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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Prof. humble about nat’l award

    A UA professor has received a prestigious national excellence award for his work in preserving the Hopi American Indian culture.

    Emory Sekaquaptewa,

    I will continue to work on anything and everything that’s significant to me and the preservation of the Hopi culture.

    -Emory Sekaquaptewa, anthropology professor

    an anthropology professor, said that while he is grateful for the award – the Spirit of the Heard Award from the Heard Museum in Phoenix – his focus lies completely on his work and what he can do for the Hopi culture.

    “”I know that I still have a lot of work to do,”” Sekaquaptewa said. “”These are things that just need to be done.

    Right now, he said, his main concern is preserving the Hopi language. Sekaquaptewa wrote the first dictionary documenting the Hopi language in 1998, a book published by UA Press.

    The dictionary is significant not only for the Hopi community but also for all American Indian cultures, Sekaquaptewa said.

    American Indian languages are not traditionally written, and as a result, several dialects have died out, he said.

    Since very few people speak these languages, Sekaquaptewa’s dictionary is a step in the right direction toward essential cultural preservation, he said.

    Born on the Third Mesa Hopi Reservation in Arizona, Sekaquaptewa believes his standing within the Hopi community
    allows him insight into the culture that cannot be taught or researched.

    “”(Preserving the Hopi culture) is my whole life,”” he said. “”I identify with the community not strictly as a scholar or academic, but as someone who lives it.””

    In addition to teaching the course Hopi Language in Culture, Sekaquaptewa is an appellate justice of the Hopi Tribe. He has also had several scholarly articles published concerning the Hopi.

    Heard Museum director Frank Goodyear Jr. said Sekaquaptewa’s credentials leave no wonder as to why he was chosen to receive the museum’s national award.

    Sekaquaptewa’s efforts to serve the American Indian community should be recognized by the public, Goodyear said.

    “”(Sekaquaptewa’s) dedication to preserving all aspects of Hopi culture, his accomplishments in the Indian law field and his work as an educator at the University of Arizona serve as an inspiration to all of us at Heard,”” he said. “”We are truly honored to present the Spirit of the Heard Award to such a stellar figure.””

    The award was created in 2004 by the museum’s Board of Trustees Native American Advisory Committee to honor living members of American Indian tribes who have demonstrated personal excellence in their lives. The award reflects the museum’s overall goal of educating the public about the heritage of American Indian peoples, said Kate Crowley, marketing and communications manager for the Heard Museum.

    “”(The UA) is lucky to have such a visionary as Emory Sekaquaptewa as a professor,”” she said.

    Sekaquaptewa’s current ventures include laying the foundations for Hopi literacy programs at schools on the reservation.

    “”I will continue to work on anything and everything that’s significant to me and the preservation of the Hopi culture,”” he said. “”I’ll be doing that for as long as I live.””

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