Posts Tagged 'Running'

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.

 

 

Coyote still has something to teach us about running

Below is  a story in Runner’s World about a coyote who joined the 5K race at the recent AIA Cross Country State Championship in Phoenix, Arizona.

News reporters noted that the coyote only stayed in the race for 50 meters, and one AIA official jokingly suggested that he may have been chasing after The Road Runner.

But I believe that there was a far deeper reason why Coyote joined the race.

People back home talk about how Hopi runners of long ago learned to run by studying the running motions of various animals. I can only imagine what Coyote was thinking when he ran with the other runners at the AIA event:

“Look at me run. Observe my speed, strength, and grace. See how effortlessly I run alongside, behind, and ahead of you. I still have something to teach you.”

________________

Picture 2

Running on a track

Armory track

Armory track & field – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

This winter I’ve been running on the Armory track at the University of Illinois.

The last time I used a track was in high school.  Back then I was quite a bit faster.

Now days I plug along at a 10 minute per mile pace.

I am obviously not out to impress anyone, especially members of the UofI’s men’s or women’s track team who run circles around me during their practice.

But it’s a pace that I’m able to maintain, at least for a while.

There are benefits to running on a track, and there are a lot of things about running on the streets of Champaign that I don’t miss: Traffic, car exhaust, stop lights, curbs, potholes, imbalanced dogs, angry geese, angry people, extreme temperatures, and those darn concrete slabs!

When the weather warms up, I will once again take my place among Champaign’s outdoor runners.

But I doubt this will last for long.

As soon as the temperatures reach into the 90s, and we start experiencing high humidity, it’s back to the track for me!

A new running partner and those darn concrete slabs

Illinois is experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Today, it’s already in the low 70s, which is great weather to run in. Yesterday, I took advantage of the nice weather and hit the running trails near my neighborhood.

This winter I started running with a new friend named John who lives a block away from me. In the past I would usually run by myself. This is still the case, but once a week I run with John.

He is a stronger runner than me, which makes him a good running partner. And he’s already saved me from two potentially really bad spills. They both happened when we were running on uneven sidewalks with trip lips sticking up from between the concrete slabs.

While running at a decent pace, I tripped over those lips, lunged forward, and John quickly turned around each time to catch my fall. Had it not been for John, I would have hit the pavement face first – a bloody mess for sure!

So my near falls have taught me a few lessons: pay better attention to those darn concrete slabs, don’t let your feet drag (easy to do when you’re tired), and keep John running in the lead.

Trails kept open at the Oraivi Footrace

Oraivi Footrace (2009), Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

This Saturday August 6, Hopi runner Juwan Nuvayokva and the village of Oraivi will host the annual Oraivi 8K Footrace and 2 Mile Fun Run and Walk.  The 8K race will begin at 6:30AM.  Be sure to arrive early if you intend to run but have not yet registered.  And bring extra cash with you to buy coffee, breakfast burritos, and race t-shirts and mugs. Kwakwha’ to all those who keep our trails open by running in this event!

Running through exhaust

Illinois cornfield and rural road - Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

On Friday of last week I went on a run that brought me to the middle of corn fields outside the city of Champaign, Illinois. As I plugged away on a country road, a large truck drove by and I got a mouth full of exhaust. This is one of my least favorite parts about running on rural roads.

But it reminded me of Hopis during the 1910s and 1920s who “ate exhaust” in many marathons that they competed in. It was not uncommon for newspaper reporters or race officials to drive their automobiles 10 or 15 feet in front of the lead runners.  Some runners were so overcome with exhaust that they quit.

Back out at Hopi, runners did not have to contend with automobile exhaust, but when they competed in events beyond the mesas, it became a serious issue for them to manage.

It’s difficult enough to run long distances with high heat and humidity, and sore legs and feet, but adding the heavy exhaust element to running must have seemed unbearable.

And yet the vast majority of Hopi runners pressed on to complete (and sometimes win) the marathons that they started.

For the runners, the exhaust was simply another obstacle for them to overcome. It was one more hurdle for them to navigate through when they ran beyond their homelands in northeastern Arizona.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Outrunning Chief Illiniwek

Photo courtesy of Action Sports International

I’ve been meaning to write a brief post about a 5K event that my wife, Kylene, and I ran in April. The race was part of the 2011 Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon held in Champaign/Urbana. The course started on the southwest side of the University of Illinois and proceeded north to “campus town” on Green Street. It eventually made its way back south to the school’s Memorial Stadium.  The race ended inside the stadium.  The picture on the left is of me sprinting the last 100 yards to the finish. My time was 28:27, and Kylene completed the course in 27:46. We both did better than we expected. Some of my students came out to cheer me on. One student even made a sign that read “Go Professor Gilbert!” He received extra credit. You can read about his observations of the race on his blog.  He writes about seeing a runner dressed up as the former University of Illinois mascot Chief Illiniwek. I also saw this individual before the beginning of the race. A lot of people wanted to take their photograph with him. He was decked out in feathers and a war bonnet.  He liked the attention, but he wasn’t much of a runner. I never saw him again after the first 30 yards.


Copyright Notice

© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the author

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Hopi) is Professor of American Indian Studies and History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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New book on Hopi runners set to launch in October!

Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010)

Education beyond the Mesas – Introduction (click image to download)

The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images From Sherman Institute (Oregon State University Press, 2012)

Sun Chief: An Autobiography of A Hopi Indian by Don C. Talayesva, New foreword by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Sept. 2013)

Foreword to Kevin Whalen’s Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program, 1900-1945

A Second Wave of Hopi Migration (History of Education Quarterly, August 2014)

Marathoner Louis Tewanima and the Continuity of Hopi Running, 1908-1912 (Western Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2012). Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Short Nonfiction, Western Writers of America (2013)

“Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930”, American Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 1, March Issue 2010 (Click image to download article)

“‘The Hopi Followers’: Chief Tawaquaptewa and Hopi Student Advancement at Sherman Institute, 1906-1909”, Journal of American Indian Education, (Click image to download article)

Constitution and Bylaws of the Hopi Tribe (With all amendments, click to download)

Click to listen to KUYI On-Line

Matt’s Goodreads

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