Hopi language workshop draws more than 60 youth
More than 60 Hopi youth attend a Hopi language workshop March 11. Photo/Kristin Harned
4/9/2013 10:55:00 AM
By Navajo-Hopi Observer
KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - Mesa Media Inc. (MMI) put on a free Hopi language workshop March 11 for youth ages 12-18. The theme was Itam it natwanit pu piw nöösiwqat yu'a'a'totani: We will be talking about agriculture and foods.
More than 60 youth from the Hopi villages and surrounding towns attended the day's activities held at the Hopi Veteran's Memorial Center. This workshop was MMI's first event put on to empower youth to speak the Hopi language. Five Hopi instructors led small breakout sessions presenting topics such as Hopi corn, fields, patnga (squash and pumpkin), Hopi foods and the psychology of learning a language.
MMI gave each youth a packet of materials including a copy of the brand new CD and booklet entitled Hopilavayvenpi: Hopi Alphabet. Hopilavayvenpi introduces each of the characters in the Hopi alphabet in both written and spoken formats. Each letter is pronounced in words and sentences and the booklet shows the written words that are spoken in Hopi on the CD.
Many parents and community members also attended the language workshop, sharing their views of how they would like to help MMI work toward the huge task of revitalizing the Hopi language.
"We all need to work together and start speaking Hopi every day in the home. Let's help our children become more confident in their speaking abilities," said MMI president and co-founder Anita Poleahla.
KUYI Hopi radio also broadcasted the morning's sessions live and interviewed participants about why the Hopi language is important. Some people even stopped in after hearing the broadcast on the radio.
The youth who attended said the event would be better if there were games, cooking and music. MMI hopes to organize another Hopi language workshop for youth, which will incorporate more hands-on activities. Those in attendance also said they would like more activities in their village or town. Those that traveled from Flagstaff asked specifically for Hopi language classes there. About 50 percent of the youth in attendance said they speak and understand some Hopi but more than 95 percent said they would like to speak more Hopi.
Poleahla said the organization will play host to a second workshop in June for instructors and parents who want to enhance their teaching skills and build their resource library.
"If there is a need for a Hopi language class and an instructor or parent needs assistance getting the class started, this is the workshop for them," said Poleahla.
Advertising for this event will begin in the coming weeks.
The Christensen Fund, First Nations Development Institute (Native Youth and Culture Fund) and the Flagstaff Community Foundation (an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation) helped make the class possible.
The instructors were Clara Dallas, Lendrick Lomayestewa, Arivs Myron, Dorothy Nahsonhoya, Bonnie Secakuku and Joannie Takala. Norma Martin and the Pawytewa family made Hopi food for the event.
Loretta Goldtooth, the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, KUYI Hopi radio, Hopi Jr./Sr. High School and Sipaulovi Development Corporation all contributed to the event as well.
"We appreciate all of the community members who helped us," Poleahla said. "Our elders share with us their teachings and want to help us learn. They are the keepers of our valuable knowledge and skills. They are the ones who know the importance of the language. This is the knowledge that we are losing very rapidly. We can't pull up a book or website to research these teachings. Once this knowledge is gone, it's gone. We continue to receive support from our elders. We are working really hard to hear them, to hear what they want to share. We want all of our elders to know how much we appreciate their support and valuable sharing. Eskweli uma itamuy pa'angwantota. Itam soosoyom itaalavayiy aw ungangwtapyaqw pay so'onqa aw antsanyani."
More information is available at www.mesamedia.org or (928) 737-2255. Mesa Media Inc. is a Hopi-based non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2003 by Anita Poleahla and the late Ferrell Secakuku.