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Education beyond the Mesas

Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

Publication Year: 2010

Education beyond the Mesas is the fascinating story of how generations of Hopi schoolchildren from northeastern Arizona “turned the power” by using compulsory federal education to affirm their way of life and better their community. Sherman Institute in Riverside, California, one of the largest off-reservation boarding schools in the United States, followed other federally funded boarding schools of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in promoting the assimilation of indigenous people into mainstream America. Many Hopi schoolchildren, deeply conversant in Hopi values and traditional education before being sent to Sherman Institute, resisted this program of acculturation. Immersed in learning about another world, generations of Hopi children drew on their culture to skillfully navigate a system designed to change them irrevocably. In fact, not only did the Hopi children strengthen their commitment to their families and communities while away in the “land of oranges,” they used their new skills, fluency in English, and knowledge of politics and economics to help their people when they eventually returned home. Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert draws on interviews, archival records, and his own experiences growing up in the Hopi community to offer a powerful account of a quiet, enduring triumph.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series: Indigenous Education


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. ix-xi

This book is first and foremost a historical account of the Hopi people of northeastern Arizona and their experiences at Sherman Institute, an off-reservation Indian boarding school in Riverside, California. The Hopi Tribe possesses no greater historical source than its people. Therefore, a book on the Hopi people...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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pp. xvii-xxxii

Hopi oral history recalls that long ago, the Hopi people came into this “fourth way of life” from a series of three underworlds.1 Following a time of unhappiness and discontent, the people emerged through an opening in their sky that brought them to present-day northeastern Arizona. When...

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1. Hopi Resistance

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pp. 1-27

In the summer of 1540, a group of Hopis from the village of Kawaiokuh on Antelope Mesa looked over the mesa’s edge and observed a band of people they had never seen on their land.1 The Hopis had encountered a Spanish exploratory party of seventeen cavalrymen, a small number of foot soldiers,

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2. Policies and Assimilation

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pp. 29-49

The forced removal of Hopis to reservation schools did not fully satisfy the U.S. government’s assimilation or acculturation agenda. Government officials desired that Hopis would be grafted into American society and leave their indigenous ways behind. In the early twentieth century,...

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3. The Orayvi Split andHopi Schooling

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pp. 52-70

On September 8, 1906, shortly after the sun rose over the Hopi mesas, the two Hopi factions gathered outside Orayvi and engaged in a tug-of-war that forever changed the future of the Hopi people.1 While more than fi ve hundred Hopi men gathered outside the...

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4. Elder in Residence

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pp. 71-94

In November 1906, two months after the Orayvi Split, government offi cials took advantage of the turmoil on Third Mesa and sent nearly seventy Hopis from Orayvi to Sherman Institute. Wearing tattered clothes, “cheap shoes, homemade fl our sack shirts” and worn out pants, the...

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5. Taking Hopi Knowledgeto School

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pp. 96-113

Education for indigenous people did not originate at U.S. government schools.1 For the Hopi students who traveled with Tawaquaptewa to Sherman Institute in 1906, education began in their villages and centered on values that encompassed the beauty and complexity of Hopi...

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6. Learning to Preach

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pp. 116-135

On June 2, 1915, nearly six hundred Indian pupils gathered in the main auditorium at Sherman Institute. Eager to see their classmates graduate at the school’s thirteenth annual baccalaureate ceremony, the pupils filed into the auditorium, quickly took their assigned seats, and waited for the service to begin....

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7. Returning to Hopi

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pp. 138-161

In the ancient Hopi migrations, the clans traveled beyond the mesas and migrated in the four cardinal directions. The clans did not stay away forever, but eventually returned to their ancestral lands. Hopi clans had experienced a different life beyond the Hopi mesas, and when they returned home...

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pp. 163-169

Hopis have a long history of resisting and accommodating foreign powers. When the U.S. government demanded that Hopi children attend various day schools and the Keams Canyon School in the late nineteenth century, some Hopis resisted government offi cials with their actions and words,...


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pp. 172-173


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pp. 175-206


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pp. 208-218


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pp. 220-237

E-ISBN-13: 9780803234444
E-ISBN-10: 0803234449
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803216266
Print-ISBN-10: 0803216262

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 1 appendix
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Indigenous Education
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794700536
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Education beyond the Mesas

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Hopi Indians -- Education -- History -- 20th century.
  • Hopi Indians -- Ethnic identity -- History -- 20th century.
  • Hopi Indians -- Cultural assimilation -- History -- 20th century.
  • Hopi Indians -- Government relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • Government, Resistance to -- Southwest, New -- History -- 20th century.
  • Sherman Institute (Riverside, Calif.) -- History -- 20th century.
  • Indian students -- California -- Riverside -- History -- 20th century.
  • School children -- California -- Riverside -- History -- 20th century.
  • Off-reservation boarding schools -- Social aspects -- California -- Riverside -- History -- 20th century.
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