Revisiting the Hopi Boarding School Experience at Sherman Institute and the Process of Making Research Meaningful to Community

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Hopi Runners: Crossing the Terrain between Indian and American

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Today the University Press of Kansas officially launched my book Hopi Runners: Crossing the Terrain between Indian and American (CultureAmerica series).  

I am grateful for the support of so many people over the years who have encouraged me as I completed this project. I thank my family and friends, past and current students, colleagues at the University of Illinois, and numerous scholars here in the United States and abroad. I also thank the wonderful staff at the press, and of course, readers of this blog!

Last week, Craig Chamberlin of the University of Illinois News Bureau published a story about the book. You can access the story here. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Hopi Runners, you can do so through Amazon or the publisher’s website.

Below is an excerpt from the book’s Introduction titled “To the Fence and Back.” The excerpt comes from a section of the Introduction where I describe Hopi runners who competed at federal off-reservation Indian boarding schools:

While Hopis participated in several sports, including basketball, football, and even boxing, their greatest success came as members of track and cross-country teams. Sports at off-reservation schools provided Native athletes opportunities that did not exist  for them on their reservations. When Hopis joined cross-country teams at Sherman Institute, or the Indian school at Carlisle, they experienced for the first time different regions of the country, life in modern cities, and a new way of running footraces. And Hopis used these opportunities to learn and interact with people from other parts of the United States and the world. While competing in marathons, Hopis ran with runners from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, and Japan, and although from vastly different cultures, they spoke a common – and perhaps universal – language of competitive running.

Having come from a society that valued long-distance running for ceremonial and practical purposes, Hopi youth transferred this cultural mindset with with them when they entered these faraway schools. Hopi runners who competed at Indian schools had come from a tribe of racers. While none of these athletes needed to be taught the essence of long-distance running, coaches nevertheless trained them in modern running techniques and rules to compete effectively in American track and cross-country events. The dirt trails on the reservation did not resemble the paved roads or clay tracks used in many American running competitions. And so, in their first year on a school’s cross-country team, Hopis learned about running in different locations, climates, and elevations. And they had to develop mental and physical strategies for running in cities, on mountain roads, or in front of thousands of cheering spectators in a stadium.

When Hopis ran on trails back home, they did so in a relatively quiet and peaceful environment, far from the sounds of locomotives arriving and departing towns such as Winslow. Running on or near the mesas, Hopis became attuned with their bodies and surroundings, becoming one with their environment. They listened to their own breathing, the sound of their feet tapping the trail as they danced on Mother Earth. They felt the rhythmic pounding of their heart telling them to adjust or steady their pace. And they listened to birds singing and the sound of the wind cutting through the canyons. And often they ran alone, experiencing physical ailments that all distance runners endure. “He was alone and running on,” Kiowa poet N. Scott Momaday writes of a Jemez Pueblo runner named Abel. “All of his being was concentrated in the sheer motion of running on, and he was past caring about pain.” In the high desert of Arizona, Hopi runners also beheld beautiful landscapes , greeted majestic sunrises and sunsets, and had unobstructed views for miles in all directions. Running with no distractions from the outside world, Hopis ran with “good hearts,” prayed silently for the well-being of their people, and sang songs to the katsina spirits to entice the rain clouds to follow them home to their villages.

However, the tranquil environment that encompassed the trails back home did not reflect the fast pace and at times chaotic life in large modern American cities…

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, Hopi Runners: Crossing the Terrain between Indian and American (University Press of Kansas, 2018), 8, 9, 10.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: Argentinian Doctor to Receive Hopi Award

Coordinator, Barbara Chester Award

BCAward@hopifoundation.org

barbarachesteraward.hopifoundation.org

You can learn more about the Hopi Foundation at www.hopifoundation.org 

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE         June 6, 2016

Contact

The Hopi Foundation

Email: bcaward@hopifoundation.org

Website: barbarachesteraward.org

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.

Spending time with my dad on Second Mesa

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Last month I spent time with my dad, Willard Sakiestewa Gilbert, on Second Mesa. As some readers know, I often write and speak about his influence on my life and career. [See my post “Job Shadowing my Father, and my Path to Tenure”]

He, along with my mom and other members of my family, accompanied me to the Village of Shungopavi where I gave a talk on Hopi runners at the Louis Tewanima Footrace Pre-Race Dinner.

The photograph above is of me standing with my dad – right before I went inside the Shungopavi Community Center to present (below).

A special thanks to Sam Taylor and the Louis Tewanima Association for the opportunity to participate in their event.

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