Hopi Education Summit urges unified curriculum<br>
Chairman Taylor said the three main initiatives that the tribe is facing are restructuring or creation of the Hopi Department of Education; revision of the Hopi Education Ordinance; and revision of the Hopi Tribal Grants and Scholarship policies.
Chairman Taylor said the Hopi Tribe is fortunate to have the Hopi Endowment Fund. The tribe invested $10 million into the fund for scholarships for Hopis, but there have been complaints about the process.
“We need to revise it so we can put the money to better use,” he said.
Chairman Taylor said the tribe has created two educational task forces. He said one will deal with alcohol and substance abuse. He said the criminal code needs to be addressed to deal with these issues.
“We need to knock down walls so we can bring people together,” he said.
Chairman Taylor said another task force will focus on education. He added that the Hopi people are fortunate because they still have their culture intact, unlike many other tribes, which only have a semblance left of their culture. But, he emphasized, that Hopi language and culture needs to be incorporated into the area schools’ curriculum.
Chairman Taylor called the education summit a bright beginning with a new dawn. He thanked Hopi Jr/Sr High Superintendent Paul Reynolds and the school’s governing board for allowing them to use the facility for the education summit. He also thanked Noreen Sakiestewa, director of the Hopi Office of Education, for putting the summit together.
Chairman Taylor said those attending the education summit showed that they care about the future. He said education is the way to maintain a vibrant Hopi homeland.
The chairman said he is impressed with the number of programs and projects in progress on the Hopi Reservation to meet the educational needs of young people.
“Today and tomorrow are an opportunity to serve today’s needs,” he said about the two-day educational summit.
Chairman Taylor used the pulpit to announce that the Hopi Department of Natural Resources has planned Earth Day events for May 5. The chairman declared May 2-7 Earth Week on the Hopi Reservation.
He said Hopis as stewards of the land should do what they can to help the earth, such as cleaning up the roads.
Sakiestewa said an important part of the education summit is learning how educators can collaborate to meet the needs of the students.
Sakiestewa, who was born in Moenkopi, recounted how she was raised in Winslow and learned the value of cultural diversity.
“When I moved back to Hopi, I was ostracized because I couldn’t speak the language,” she said.
So, she had friends teach her the language—what she refers to as “baby Hopi.”
“Then I was accepted,” she said.
Sakiestewa earned a bachelor of arts in business education from Arizona State University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University.
Although she was excelling when she was in college, she felt that she was lost culturally and spiritually.
“It was as if I had to choose from one culture or the other,” she said.
As a doctoral student, Sakiestewa’s studies confirmed what she believed: Indian students perform better academically when they have a better sense of identification.
“Experts tells us that students are most successful when education is culturally relevant,” she said.
Sakiestewa later taught at Tuba City High School.
“As a teacher, I learned the value of culture and academic vigor,” she said.
Sakiestewa said schools can give space and encouragement for Hopi language and culture. She said both Hopis and non-natives should encourage teaching Hopi language and culture in the schools.
“You never become Hopi unless you live it,” she said. “We tend to guard our Hopi language, but we cannot be stingy.”
Sakiestewa also spoke of the need for improving teacher preparation and staff development.
Sakiestewa urged parents and the community to be more involved in education.
“We need Hopi and Tewa parents to be consistently involved in their children’s education,” she said.
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)
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