On July 26, 2016, John and Karen Kuranz of the Apex Foundation visited The Hopi School in Hotevilla, AZ, the capital of the Hopi Nation. The school is the vision of Robert Rhodes (Bob), an educator and husband of a Hopi woman, and serves as a bridge between the Hopi tribal community and their history through the teaching of traditional Hopi skills and language. It also promotes a path out of poverty for many of the Hopi students who go on to earn a living from the skills they learn. The Apex Foundation visitors had the pleasure of observing and learning about several classes the school provides:
Hopi Dress Weaving
The weaving class is open to Hopi-initiated students only. Few weavers today know how to construct these traditional dresses, and most of them are unwilling to share their knowledge. The instructor of the class took it upon himself to learn the method so he could teach others. It was a long process, full of painstaking steps, but he now has six male students in various stages of completing their dresses. Each student is in a different walk of life and the Kuranz’s enjoyed hearing their stories and what they planned on doing with their new found skill. Traditional Hopi women’s dresses are in demand now and can bring up to $2,000.
The Special Projects class is one of the few classes not restricted to initiated Hopi students. Each student was working on a specialized project. We met an art teacher (Hopi) who will use what she is learning to teach her own art classes in the Hopi high school. Another woman taking the class lives in Berkeley and plans on sharing what she learns with students from disadvantaged areas of Berkeley through community outreach.
Children’s Art Room
The school also features a children’s art room. Inside were projects of all sorts, including tiles that were made for a mosaic mural that is being constructed on the outside of the classroom. The mural depicts water and blue skies – two extremely important elements for traditional Hopi survival.
New Hopi School Classroom
The Foundation representatives also toured a new “classroom”. It is a double-wide recently purchased for the Hopi School. The land was donated by a friendly neighbor. The building has a large sewing/quilting room, a board room, an office and two other spaces that will eventually become home to a variety of classes.
Bob shared beautiful examples of stained glass and Hopi wicker plaques. He shared many, many photos that showed the incredible talent of the Hopi School students. The full roster of classes available from the Hopi school includes: Weaving, Sewing and Quilting, General Art, Hopi Language, Sifter Basket Weaving, Moccasin Making, Hopi Wicker Plaques, Stained Glass, Embroidery, Hopi Belts, Hopi Foods, Wedding and Rain Sash Braiding and Weaving.
Bob Rhodes is a true champion of the Hopi School. There is no task too big or small for him to accomplish. He exudes love and compassion for the Hopi people and a deep commitment to help them improve their lives through skill-based learning. John and Karen expressed deep gratitude, as part of the Apex Foundation, to be able to contribute to this wonderful organization.