Back in May of 2010, Hatch’s reservation expert, Magnolia, and online social networking guru, Marie, traveled to Hopi Second Mesa (near Kykotsmovi, AZ) with Native Voices to help with Leigh Kuwanwisiwma’s family’s dry-farm corn and bean planting. We met Joelle Clark of Native Voices early on Saturday morning in a Flagstaff, AZ parking lot and then drove north to Kykotsmovi with a few guides from other rafting companies. Once family members had gathered, we were tutored in the use of the home-welded digging posts and planting techniques by Leigh Kuwanwisiwma. Buckets of purple corn were divided among the guides and family members and we all set to work under an amazing blue sky. Each planting was about ten feet from the next. At each bout a dozen kernels were sunk about ten inches down into moist, sandy soil. We moved on to another field to plant red corn to avoid cross pollination. Then, still another field we planted with a brown, flat bean. The beans were planted only about six inches deep and would also not be watered, but for the rain. After hours of stooping and digging, the Kuwanwisiwma family treated us all to an amazing dinner of traditional Hopi foods like piki, a rolled wafer bread made with blue corn meal cooked on a special stone and somiviki, a sweet blue cornmeal steamed in corn husks.
We had a great time joking with family members and sharing a bond commonly formed with hard labor and exceptional food.
Magnolia and I were eager to return in August to help load and unload a traditional sweet corn roasting pit with the Kuwanwisiwma family. This time, we slept under the stars as the corn roasted. After loading the roasting pit and before nightfall we watched the traditional Hopi Flute Dance which ushers in the rains to give the beans and corn we planted a good monsoon watering. We awoke before sunrise to remove to clay cap on the roasting pit and empty it of hot corn. Most of the unloading of the pit was done by the men. The woman sat around the pit and shucked the corn. The shucked corn was loaded into a truck and brought back to the Kuwanwisiwma household where we all sat in the shade and strung the ears on wire to be hung to dry. We were then treated to a breakfast buffet al fresco and left the family with enough roasted corn for two years.
May 2010 corn and bean planting photos
August 2010 corn roast photos
Native Voices on the Colorado River is a cultural interpretive program for Grand Canyon Colorado River Outfitters Association on Native American perspectives of the Grand Canyon. The cultural workshops and program offerings are intended for river guides working with the Grand Canyon Colorado River outfitters.The goal of the program is to increase understanding and communication about the relationships of affiliated tribes with the Grand Canyon from their own perspectives. The voices heard in this program are from individuals representing their communities. Keep in mind there are many opinions and perspectives in any given community and many resources that can be used to help increase our collective knowledge.
The tribal affiliations include the following: Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Navajo, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah (representing the Shivwits Paiute), Las Vegas Paiute, Moapa Band of Paiute Indians, San Juan Southern Paiute, Yavapai-Apache (representing the White Mountain, San Carlos, Yavapai and Tonto nations), and the Pueblo of Zuni.
Native Voices of the Colorado River was last modified: July 22nd, 2015 by