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Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912–1930
Abstract

Abstract:

The Hopi people of northeastern Arizona have always been known as great long distance runners. This article examines Hopi runners at Sherman Institute, an off-reservation Indian boarding school in Riverside, California. When Hopis succeeded on the Sherman Institute crosscountry team between 1912 and 1930, their cultural identities challenged white American perceptions of modernity and placed them in a context that had national and international dimensions. These dimensions linked Hopi runners to other athletes from different parts of the world, including Ireland and Japan, and they caused non-Natives to reevaluate their understandings of sports, nationhood, and the cultures of American Indian people. Furthermore, this article examines Hopi agency, and the complex and various ways Hopi runners navigated between tribal dynamics, school loyalties, and a country that closely associated sports with U.S. nationalism. It calls attention to certain cultural philosophies of running that connected Hopi runners to their village communities, and the internal and external forces that strained these ties when Hopis competed in national and international running events.