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The Making of an Indigenous Language Teacher: Reclaiming our Hopi Heritage of Thinking, Teaching and Learning

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Title: The Making of an Indigenous Language Teacher: Reclaiming our Hopi Heritage of Thinking, Teaching and Learning
Authors: Nicholas, Sheilah
Duwahoyeoma, Bernita
Curtis, Ada
Issue Date: 05 Mar 2017
Description: The current political and social environment and the more ominous events unfolding across aboriginal Indigenous homelands—locally, nationally and globally—is what the Hopi people refer to as koyanisqatsi, life out of balance and which has been recounted as recurrent in the history of the human experience. It is a prominent theme in their Emergence story transported across time by each succeeding generation of Hopi through the oral tradition. The Hopi number just over 14,000 of which half maintain a permanent residence on part of their aboriginal homelands in northeastern Arizona and continue to carry out the cultural traditions of their ancestors. Thus the words of dedication, “For the Hopi people who have maintained a firm belief in and adherence to the Hopi way of life in order that succeeding generations of Hopi will remain a distinct people,” (Author 1, 2008, p. 5) represent and represents the Hopi way of life as the resilient and reliable guiding source toward an unknown future. The paramount challenge is for the Hopi people to maintain community cohesiveness and unity, a moral existence in the natural world, and spiritual fulfillment on behalf of all people, all living things—the commitment made with Maasaw, Guardian Spirit of the Hopi Fourth World at the time of Emergence—within the context of a life out of balance. Nevertheless, our individual and collective responses are premised in our sense of accountability to our Creator as stewards of Mother Earth, and responsibility to the next generation to ensure cultural and linguistic survival and continuity (Author 2, 2016). “Very little has been written about how contemporary Native people have come into our Indigenous selves through the work we do. This is particularly true of Indigenous educators” (Cajete, 2015, p.1). In this paper, we share and situate our “stories”—our personal and professional trajectories in two foundational Hopi concepts: itaaqatsimkiwa—our lifeline; itaatumakmakiwa—our lifework, concepts that are understood as “preordained” and “predestined” in leading each of us toward finding our “true vocation” to (p. 1). We engage in an analysis of our experiences as a manifestation of self-empowerment and voice (Ruiz, 1991). It is “the work that we do” which brought us together and nurtures our commitment to attending to our heritage language and culture. Cajete (2015) describes this process of reclaiming an Indigenous heritage of thinking, teaching and learning as the making of an Indigenous teacher. Cajete, G. A. (2015). Indigenous community: Rekindling the teachings of the seventh fire. St. Paul, MN: Living Justice Press. Author 2. (2016). Unpublished Reflection paper. Author 1. (2008). “Becoming ‘fully’ Hopi: The role of the Hopi language in the contemporary lives of Hopi youth—A Hopi case study of language shift and vitality.” Unpublished doctoral dissertation. American Indian Studies Program, University of Arizona, Tucson. Ruiz, R. (1991). Empowering linguistic minority children. In In C.E. Sleeter (Ed.), Empowerment through multicultural education. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/41980
Appears in Collections:5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



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