“On May 21, 1941, three Hopi men from the Village of Hotevilla, Arizona; Roger (Comahletztewa) Nasevama, Elmer Seequaptewa and Paul (Johonet) Sewemaenewa were found guilty by the U.S. District Court for failing to register for Selective Service. These three men, in addition to Leslie Kootshongsie, Reuben Choykoychi and Fred Pakonva, also from Hotevilla were found guilty days later for the same reason (Arizona Republic, 1941).”
The unwritten oral history of the impact of colonialism on the Hopi people, our aboriginal lands, water, religion and even human remains cannot be found in a library, textbook or online. The living human experience of Hopi people under the boot of a foreign dictator, “To tah’ tsi”, is still felt as post traumatic stress even to this day.
What crime did the six Hopi men commit? These men were part of a sacred Hopi religious society predating the U. S. government whose creed was to make no war against other nations. By adhering to the ancient creed of their religion, the sentence of the six Hopi men was forced labor to break stone with a hand pick to build the highway from Tucson, Arizona up to Mount Lemmon.
“The six Hopi men were being unjustly punished for their beliefs and adhering to a way of life which consisted of not taking up arms against anyone. These Hopi men were trapped between two worlds, reprimanded by a society that didn’t understand them. The six men were found guilty because they were unable to demonstrate creditable church membership and attachment to an American concept of theology. Hence, the United States Government didn’t recognize the Hopi religion as a legitimate religious practice.”
“The Hopi have always been an agricultural and passive people. Status and honor in war has never been a part of Hopi culture, even though the Hopi have had to deal with their share of war throughout their history. Hopi, as a culture, is based on unwritten laws that are used to guide Hopi people to sustain and live the proper way of life. The Hopi Way of Life has helped the Hopi people maintain a strong grip on their culture.”
“The laws of the Hopi Way of Life are set forth at birth and are incorporated into the daily teachings. The Hopi people are different, in the sense that each person has a place in Hopi society and plays a role in the Hopi Way of Life. However, each Hopi individual has the privilege to choose if they want to accept and follow the Hopi Way.”
Other Hopi men have historically shown passive resistance to U. S. government policies and were imprisoned at Alcatraz. At the turn of the century, Kikmongwi Loloma, the Bear Clan leader of Orayvi Village allowed the Mennonite Church to build a school and a church on his land when he learned that the Mennonites had a similar religious belief in not taking a human life.
“Roger Nasevama, who spent nine years of his young adult life at the Catalina Honor Camp in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona, does not understand why those years from 1941-1949 were taken away from him for abiding by the Hopi Way of Life. While others who were sent to the Catalina Honor camp for similar reasons did their time and were released; Roger remained at the camp not knowing if he would ever see his family again.”
“When asked what he remembers most about the Catalina Honor Camp. Roger said, “Macaroni and cheese. We practically ate it every single day and I will not eat a single bite till the day I die.” Roger was released from the Catalina Honor Camp on July 4, 1949.”
Citation: Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, Archivist, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Hopi Tutuveni, May 2, 2017
Other recommended resources on the Catalina Honor Camp are:
“Prisoners and Patriots”, Dr Cherstein Lyon
“No No Boy”, John Okeda, 1956
Google: Gordon Hirabayashi on Japanese prisoners at Catalina Honor Camp
Last Saturday evening, April 10, 2021 the historic Hopi House of the late Elizabeth Q. White (English Name), Polingaysi Qoyawayma (Hopi Name) in Kykotsmovi Village was fully engulfed in flames and burned totally to the ground.
The Hopi House was an icon and notable because it was built as a Hopi two story architectural style and painted a vibrant pink color. The house faced SE towards the morning sun. In the courtyard was a huge cottonwood tree that was planted by her father Fred Qoyawayma and brother Matthew.
The builder and owner of the Hopi House, Polingaysi, is known as a Hopi educator, writer and potter. Polingaysi practiced a unique style of hosting famous visitors to Hopi for a “bond of friendship and sympathetic understanding”. She hosted writers, scientists, artists and anthropological students who came to visit Hopi for a few days or a few weeks. Ernest Hemingway and Theodore Roosevelt stayed in her home while touring the Hopi ceremonies.
As a child, it was a privilege to come to my paternal aunt Polingaysi’s house. There was a long, rectangular room with a long, wood table for group dining. I was put to work ironing the napkins and tablecloths for this table.
The large living room had Navajo floor rugs, leather lounging chairs and the light fixtures were hung underside of colorful Hopi handmade wicker plaques. Upstairs, the bedrooms had large oak beds with colorful Indian pattern pillowcases that I would iron. She taught me to fix beds with sharp corners and no creases on the sheets. There was a door to the outdoor balcony.
Polingaysi cooked several courses of meals with exotic vegetables, meat and fruits. I learned to eat fresh peas at her house. I mostly remember my paternal aunt as a potter as I watched her shaping clay to make bells and pottery bowls with her signature corncob image.
Polingaysi’s life story is well documented. She authored “The Sun Girl: A True Story of Dawamana” that was about real people I knew as a child. “No Turning Back” as told to Vida F. Carlson, is also an excellent biography about Polingaysi’s life. Today her legacy as a pioneer in Hopi bi-lingual education continues on and the Elizabeth White Scholarship at Northern Arizona University carries on her educational intentions for future Hopi generations.
What is a Hopi House? Today we see Hopi ancestral villages throughout the Southwest. Non-Hopis see them as ruins, decayed and uninhabited. These spaces were once warm, inviting and vibrant. Generations were born and lived in the shelters we call a Hopi House.
Polingaysi’s Hopi House was the first Five Star Hostel for visitors who were on a life quest to find themselves. We will miss seeing the Hopi House in Kykotsmovi Village.
By MFredericks, Webmaster
“You have to listen to a fluent speaker in the language for 2,000 hours, and you will then understand about 95% of what that person is saying. After 6,000 hours of being totally immersed in the language, you are functionally bilingual. At 12,000 hours, you would be a fluent speaker. It’s a long journey that depends on the individuals and how motivated and committed they are.” Tribal College Journal, Janine Pease, Language Revitalization at Tribal Colleges and Universities: Overviews, Perspectives, and Profiles, 1993-2018
As a child, age 9 in the 4th grade, I was a fluent Hopi speaker at a child’s level of speaking. I had yet to learn the adult skill level of speaking and communication. I attended the Hopi Day School and we were prohibited from speaking Hopi. There was a long, sterile hallway with double doors at the far end. At the end of the school day, I raced to run out those doors because it meant freedom. Freedom to speak Hopi without punishment. I had no choice. My 100+-year-old grandmother could only speak and understand Hopi. Everything I knew and learned about life was through her, so our communications were in one language only. I lived a double life.
Today, we know that the U.S. Government policies of erasing the Hopi language were flawed and racist. Many children were punished, abused, shamed, abducted and traumatized under this harsh policy. Hopi adults and grand parents who suffered under this type of school system are struggling to maintain and teach the new generations to speak Hopi. It is difficult to overcome the post-traumatic effects of school systems that were intended to erase our identities. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9630875/Remains-215-children-former-indigenous-school-site-Canada.html
Linguists theorize that the root of the Hopi language is a Uto-Aztecan “isolate”. It means the experts do not know the origin of our language. The Hopi people know. The Hopi language is our birthright. There is no other language similar to it in the world. The gift of language is sacred. It has a purpose. On the 20th day of an infant’s birth, this purpose is recited in the Hopi birthing ceremony. Today, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act provides protection of the communal ownership of our language.
Research has been conducted on the loss of the Hopi language by the Hopi people. In 1990, a language survey found that 100% (age 60 or older), 84% (age 40 – 59), and 50% (age 20 – 39) were fluent speakers. In this year of the Covid pandemic, many of these elders have passed on. This creates a great risk of the loss of Hopi language fluency and knowledge for the next generation.
Changes are slowly taking place in Hopi language studies. The Hopi High School now offers Hopi language speaking classes. The Hopi School provides a Hopi language curriculum for preschool age groups. Fluent Hopi speakers are developing books and teaching tools. The Hopi Tribe has developed a formal language policy and certification for teachers. Laverne Masayesva, a Hopi linguist, is a pioneer in the Hopi language studies. The Hopi Dictionary, 1998, prevents further loss of our language. However, it is a consensus of the community that the Hopi language should be taught in the home.
I have hope that if immersion in a language measured by 12,000 hours can insure language fluency protection for adults and children, we can do it. No longer does a child have to stand in the corner in shame, disgraced, abused and ostracized because he/she speaks the Hopi language.
All fluent speakers of an indigenous language must share their gifts and work harder to pass on our birthright of language to children.
You can help by donating funds to Hopi Nonprofits who are striving to protect and preserve the Hopi language.
Hopi Tutuqaiki – Link: Donate to Hopi School Inc DBA Hopitutuqaiki
Hopi Mesa Media – mesamedia.org
Hopi Foundation – hopifoundation.org
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A Human kneels at a gravesite. Alone. World events Whirling. This was what we saw. Why? Who? What makes this place Sacred? The answer lies within that person alone.
It is very difficult to write stories about normal, usual, boring ideas for you in this pandemic. As a public blog site, I owe you interesting stories in return for your loyal readership. It is growing as you share the stories with your friends and family. Usqwali (Thank You).
A Moment of Silence. For all the loved ones that passed before their time in this pandemic. We will need to draw on the depths of inner strengths to begin healing our families, communities and country.
This is what I was thinking as I sat in a U-shaped bend in an arroyo in Northern Arizona. At the apex of the U is a round prehistoric structure. Below it are 12-15 foot cliff faces with enigmatic petroglyphs pecked by prehistoric ancestors. I pondered how I can pay homage and honor their existence in this place they called home.
We know that there were mass migrations across all the continents in prehistory. They were searching. All humans have basic needs:
Belly – Food
Tongue – Water
Heart – Love
Brain – Stories.
In the North American Southwest, we call our ancestors, “Hisat senom”, People of Long Ago. Time immemorial is not quantified by a calendar. It is measured by their footprints across the landscape: ancestral places, pottery sherds, perishables, human remains and all that proves existence of civilizations who searched and found shelter in this place.
We know they found the mother corn-maize. They settled all along the waterways. They hand created living spaces, utility implements and exquisite decorated wares. They expressed ideas, life experiences and picture stories on the rock faces. Most important, they had beliefs in a higher power. This has always been the human-way.
As I sat, I pondered an enigmatic petroglyph. An inverted, google eyed reptile-like image. It was a prominent, lone figure on the rock face, about 3 feet long. It had large five fingered hands and feet. The eyes lay over two natural holes in the cliff face.
I did not try to interpret the meaning of this unusual image. Instead, I thought about the maker. I imagined it was a She. She who gave birth to the next generation. She who processed the food to feed the clan. She who crafted the cooking pot and stoked the home hearth. She who was the guardian when the men were gone.
She believed in a higher power. So She picked up a sharp stone and started pecking an inverted image of the Guardian Spirit.
Inversion is a universal concept, an apotropaic power. An ancestor who guards and protects the living. It is the afterlife, a soul departing from this human form and creating a new existence with the ancestors, rebirth.
This was the message I received with a glad heart. I kneel with the lone human who sat and honored an ancestor, family or friend. Honoring an ancestor is universal to every culture and civilization. Usqwali.
Every good Hopi story starts with a kernel of truth. A burro, a Hopi maiden and slave traders are kernels in this story.
The dates of this story are fluid. It could have been 1846 or 1866. In Hopi memory, it was only yesterday so other facts are more important. Here are three versions.
The Slave Traders
In the Hopi ceremonial calendar time of Soyal (the Prayer Feather Making Time) in the month of December, a New Mexico military militia camped outside of Orayvi on their return from the north. The Hopis were wary of this bunch and shared their food to hurry them along. The next day as the ceremonial priests were entering the kiva, the New Mexicans fired on, killed four Hopi men and seized a number of children and a mature, married woman.
The Hopi Maiden
Qa ö mana, Corn Maiden of the Paaqapngyam (Bamboo) Clan lived in the Hopi village or “Oriva” (Orayvi). In life, she bore a U shaped scar on her face from the kick of a burro that she was tied to when New Mexican slave traders stole her as a child. Her life was determined when the government took unprecedented action to find and return Corn Maiden and eleven other Hopi captive children to their parents.
The mode of travel for the New Mexicans were burros that were tied together in a pack train. One burro was ornery and had a hard kick. Especially with a squirming human on its back.
A Historian’s Version
Robert J. Torrez, a former New Mexico State Historian reports his research on the “predatory band” of a militia company who acted “without authority” to raid the Hopi Village of Orayvi in 1866. A.B. Norton, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico reported that an informant Antonio Sierra provided the names of twenty-one men who carried out the raid. They were from El Rito, Abiquiu’, Conejos, Arroyo Seco, Ojo Caliente, Pueblo of Taos, Rincon and Chama. Many questions remain today. Who were these men? What are their names? Who are their descendents? Who were their slaves? Hopi Tutuveni, August 5, 2020 edition, “The 1866 Attack on Oraibi”.
Edmond Nequatewa’s Version
Wikvaya, the captive woman’s husband and Badger Clan relatives met in the Badger Clan (Honan) kiva to ceremonially plan an undertaking to rescue the Hopi captives. Armed with ceremonial war medicine and three Rio Grande guides, Wikvaya and other Hopi men travelled on foot to Santa Fe to meet with the acting Governor, W.F.M. Arny who issued an Executive Order to all Sheriffs in the territory to assist Special Agent John Ward to recover the children. Masavema told an eyewitness account to Nequatewa, as he was one of the children that was stolen. The family that he was sold to named him “Juan”. He died in 1939. “Hopi History”, Museum of Northern Arizona, January 1951.
Robert J. Torrez reports that the slave raiders found a ready market for their captives and they were scattered in many directions to Tierra Amarilla, Ojo Caliente, El Rito, Arroyo Seco and Conejos in Colorado. All the captives were recovered and returned back into the arms of their Hopi parents.
My Clan Version
Our Clan uncle, Edwin Qotskuyva’s grandmother was the young captive, Qaömana, Corn Maiden. The Paaqapngyam (Bamboo) Clan matriarchs are three sisters: Corn Maiden, Snake Maiden and Poyayumka who form the three branches of our clan relatives living on Third Mesa today. Corn Maiden’s distinctive scar on her face was a visible reminder of the harshness of life in the 1800s as the Hopi strived to maintain their culture, traditions and ceremonies in spite of racial injustices and genocide of the time.
Today, racial injustice is still being practiced by the dominant society against Native American women who are victims of violence, murdered or missing and continue to be part of human trafficking in the U.S., Canada and South America. Many parents are searching for their children. https://nyti.ms/2EPhav7
Masavema said that Qaömana does not like to tell this story. She said, “I have no use for kustila (Mexicans) and she meant it.” Despite her hardship, “she was a good hearted woman and was always ready to give you something to eat.” The surprise is that Qaömana later married Masavema, two children whose parents used all their wits, prayers and magic to save them. Usqwali, Thank You to the government agents who went beyond the call of duty to assist the Hopi people.
Both of these Hopi clan relatives became kernels in a sad but interesting Hopi story of survival.
May not be reprinted without permission. By Webmaster, MFredericks
“It made me cry. A powerful moment. It was just a promise kept. I still get chills thinking about it.” said Jason Salsman following a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Indigenous Treaty Rights. New York Times
“Where ever you are in the Americas, you are on Indian Land.” wrote Sakiestewa-Gilbert (Hopi) in his blog, Beyond The Mesas. I would like to play forward this truth and U.S. history that was upheld by the highest Court of “the Land”.
Look. What do you see – cars, houses, businesses, churches, casinos, skyscrapers, freeways and people of all races, coming and going.
Little reminds us that there were those who lived here before us since time immemorial.
Long ago, my ancestors, The People, walked this land, lived and built a civilization on the Colorado Plateau.
How do I know this? I know, because I see the petroglyphs, pictographs and ancestral sites that remind me of the long forgotten memory of The Land.
Here, among the Hopi mesas, springs, cottonwood trees and butterflies, the ancestors lived a life that gave them meaning and purpose.
When something special in our life is destroyed or taken away, we mourn the loss. Loss may be when we neglect or forget a special person, place or thing. It can return to us as a remembering. A re-membering of the memories.
This Land has a memory. Are you willing to listen to what the Land is saying to us now?
Many of you were born here on this sacred land and will pass on here. Some of you came from other places and now have a life here. Some of you are briefly stopping off here and will move on to other lands.
This place or space is a Shelter, a safe place to raise a family, to grow crops, to build a community, and to celebrate a spiritual center. The land is sacred. You, make it sacred with your memories.
Listen. It has been a mere blink of an eye that this continent was settled. As you walk this land you find an arrowhead, a pottery sherd, a rock cairn, a pictograph that tells you, Someone was here before you.
Where did they live. What did they eat. How did they travel. What did they fear. What dangers did they face. Who was this person who left this piece of the past.
Look. As you walk, you are not alone. You are moving with your twin brother or sister. You clearly see that this is so. Memories at your feet, in front of you, behind you.
As you walk, you drink in the fresh, cool air, the spring water, the songs of the bird people, see the tracks of the animal people, the shooting stars and maybe, hear absolute silence.
This is Harmony. Like an ancient yucca rope, the harmonization of The People to The Land are parallel narratives to be braided together for a continuous pathway, creating special memories on the land.
Whatever hat you wear today, we are only visitors to this special place. How can you do your part in the remembering. To preserve and protect the memory of The Land. To create new memories for your children, grandchildren and future generations.
Our Earth Mother.
SHE is under Our Watch now.
You are Her Caretaker.
August 10, 1680. On this day, the sound of hard breathing, padding of moccasin feet and an intention of great changes came from the East Horizon, in the form of a fast but tired runner who held a rope of twined yucca cord with knots of significance. His was a secret mission.
August 10, 1680, is the Native American version of Independence Day. On this day, all the Pueblos of New Mexico and Hopi Villages overthrew the yoke of Spanish rule in North America. Enough was Enough!
As part of the cleansing of all things Spanish, a decree went out throughout the Pueblo World. I learned of this ritual decree as a child listening to the stories, life and history of the Village of Orayvi from my 100-year-old grandmother.
Her version goes like this. Unknown to the common people, the religious leaders were envisioning, intending and preparing for the overthrow of the Spanish priests, soldiers and devout converts with the People of the East. These meetings were held in secret in canyons and cliffs.
The sacred knotted cord was read, it’s significance received by the religious leaders. So began a new life plan for the “Hopi Senom”, Hopi People. The warrior katsinas made an appearance in the plaza and directed the removal of Spanish influence, tyranny and slave making.
I was reminded of this sacred decree when I informed my grandmother that I was learning Spanish in High School. She quietly reminded me, “Do not speak the language of the “To da tsi”, the Dictator. We must remember the instructions of our religious leaders: Do Not Speak the Spanish Language, Do Not Worship the Spanish Gods, Do Not Build Spanish Churches, Do Not Wear Spanish Clothing, Do Not Eat or Grow Spanish Food. Erase This Person From Our Memory”.
So it remains today, August 10, 2019. You will not see fire works, bands, parades or merry making on our Day of Independence. It was a painful experience that our ancestors lived during the time of the foreigner on our lands that we knew as the Spanish Conquistador and their Spanish Priests.
As I sit in the cool morning breeze, listening to the Morning Dove, I ponder what this decree means in today’s Hopi world. It is like being between a rock and a hard place. Successive Hopi generations may forget or not understand how harsh life as slaves was in the past for our ancestors. Time is relative. The domination by any foreign religion was never our Life Plan. Today, the Katsina Spirits have returned Home and the Hopi can return to their lives as an agrarian society to live on our humble but sacred Homelands, with our own chosen Life Plan. Usqwali.
U’yis muyaw, the planting moon marks the lunar cycle for the new Hopi planting season. The indigenous, drought resistant Mother Corn is reverently selected and cleaned by the women for planting by the Hopi males. A new beginning of an ancient life plan of the Americas begins anew.
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Usqwali! Thank You. MFredericks, Webmaster