A living history

Sherman Institute marching band (1908), courtesy of the Sherman Indian Museum

Leigh J. Kuwanwisiwma of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office once said to me that the Hopi boarding school experience is a “living history.” Some of the Hopis who attended boarding schools during the era of assimilation (1880s-1930s) are still with us today. Others are not, but their stories remain with their children and other family members. My grandfather, Victor Sakiestewa from Orayvi, attended Sherman from 1906 to 1909 and he played the clarinet in the school’s marching band. He was among the first Hopis to attend Sherman in the early twentieth century. Schools such as Sherman Institute, now called Sherman Indian High School, the Phoenix Indian School (“PI”), Stewart Indian School, Ganado Mission School, Santa Fe Indian School, and the Albuquerque Indian School, play an important role in Hopi history. The Hopi boarding school experience is indeed a “living history,” and by sharing and recording these stories we will help keep that history alive for Hopi and non-Hopi people. This conviction was a driving force behind the production of Beyond the Mesas.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert