A fluent speaker of the Hopi language, Ferrell Secakuku co-founded Mesa Media in 2004. He earned his M.S. degree in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University at the age of 69. His thesis explored the similarities between the Snake Society at Hopi and MesoAmerican snake ceremonies. Ferrell was involved in many efforts to preserve Hopi culture. He served for many years as a cultural consultant for the Smithsonian Museum. He composed the music for the songs on Mesa Media’s learning CDs and wrote all of the songs for the Living Through Hopi Songs CD. He coordinated the Supawlavi Village Peach Orchard Restoration Project, which seeks to reunite Hopi people with agricultural practices associated with springs. During his four-year term as Tribal Chairman, Ferrell helped conclude the Hopi-Navajo land dispute and acquired $30 million for the Hopi Health Care Center. Ferrell was a true leader in both the modern business world and as an active member in ceremonies at Supawlavi Village (Second Mesa). In July 2007, Ferrell passed away after several months of illness, but his vision to provide opportunities for Hopi people lives on.
Anita Poleahla co-founded Mesa Media in 2004. Since 2003, she has taught the Hopi language in the Hopi Public School System, which, in addition to her work as the Hopi Lavayi Curriculum Developer, has provided experience in developing classroom curriculum and teacher training materials. Anita is the first certified Hopi language teacher in the State of Arizona (Arizona Department of Education Hopi K-12). She earned two M.S. degrees in Public Administration and Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. In 2008, she became an American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) Sequoyah Fellow and presented at the 2008 AISES National Conference in Anaheim, CA. Anita also presented at the Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium in 2009 at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Anita co-wrote many of the lyrics for the songs on Mesa Media’s learning CDs and consults with a number of Hopi organizations on Hopi language. Anita was raised in a traditional home at First Mesa and is a fluent Hopi speaker.
Joycelyn Secakuku is a semi-fluent Hopi speaker from the village of Sipaulovi. Her Hopi name is Piqöshaynöm and she is a member of the Sun Forehead Clan. Joycelyn is one of Ferrell’s grand-daughters. She started as a student intern with Mesa Media as a student in high school and has been involved for over ten years. Joycelyn can now understand Hopi and feels more comfortable speaking Hopi. She just graduated so she can pursue work as medical billing & coding specialist. Joycelyn attends almost every Mesa Media event, always there to help with registration and organizing the event. Joycelyn shares “I realized that there was so much that could be done using the Hopi language. The work that Mesa Media had done was an inspiration, which has encouraged me to learn more about my language.”
Joannie Takala is a teacher at Hopi Junior/Senior High School.
Kristin Harned assists Mesa Media with daily operations including event planning, bookkeeping, website development and grant writing. She earned a masters degree in Botany from Northern Arizona University and co-wrote the book River and Desert Plants of the Grand Canyon. Since 2001, Kristin has worked for the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office on Grand Canyon ethnobotany studies. For ten years, she worked as a river guide in Grand Canyon. In 2013, she began her own craniosacral and wellness healing practice in New Mexico where she lives.
Mesa Media's Advisory Board provides a forum for knowledgeable Hopi community members to offer their perspective on our projects and organizational goals. Many of our learning materials were developed directly from ideas and needs brought to us directly by Hopi people.
Hopi advisory board members review and advise on Mesa Media’s educational resources, their cultural appropriateness and their ability to meet the needs of the Hopi people. We involve Hopi board members from a variety of villages on all three Hopi Mesas. Each mesa has its own dialect, with its own nuances, yet each is rooted in the basics of the Hopi language. Therefore, each Hopi individual is diverse in their understanding of the language but also in their teachings from the village, clan, religious society, and relatives.
Cultural scholar Edna Komalestewa is a fluent speaker and a member of the Sand Clan. She is from Sitsom’ovi and is very active in the elderly and youth programs at the village. She encourages her children and grandchildren to speak Hopi and carry on Hopi traditions.
Cultural scholar Rosalie Kaye is a fluent speaker from Sitsom’ovi. She is a member of the Flute Clan and is very active in the village activities. She advises on language and cultural sensitivity.
Cultural scholar Leigh Kuwanwisiwma is a fluent speaker from Bacavi. He is a member of the Greasewood Clan. Leigh has over 30 years of experience working with elders, community members, agencies and other tribes as the Director of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. When he is not in the office, he can be found in his fields.
Cultural scholar Max Taylor is a fluent speaker from Songoopavi. He is a member of the Sun Clan. Max has worked for the Department of Natural Resources for over 20 years to promote sustainable range use, restoration of waterways and the passing on of teachings about wild Hopi foods. He teaches workshops and classes to help Hopi people reconnect with knowledge about wild Hopi plant use.
Cultural scholar Jolene Johns is a fluent Hopi speaker from Songoopavi. She is a member of the Water Clan. Jolene works with preschool children at Hopi Head Start and specializes in assisting children with special needs.
Cultural scholar Loretta Goldtooth first got involved with Mesa Media two years ago. Her son took Anita’s Hopi language class in high school. Loretta can understand Hopi and she knows some vocabulary. She was not taught Hopi as a child so she is now working on her fluency by building her conversational skills. Loretta is from the village of is a single mother with five boys. Mesa Media is extremely important in her life.
Recording specialist Peter Bungart has a Master’s Degree in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University and has nearly 30 years experience in Southwest archaeology, ethnohistoric studies and multimedia development. He has worked as an employee or consultant for the Hualapai, Hopi, Navajo, Yavapai-Prescott, and Yavapai-Apache tribes. Peter has presented oral history and GIS based projects at a number of professional meetings, including the Society for Applied Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association. He began working as Mesa Media’s recording specialist in 2009. Without Peter’s expertise, the creation of appealing multimedia materials would not be possible.
Jim McCormack served as the Treasurer and Media Specialist for 6 years. Jim lived on the Hopi Reservation for over 10 years where he worked as a media specialist for a local ministry. Jim passed away in 2013. Eskwelí Jim for all you contributed.
Hello, my name is George Mase. I am a member of the Sun Forehead Clan from the village of Sipaulovi. My Hopi name is Qötsvuyoama. I grew up on the Hopi Reservation and spoke Hopi as a child before entering school. After graduating from high school, I attended DeVry Institute in Phoenix, AZ. Following this graduation, I was hired by Collins Radio, a Division of Rockwell International, to work on ship-to-shore communications equipment for the military. This required moving to sunny Southern California in the Orange County area. I have also worked on Medical systems for Philips Ultrasound, a division of Phillips Medical Systems and for Advanced Sterilization Products, a division of Johnson & Johnson. For these two companies, I worked as a Quality Assurance Engineer doing Software and Hardware Verification & Validation. All together I spent nearly 30 years in California. During my trips home, I realized how much of the Hopi language was being lost just by not communicating in Hopi with the younger generation who were not speaking Hopi. This will take time to rectify, but it will be worth the effort.
Bonnie Secakuku is from Sipaulovi Village (Second Mesa) and is a member of the Butterfly Clan. She has worked for the Sipaulovi Development Corporation. Bonnie is a third generation entrepreneur and has helped with the family business for over 25 years (her grandfather Hale Secakuku and father Ferrell Secakuku owned their own businesses). Bonnie is also a very active member in her village and broader community, serving on the School Board as well as on other non-profit boards. Bonnie says, “My reason for serving on the Board is to assist with the efforts of continuing our Hopi language. I, myself, am not a fluent speaker and know it is the very core and heart of being Hopi. I need to speak and I want to be a role model to my people that we can bring back our language.”
Daryl Pahona is a fluent Hopi speaker from Walpi Village on First Mesa. He served on Mesa Media’s Advisory Board for 2 years. He is from the Fire Clan or KooKoop and has many responsibilities as a clan leader. His Hopi name is Saqhongva, which was given to him by his godfather who is from the Bamboo clan. This name means standing tall and strong. Daryl is also a father and grandfather. He says “The Hopi language is very important to me in that it is our identy. It serves as our passport to our next life. Like those before me I feel that it is a duty/responsibility to pass this on so our future generations may reap of its fruits and prosper as we have from our forefathers efforts.” Thank you Daryl for all you have done to perpetuate the Hopi language.
Greg Glassco served on Mesa Media’s Executive Board for 3 years. He received an M.S. degree in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University while working on a farming revitalization project at Bacavi Spring on Third Mesa. Greg is a professional archaeologist and currently works for the Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe in their office of cultural preservation. He is an accomplished farmer who exchanges knowledge of cultivation and seed collection with native people all over the Southwest. Thank you Greg for all you contributed to Mesa Media.
My name is Violet Leslie and my Hopi name is Tuvapopongmana (piñon picking girl). I am a member of the Flute/Deer Clan from First Mesa, village of Sichomovi. My interest is to learn how to speak Hopi fluently. I am a beginner and I have always been fascinated with the unique Hopi language. I would like to support a holistic approach that will instill both young and adult Hopi people to learn how to speak Hopi and to help in any fashion that will encourage both the written and oral teaching of this much needed language project. Also, I would like to help Mesa Media with Hopi Language projects and in finding funds to support its endeavors.