Hopi Board of Education discusses language program

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - On July 27 the Hopi Board of Education met for its monthly meeting. One of the items on the agenda was the Hopi Lavayi program, which is set up to help preserve the Hopi language.

There is currently an initiative to include Hopi language in school curriculums due to a growing concern that children are no longer being taught to speak Hopi in the homes. So the Hopi Tribal Council mandated Hopi language in all schools a few years back. Up until recently, however, there has been no progress. But now, the Hopi Lavayi program will be under the direction of the Hopi Department of Education (DOE). This will bring better management and oversight to the program to successfully implement the program in the schools.

Currently Hopi Lavayi is under the Cultural Preservation Office, but with the requirements of school regulations, it became necessary to move the program under Dr. Noreen Sakiestewa of the DOE.

Sakiestewa made a presentation on the Hopi Lavayi program and pointed out that the current chairman supports this endeavor. She commented on the recent presentation held by the Hopi Lavayi Institute of their summer K-8 language immersion classes. She stated that it was clear that these kids learned Hopi and that the program was successful. This was the first year the Institute held a community program and it was quite successful.

She states that a newly created position will give the Hopi Lavayi program a year-round manager that will be able to work with schools to develop a curriculum and would be someone familiar with education. She stated that this is on a fast track.

A reservation-wide meeting was held Aug. 3 to discuss the tribal council resolution and to gather information what the thoughts were of local and area school boards as far as preserving the Hopi language in the schools. The meeting was also brought together to discuss the formal transfer of the Lavayi program to DOE. She would like to ensure that the Lavayi Institute is a stakeholder in the endeavor and the design of the program.

In addition to this, Sakiestewa is a proponent for the First things First initiative to include Hopi language in a preschool setting for kids age 0-5. So with both programs in place, children could start learning Hopi early in childhood all the way through high school. A lot of times individuals are not comfortable speaking Hopi so they revert back to English. It is thought that if a Hopi language program is taught in schools, continual reinforcement of the language could help save the Hopi language.

Sakiestewa also wanted to point out that the First Things First program was given $300,000 to start the program, but since the state is in a deficit, the funds are in jeopardy if a proposition passes in November to release the funds back to the state. She therefore encourages everyone to vote no on the proposition to take the money from the program.

Members of the Hopi Board of Education include LeRoy Sakiestewa, Moencopi Day School; Muriel Scott, Hotevilla-Bacavi Day School; Antone Honanie, Hopi Day School; Zelda Yoyokie, Hopi Mission School; Daryl Pahona, Second Mesa Day School; Clyde Qotswisima, First Mesa School; Wilfred Gaseoma, Keams Canyon Elementary School; and Tommy Canyon, Hopi Jr Sr High School.

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