At SFIS, he met my grandmother, Emilia Martinez. She was from Ohkay Owingeh (San Juan Pueblo). They lived at Ohkay Owingeh and had six children: Delfino, Felix, Marcelino, Edward, Andrea, and Cecilia. To me, they were Uncle Del, Uncle Felix, Uncle Mars, and Aunt Cecilia. Edward--we call him Uncle John. He still lives there, at Ohkay Owingeh. Andrea--we call her mom.
When I talk with my mom, we sometimes talk about Thehtay. He lived with us at Nambe Pueblo when I was growing up. I remember him being out back, working the garden with a hoe... Suddenly he'd yell "The beans!" We'd have been playing in the garden as he worked, no doubt un-doing the work he'd been doing to irrigate that garden as we made little dams to divert the irrigation water! Remembering the beans, he'd throw down the hoe and run inside the house to add water to the pot of beans on the stove. When he was older, he'd sit in his wheelchair, softly singing Hopi songs to himself. I wish I'd listened to them, and that I'd learned some of them. What I do have are warm memories of him, of being with him, of his humor.
This morning as I read My Hopi Corn and My Hopi Toys, my thoughts, understandably, turned to Thehtay. Written by Anita Poleahla and illustrated by Emmett Navakuku, the two are board books from Salina Press.
I don't have a memory of Thehtay planting seeds. My memory is of him in a button down shirt and jeans (nothing on his head; not wearing a belt or mocs as shown in the illustration) using a hoe to rid the garden of weeds.
As you see by the illustration, the text in Celebrate My Hopi Corn is in two languages: Hopi, and English. The illustrations are a blend of realistic depictions of people, and, Hopi images like the one of the sun, and later, one of rain clouds. The book ends with a double paged spread of corn maidens:
Corn. Community. Ceremony. Planting. All are important to who the Hopi people are. I really like this little book and wish I could share it with Thehtay. Poleahla and Navakuku's second book, Celebrate My Hopi Toys is a counting book of items used for play, but also for dance. I like it very much, too. Like Celebrate My Hopi Corn, it is bilingual and shows items specific to Hopi people. Poleahla has been working on language instruction for many years. These little books will, no doubt, be much loved by Hopi children, but they're terrific for any child. For children who aren't Hopi, they provide a window to Hopi culture. A window--I will also note--that is provided by insiders who know just what can be shared with everyone.
They are available from Salina Press.