Dr. Barbara Chester
Throughout her work and her being, Barbara became part of the Hopi family. In 1997, upon learning of Barbara’s serious illness, The Hopi Foundation Board formally recognized her with the following resolution:
The Hopi Foundation declared Barbara Chester to be a member of the Hopi Foundation family now and forever.”
Upon her death in October 1997, The Hopi Foundation, family and friends of Barbara established the Barbara Chester Award. In issuing this award, The Foundation and other supporters wished to: (1) honor outstanding persons undertaking the arduous and often dangerous work of providing healing services in circumstances of torture; (2) call attention to such abuses directed against specific regions and communities; and (3) draw worldwide support for prevention of torture and associated trauma.
The Award includes a cash prize of U.S. $10,000, and a handcrafted silver eagle feather sculpture featuring Hopi symbolism for healing and qa tutsawinvu – “freedom from fear of intimidation from any source.” The Barbara Chester Award embodies Hopi values of caring, healing, and courage: the same values by which Barbara lived her life.
Because Mercy Has A Human Heart
The question has been asked: Why would a Native American organization – The Hopi Foundation -- be interested in healing survivors of torture? And why would the Hopi sponsor an international humanitarian award named after a woman – Barbara Chester – born and reared in New York?
The answer can be expressed in the translation of a Hopi word, one that represents a significant and beautiful love between Barbara Chester, the Hopi people, and humankind.
The phrase, qatsit namiwiwta, means: “To intertwine their life ways.”
The Intertwining Life Ways
This sense of interconnected unity is not just an abstract goal. Founded in 1985, Hopi people established The Hopi Foundation to provide a community-based, non-governmental alternative to promote self-reliance in the spirit of Lomasumi’nangtuksiwmani – the process of furthering unity of aspiration blossoming into full maturity over time. Entirely Hopi run, The Hopi Foundation engages in activities and programs that foster the preservation and revitalization of cultural strengths and self-determination for the benefit of all people, and the reconciliation of conflict among societies.
In 1992, The Hopi Foundation acted to address the needs of their indigenous counterparts to the south. During the 1970s and 1980s, repressive governments of Central and South America increased their use of torture as a tactic to intimidate perceived enemies. The result was a flood of refugees north to the United States, many of them women and children, many torture survivors. In fact the U.S.-Mexican border became a gateway for people across the world to escape torture and violence. The Hopi Foundation’s Board of Trustees noted that it was particularly fitting that the Hopi – known as people of peace – be the originating force for a project dedicated to healing the destructive legacy of violence.
In 1992, working with The Hopi Foundation, Barbara founded the Center for the Prevention and Resolution of Violence (CPRV) in Tucson, Arizona. CPRV joined forces with members of the courageous Sanctuary Movement and the Southside Presbyterian Church to provide multidisciplinary and integrated care to refugees and others impacted by torture and violence. The CPRV provided and facilitated medical treatment, psychotherapy, alternative forms of healing, and client advocacy and education, and ran an anti-violence prevention program for youth. Today, The Hopi Foundation continues to support Owl & Panther, a creative writing program for youth and their families
In honor of the life and work of Dr. Barbara Chester, The Hopi Foundation has established an award for outstanding clinicians and practitioners who treat victims of torture, their families and communities. In issuing this award, we hope to honor the worthy persons who undertake the difficult and often dangerous work of providing healing services in circumstances of torture. We hope also to call attention to such abuses directed against specific regions and communities, and draw worldwide support for prevention of torture and associated trauma.