HOPI LANGUAGE INITIATIVE: KYAARO
We are seeing now a desolation and decimation of the Hopi Native American culture, language, and way life being infringed upon forcefully by todays “standards” in society. The “standard” in language and schooling in the public school systems that are in place, promote English as a primary language on the reservation. The “standard” of buying your fresh vegetables and meats from the grocery store or chain supermarket, rather than growing it in our own fields and eating from our own land, has quickly and advancedly led to a vast and expanding “food desert” surrounding the Hopi Lands. Quickly we are losing our “heritage” by not being able to communicate with the few elders left to pass on our stories by word of mouth in our native tongue, a tradition that goes back thousands of years.
A great “divide” has been noticeably creeping up on us, and that is the “societal” markers by which we are segregated today. While our elders are still planting their fields and participating in Kiva (Hopi Prayer Gatherings) and Ceremonies, passing on what they can to anyone who will listen, others are extremely resentful of how “easily” we Hopi have been assimilated by “western society” and refuse to impart any knowledge on the grounds we are “undeserving”. Our young ones, the future generations are running around shooting “selfies” (self portraits) of themselves to text to their friends or post on social media, spend all day long on the internet or some form of digital entertainment like a cell phone, television, a tablet, video game, etc… what ever happened to playing outside with sticks and rocks? Making pretend piki (Hopi Blue Corn Flat Bread) out of mud and playing Katchinas? I suppose some still do, and not all is lost, however they are far and few between. So with all this “sensory” input, all these waves and vibrations bombarding our children’s minds, don’t you think it is time we are called into action?
But what if we could start from scratch? What if instead of lamenting ALL that we have “lost” along the centuries, which started with our raiding neighbors, and later ended with westernization, which has been MUCH… instead we rejoice in that which HAS survived. Which is our language, let us not forget it is still here, and even though it is not a majority, not even half of the people on the reservation speak Hopi, nevertheless it is still here, and WE CAN STILL LEARN IT! WE CAN SAVE IT!
What if instead of damming the unstoppable rate of progress, we were to somehow marry the two problems. We are losing our language rapidly. More rapidly than we can institute a curricular change in the public school system, although that would be a dream come true. No. Stopping progress is not the answer. We saw how that worked for our ancestors. Those who did oppose went extinct, and we therefore lost precious knowledge and wisdom when we lost those individuals… No. How about instead, we embrace the social media revolution and embrace the technological progress that seems to be growing exponentially on its own and reflect on those as part of our teachings. It is true that Spider Woman said to us that she would protect us and connect us by one day having a web encompass us all. It seems as though the wisdom is clear, and the answer is right in front of us.
Sumi’nangwa Learning Center is a project that will enable us to impart this Sacred and spiritual knowledge of the Hopi Way of Life to our youth before we lose ourselves in modern ways and completely forget our traditions, spirituality, and language. More than 70% of all children on the Hopi Land and Native American Indian Reservation have English as their ONLY language, and never learn Hopi. We plan to help aid this transition of the language through various learning initiatives like an interactive coloring/activity book and a mobile device AP that can be downloaded for free and help teach our kids the Hopi Native Tongue.
We hope to be able to release Kyaaro with a basic release that we will keep expanding, perhaps by adding expansion packs to include new lessons, and age-specific phrases or commands.
Kyaaro will also be used to enable a spark of interest in a “classroom style” learning for the preservation and teaching of the Hopi Language. Workbooks which will include coloring activities, puzzles, story-telling, as well as learning videos will be produced and converted to online video clips (Episodes on YouTube Channel) and downloadable PDF format versions of the workbooks will be made available on the internet as well, for home study.
Social media will help enable the spread of our message and in the hopes of going viral, for the first time in our history, our native population would benefit from this virus that we would be able to call our own, the concerted effort to save our language, and thereby giving our cultural heritage a chance. It is exciting to consider, that once we start communicating in our mother tongue again, perhaps we can really learn to speak to each other once more. That is our Hope.
Our focus and concentrated effort will begin on the Hopi reservation, however through the internet and social media, quickly our options of learning will become available to other Hopi and non-Hopi people worldwide.