Misrepresenting the Hopi with photos

Earlier this week I blogged about a tourist who took a photograph of a home at Orayvi and posted it to his blog. The tourist admitted that there were signs up that forbid people from taking photos, but he took one anyway. It appears from his post that the reason he published the photo was to show his readers how poor he perceived the Hopi to be.

In my earlier post I mentioned that some Hopis do not want tourists to take photos of their villages because they desire to protect their privacy. Still others post these signs at the entrance of the village so that tourists will not misrepresent them. The sandstone homes and the condition of the village may cause outsiders to conclude that the Hopi people are poor and in desperate need of help. But is this the message that the people of Orayvi want the world to believe or hear?

I wonder if the author of Boquete Panama Guide has ever been inside an Orayvi home? During his recent visit to the reservation, did he speak to the owner of this or other Hopi homes? Did he hear their stories about how members of their families/clans built these homes in the early 1900s or earlier? Did they tell him that people from the village once traveled by foot to Nuvadakovi (San Francisco Peaks) to cut down wood beams to use for their ceilings, and carried them back to the village? If so, did he see the pride in their faces when they told him that their families have lived in these homes for more than a hundred years? Did they explain to him that many years ago the people of the village decided to live without modern conveniences such as electricity and running water? Did he care enough to ask? Did he care enough to ask why?

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert