Hopi language class March 11 at Hopi Veterans Memorial Center

Mesa Media is presenting a free Hopi language class at the Hopi Veterans Memorial Center in Kykotsmovi on March 11 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for junior high and high school students ages 12-18.

Mesa Media Treasurer and Grants Officer Kristin Huisinga said the Hopi language class is her non-profit company's first event to help get kids inspired to actually learn and practice speaking the language. The class takes place during spring break. Huisinga hopes to get at least 100 attendees.

Mesa Media produces compact discs, DVDs, books and other multi-media materials to promote and teach the Hopi language.

"There's been other conferences geared toward the scholarly side of the Hopi language, presenting things and discussing things, but there's never really been anything interactive," said Huisinga. "So this will be the first of our workshops, this is for youth, and we'll do another one this summer sometime for teachers, which will be a training kind of workshop, so we're excited to do more hands on stuff."

This interactive language class will feature approximately eight to 12 teachers manning different stations and tables where students can learn using each teacher's unique activity. Teen helpers and student-teachers will also man certain stations.

"Each teacher has his or her own specialty for activities they're developing that they will use," Huisinga said. "The kids will receive worksheets and they will get some of our materials including CDs, DVDs, and books. So they will go away with a packet of materials they can use at home or share with their parents and siblings."

Huisinga added that organizers of the Hopi language class are keeping the learning activities fun. She said they don't want to give attendees homework assignments, but give them a true interest in and knowledge of the Hopi language.

"There will also be a keynote speaker so the adults can stay and participate as well, but the materials and activities themselves are really developed for junior high and high school students," said Huisinga.

According to Huisinga, Anita Poleahla and the late Ferrell Secakuku founded Mesa Media because they wanted to pass on the language.

"The Hopi believe that without the language the culture will not survive, because they need to understand the deeper meaning," Huisinga said.

Poleahla and Secakuku started with CDs and music. They used song as a way to educate, entertain and inform listeners about the Hopi language.

Once Secakuku died, Poleahla changed Mesa Media's focus to developing teaching materials. Poleahla has years of experience developing curriculum having taught the Hopi language for decades.

A grant given to Mesa Media from the Native Youth and Culture Fund is paying for the upcoming Hopi language class.

"The grant was centered around youth and teaching young people the language, which is one we've applied to before," Huisinga said. "They encourage those that receive their grants to involve youth and to do hands-on activities to help them build pride and knowledge about their culture."

The Native Youth and Culture Fund is part of the First Nations Development Institute. Huisinga said that the project is also made possible in part by the Christensen Fund and the Flagstaff Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Arizona Community Foundation.

She added if more money is available, Mesa Media would love to continue this class each year.

Huisinga recommends parents and students register soon because materials are limited. The first 100 to register will receive supplies. To register, call or email Bonnie Secakuku at (928) 737-2356 or bjsecakuku@yahoo.com.

More information about Mesa Media and the Hopi language class is available at mesamedia.org.

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