Hopi Code Talker Rex Pooyouma

Today, as we consider the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, I want to take a moment and remember Hopis who served their village communities and the United States in World War II. One of these individuals was Rex Pooyouma from the village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa. During the War, Mr. Pooyouma served in the Native American Code Talker Communications Network. He was one of at least 10 Hopi code talkers who used their language to transmit critical messages that saved the lives of countless people and helped to end the War.

In November 1945, Mr. Pooyouma received an honorable discharge from the military at the rank of Private First Class.  He was a decorated soldier and earned several medals, including the American Campaign Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal, and a Bronze Star. In October of this year, Mr. Pooyouma, the last known surviving Hopi code talker, passed away at the age of 93. He will always be remembered as a hero among our people and one who ventured beyond the Hopi mesas to serve his community and nation.

For more information on Mr. Pooyouma’s involvement in World War II and his role as a Hopi code talker, please visit the following website: http://nhonews.com/Main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=12971

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Hopi filmmaker and photographer at the University of Illinois

Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

On September 9, 2010,  Victor Masayesva, Jr. from the village of Hotevilla screened a short film and gave a presentation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Masayesva’s visit was part of a university sponsored initiative titled “Sovereignty and Autonomy in the Western Hemisphere: National & Regional Struggles for Power, Identity and Space.” The American Indian Studies Program organized the event.

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.

In addition to directing films, Masayesva has published a book titled Husk of Time: The Photographs of Victor Masayesva with the University of Arizona Press.

To learn more about Masayesva and his work, please visit the following website: http://www.nativenetworks.si.edu/eng/rose/masayesva_v.htm

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert