Students Learn About Hopi Culture Firsthand
Posted 11/14/2019 05:04PM

On Monday, two members of the Native American Hopi tribe addressed the Upper and Middle School history classes in the Performing Arts Center. Iva Honyestewa Honwynum (“Female Bear Walking”) and Edward Honyestewa Talayouma (“The Leaves of the Reed”) shared details of Hopi culture, taking the audience through the lifetime of a member of the Hopi tribe, from birth and child naming ceremonies (five names total for women, and three names for men), until death. They shared their 13-month calendar and the ceremonies held in each, including Winter Solstice, Bean Dances, and Women’s Basket Dances. They shared family photos and explained how traditional hairstyles must be earned through the completion of rites such as the Grinding and Wedding ceremonies.

Iva, a basket weaver and jeweler, and Ed, a sculptor, were brought to campus by Upper School teacher Willa Greenstone, who has gotten to know the couple on Interim Trips to the Hopi Reservation over the past 10 years. Mrs. Greenstone reached out to them after her U.S. History students expressed interest in understanding more about the Native American cultures after studying Jamestown. Mrs. Greenstone decided that the best way to teach that was to give her students access to “a firsthand, primary source understanding of one tribe’s culture.”

The talk also touched on the emotional topics of straddling the two worlds of the U.S. and the Reservation, including the celebration of Thanksgiving in Western Culture despite the oppression it represents to Native Americans. Despite this, the message that Iva and Ed left students with is the importance of being appreciative and thankful every day.

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