Hopi scholars publish articles

I am pleased to report that Hopi scholars Sheilah E. Nicholas of the University of Arizona and Lomayumtewa C. Ishii of Northern Arizona University recently published the following articles:

Nicholas, Sheilah E., “Language, Epistemology, and Cultural Identity: ‘Hopiqatsit Aw Unanguakiwyungwa‘ (‘They Have Their Heart in the Hopi Way of Life’)”, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 2010, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 125-144.

This article provides an in-depth “on the ground” look at the Hopi language shift—“becoming accustomed to speaking English”—through the lenses of the study participants who represent the youth, parent, and grandparent generations. The article also gives attention to Hopi oral tradition and the Hopi identity-formation process in order to articulate the link among language, epistemology, and identity, spotlighting what of the traditions, practices, and religion remain salient and why they remain salient. [p. 127]

Ishii, Lomayumtewa C., “Western Science Comes to the Hopis: Critically Deconstructing the Origins of an Imperialist Canon,” Wicazo Sa Review, Fall 2010, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 65-88.

The number of western texts written about Hopi culture is enormous. The work of Jesse Walter Fewkes, beginning in the 1890s, marks a key starting point in the articulation of a western perspective of Hopi culture, initiating a canon rooted in nineteenth-century anthropological thought. Fewkes’s work also illustrates how the establishment of a “cultural archive” was pragmatically related to his research, which included excavations of Hopi sites (notably the village of Awatovi), as well as through his personal commentary. This article examines nineteenth-century anthropological theory, Fewkes’s employment of that theoretical orientation, and how his work established the foundation of a “cultural archive” that constitutes a canon in the study of Hopi culture. But more importantly, by critically reading these texts a decolonization process reveals a western imperialistic mind at work. [p. 65]

Hopi radio KUYI 88.1 FM live stream

Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Last weekend I attended the 77th Annual Hopi Show at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff and spoke with volunteer DJ “Jimbo” (pictured on the left) and Richard Alun Davis (pictured in the center), Station Manager for KUYI 88.1 FM, the official radio station of the Hopi Tribe. They informed me that the radio station is now being transmitted via a live stream on the internet.

In addition to playing a variety of music from rock-n-roll, reggae, country western, and religious selections, KUYI is committed to  broadcasting programs in the Hopi language. Other programs focus on Hopi health, education, farming, and youth.

When I spoke with Davis at the Hopi Show, I asked him if KUYI would be willing to transmit the audio of Beyond the Mesas. He seemed very interested in the idea. Once we finalize the details, I will make an announcement on my blog.

To listen to the live stream of KUYI, please click on the following link: http://www.kuyi.net/listen-online

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

“Kwa’a, kwakwha’ um nuy siiva maqa”: Speaking Hopi to Grandpa

When I received my advanced degree in history from UC Riverside my grandparents made the trip from Moencopi to Southern California to see me graduate. We had a big celebration and one of the gifts my grandparents gave me was a card with a check inside. After opening the card I immediately thanked my grandmother, but I waited to thank my grandfather until I was able to do so in Hopi. As my grandfather was sitting in his truck, ready to make the trip back to the reservation, I said to him: “Kwa’a, kwakwha’ um nuy siiva maqa” (“Grandpa, thank you for the money that you gave me”). He looked up at me and said one word: “owi’.” The literal English translation of “owi'” is “yes,” but in this context it meant much more. At that very moment I connected with my grandfather at a level that would have been impossible in English. Hopi was his first language and it is the language that he prefers.

Growing up in the mountain community of Flagstaff, I thought my grandfather was a man of few words. I do not recall having long conversations with him when I was a child. But as I got older I realized that my grandfather was a man of few words in English and not Hopi. I sometimes wonder how my relationship with my grandfather would be different if I knew how to speak more Hopi. In my immediate family we say that kwa’a only listens to my dad, because my dad speaks to him in Hopi. We say this jokingly, but there is truth to it. Even today when our family gets together my dad and his father can be heard conversing in the Hopi language.

A lifelong goal of mine is to be able to speak fluent Hopi. I have a long way to go before I reach this goal. Hopis are proud that much of our culture remains intact. Many of our ceremonies continue, we remain on portions of our ancestral lands, and Hopi is still spoken. But our parents and grandparents will tell you that fewer and fewer Hopis are able to speak their language. Fortunately, efforts are being made by people such as Sheilah E. Nicholas of the Hopilavayi Project and many others to encourage and help Hopis reverse this problem.

On a related note, Louellyn White, one of our American Indian Studies postdoctoral fellows at the University of Illinois, and Teresa McCarty of Arizona State University, recently informed me about a new story that National Public Radio (NPR) released on Hopi language and youth. The title of this program is “Hopi Teens Worry About Loss of Culture.” This program briefly examines Hopi language loss at U.S. government schools and the issues Hopi youth face as they try to live as Hopis in today’s world. It is a fascinating story. If you would like to listen to the 5 minute program and/or view the transcript, click here.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert