a discussion on the benefits and negative consequences of Hopi attendance at off-reservation Indian boarding schools.
After the screening I passed out student case files that I collected at the National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California (now located in Perris, California). The files belong to members of the Sakiestewa and Honanie families who attended Sherman Institute or the Phoenix Indian School from 1906 to the 1940s. Most of the files included school applications, report cards, and handwritten and typed letters.
As a Hopi professor at the University of Illinois I am thankful for the opportunities that I have to bring my research back to the Hopi community. This has always been a driving force behind my work.
Masayesva is known throughout the world as an accomplished Hopi photographer and filmmaker. Some of his award winning films include Hopiit, Itam Hakim Hopiit, Ritual Clowns, Imagining Indians, and one of my favorites, Paatuwaqatsi: Water, Land & Life, a film on Hopi running, the sacredness of water, and Hopi relationship with the indigenous people of Mexico.