On the Res

Emily S.
By Emily S. & Ibby A.
April 23, 2019

On the Res, a service and cultural immersion-based interim, began with a broken down bus on the side of the highway and a prison van to the rescue. When the exhausted students finally arrived at the home of their Hopi host family in Shungopavi Village after a 20 hour journey, Iva Honyestewa was waiting to greet them; Iva regularly opens up her house to guests that come to visit the reservation, sharing her love and talent as a jeweler with others. As each student stepped off the bus that they hoped to never lay their eyes on again, they embarked on their next amazing journey.


Within an hour, each girl learned from the Deer Hill guides that they would be without running water, pooping in a bucket called the Grover, and peeing in the surrounding bushes because of the limited resources on the Hopi reservation. For the next four days, students participated in service projects, cooked all of their own meals, climbed on top of a roof to watch a traditional Hopi dance, and made necklaces using conventional Hopi techniques from Iva and her friend Jonah Hill, another local jewelry maker.


Every night, students were invited into the warmth of Iva’s home and sat on her kitchen floor, prepared to learn about the Hopi culture. They were given the amazing opportunity to learn about the reservation’s history, clans, government, ceremonies, and religion from an inside perspective.


The students also visited the Navajo reservation. While on the Navajo, they enjoyed a real bed and bathroom for the remainder of the trip, since the Navajo have more access to resources than the Hopi. The girls also traveled to Canyon de Chelly, where they met up with three Navajo guides who led them on a hike down into the canyon and taught them about the ancient Anasazi people. The girls also learned how to make Navajo fried bread--a staple of the Navajo diet--and got to visit a local boarding school and read to kindergartners and second graders.


On the Res gave students a wonderful opportunity to learn about Native American cultures and gain insight into both the Hopi and Navajo rich historical pasts. The girls also were shown immense amounts of kindness and generosity by both the Hopi people and Navajo nation. As the girls left the reservations, Iva’s words of encouragement and strength stayed with them: “Everything will be okay … you were given a lifespan and everything will work out, so never take the easy way out.”