Posts Tagged 'University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign'

You are on Indian Land: Acknowledging the Traditional Homelands of Indigenous People at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

[The following land acknowledgement was part of a keynote address I gave at the Annual Celebration of Diversity Breakfast at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The event, which had over 400 people, took place on November 9, 2018. Over the years, people have approached Indigenous land acknowledgements in various ways. This is how I did it, and I am hopeful that my approach will be of some help to others.]

You are on Indian Land

Good morning everyone. It is great to be here. I am so honored by this opportunity.

I was told earlier this week that I had about 8 minutes at the mic.

And so in true Hopi fashion, I am going to keep my remarks short and sweet.

In recent months, officials and others on campus have started their public gatherings (including this gathering) by reading an official statement that acknowledges the Indigenous people who were the traditional stewards of these lands — the lands we now collectively refer to as the state of Illinois. 

It is a wonderful statement, and I am grateful for those across campus who helped create it, including my colleagues Nichole Boyd, Jamie Singson, Elizabeth Tsukahara, Dr. Rusty Barcelo, and many others. 

This morning I would like to talk about what is at the heart of this statement, but to do so in a way that reflects who I am as a Hopi person, a Native historian, and as one who has lived and worked on these lands for the past twelve years.

I hope you don’t mind me doing so. 

My former graduate advisor Clifford Trafzer at the University of California, Riverside, once began his Native American history textbook with the following words:

“Wherever you are in the Americas, you are on Indian land.”

It is difficult, I think, for those of us who work and study at the University of Illinois to remember or even understand that the land beneath our feet is “Indian land.”

We look outside the windows from our offices or places of work and we see both old and modern buildings. We walk on the pathways of our beautiful Quad, enjoy the nicely cut grass, and hear chimes from the Altgeld Hall Tower. 

Little, if anything, on this campus reminds us that we are on Indian land.

But we are.

Long before French explorers encountered Native people on these lands in the 1600s, Indigenous people were here. Some of these people included the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea, Miami, and Odawa, among others.  

And long before the federal government forcefully removed a number of these tribes to places such as Kansas or what was then referred to as the Oklahoma Indian Territory, the people considered these lands their home. 

It was here among the tall grasses, flowing rivers, natural springs, and rolling meadows where the aforementioned tribes learned about and understood their identity as Indigenous people. 

Their origin and migration stories tell of these lands, and give their communities meaning and purpose in life.

Back on my ancestral lands in the American Southwest, far from the corn and soybean fields of central Illinois, the land also gives testimony of the ancient ones.

Our many ceremonial sites, including our sacred mountains and springs, and places unknown to the outside world, remind my people of those who came before us.

“We were once great travelers,” elders back home have told me, “a people who ventured out and put our marks upon the country from the Pacific to Central America and beyond.”

Again, “Wherever you are in the Americas, you are on Indian land.”

Well known Lakota scholar and thinker Vine Deloria, Jr. once remarked that “American Indian people are a people of time and a people of place.” 

It is tempting, I know, for us to only associate this “place” (or these lands) with Native people of the distant past. 

But these lands have always been closely associated with their original caretakers (notice that I used the word “caretakers” and not “inhabitants”), regardless if a university or any individual acknowledges this reality. 

The land has memory, and it still speaks to us. The question, of course, is whether you and I are willing to listen?

Again, thank you for the opportunity to share a few thoughts with you this morning. 

I especially want to extend a heartfelt thanks to Assistant Vice Chancellor Gioconda Guerra Perez, Chancellor Robert Jones, Provost Andreas Cangellaris, and Dean Feng Sheng Hu in the College of LAS. 

The fact that I am standing before you today gives testimony to our current administration’s commitment to American Indian people and issues on campus. And it demonstrates the vital role Indigenous people – and yes, all people – have in creating and maintaining a truly diverse and inclusive Illinois.

Kwa’kwa

Delivered by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert at the Annual Celebration of Diversity Breakfast, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, November 9, 2018

 

Screening BEYOND THE MESAS at Upper Moencopi

Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

On Saturday September 18, 2010, I had a special opportunity to screen BEYOND THE MESAS and give a presentation to my family at the village of Upper Moencopi’s Community Center. The screening and presentation were part of the Sakiestewa/Honanie Annual Family Reunion. About 60 people attended the event.

I have screened BEYOND THE MESAS at several universities in the United States, and I have shown it at other locations on the Hopi Reservation, but this was the first time the documentary was screened at Upper Moencopi. The film was well received and it led into a discussion on the benefits and negative consequences of Hopi attendance at off-reservation Indian boarding schools.

After the screening I passed out student case files that I collected at the National Archives in Laguna Niguel, California (now located in Perris, California). The files belong to members of the Sakiestewa and Honanie families who attended Sherman Institute or the Phoenix Indian School from 1906 to the 1940s. Most of the files included school applications, report cards, and handwritten and typed letters.

As a Hopi professor at the University of Illinois I am thankful for the opportunities that I have to bring my research back to the Hopi community. This has always been a driving force behind my work.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowships in American Indian Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011-2012

***JOB ANNOUNCEMENT***

CHANCELLOR’S POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIPS IN
AMERICAN INDIAN STUDIES

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Under the Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the American Indian Studies Program seeks two Postdoctoral Fellows for the 2011-2012 academic year. This fellowship program provides a stipend, a close working association with AIS faculty, and assistance in furthering the fellow’s development as a productive scholar. Applicants should have an ongoing research project that promises to make a notable contribution to American Indian and Indigenous Studies. While fellows will concentrate on their research, they may choose to teach one course in American Indian Studies. Furthermore, fellows are encouraged to participate in the intellectual community of the American Indian Studies Program.

The Fellowship stipend for the 2011- 2012 academic year is $42,000, including health benefits. An additional $5,000 will be provided for the fellow’s research, travel, and related expenses. Candidates must have completed all degree requirements by August 15, 2011. Preference will be given to those applicants who have finished their degrees in the past five years. The one-year fellowship appointment period is from August 16, 2011, to August 15, 2012.

Candidates should submit a curriculum vitae, a thorough description of the research project to be undertaken during the fellowship year, two samples of their scholarly writing, and two letters of recommendation to Robert Warrior, Director, American Indian Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1204 West Nevada Street, Urbana, Illinois 61801-3818. Applications received by January 21, 2011 will receive full consideration. The review process will continue until the fellowships are filled. For further information, contact Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert, Chair, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Committee, American Indian Studies: Phone: (217) 265-9870, Email: tewa@illinois.edu, or visit the Program’s website at www.ais.illinois.edu.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an Equal Opportunity Employer

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


Copyright Notice

© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2019. 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 and Head of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona.

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Revisiting the Hopi Boarding School Experience at Sherman Institute and the Process of Making Research Meaningful to Community (JAIE, 2018)

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

Introduction to Education beyond the Mesas (2010)

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

Foreward to Don Talayesva’s Sun Chief: An Autobiography of A Hopi Indian (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 (HEQ, 2014)

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

Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930 (AQ, 2010)

The Hopi Followers: Chief Tawaquaptewa and Hopi Student Advancement at Sherman Institute, 1906-1909 (JAIE, 2005)

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

Click to listen to KUYI On-Line

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