I chased a double rainbow. As I topped Howell Mesa, the monsoons were raging in a distance. The background skies were dark blue. Thunderclouds with dark virga, hanging and sweeping the ground. The Cloud People, bestowing blessings of moisture once again.
Other vehicles stopped off the highway to view the bright colors of the multicolored rainbow stretching across the valley. I chased the illusive arc until I was able to see both ends of the rainbow and stopped for a photograph. I took a pano shot hoping for a full semicircular view and both ends of the rainbow. The air was moist, the grass sparkled from the raindrop reflections of the afternoon sun.
As I turned to get back into my vehicle, I realized that I stopped directly across from a roadside memorial. I have passed this memorial many times and silently remembered the how and why of this special, humble spot. I got goose bumps on my skin.
I returned to this memorial with an intention. I left an offering of gratitude. I do not know if it was appropriate. But the meaning of the offering was intended to be a personal expression of gratitude.
Recently, I sat in a roomful of representatives of the U.S. Marshals Services, along with other high level officials of the U.S. Department of Justice. This meeting was very unusual, as it is very rare for these officials to visit the Hopi Reservation, in person. Under the Biden and Haaland Administration, the impossible is becoming possible with new changes for Tribes in federal law enforcement and Justice services.
During the meeting, a gift of a metal token that represents the U.S. Marshal seal was given to the Hopi representatives. The seal is a six-pointed star, a bald eagle clutches an olive branch and arrows in its talons. The colors represent courage and blood shed in carrying out duties. “Justice. Integrity. Service.”
I studied this seal and researched the symbols. The meaning of the Star, Eagle and Arrow is similar to Hopi understanding. I knew where this seal should be placed as a remembering of honor and sacrifice; the humble roadside memorial at milepost 360.5.
On September 17, 1988, Hopi “Police Officer Dean James was shot and killed when he attempted to arrest a suspect who had escaped from the Hopi Tribal Jail the previous day.”
He was 34 years old, married with three sons and a daughter. His maternal clan was Bear and paternal clan was Greasewood/Reed. He grew up in Kykotsmovi Village.
Officer James was on duty when “he observed the escapee hitchhiking along the highway” between milepost 360 and 361. The escapee “opened fire with a .22 caliber rifle, mortally wounding Officer James”. officerdownmemorialpage, odmp.org
This place now marks a humble memorial.
I left the offering of the U.S. Marshal seal at this place. My hope is that when the family and clan comes to clean and care for the memorial, they will see and understand the meaning and feel a small measure of gratitude and honor for their sacrifice.
This special place is found at the end of a double rainbow.
Remembering Dean James
A father, son, clan nephew, husband
A blessing of hard male rain fell on Bear’s Ears National Monument (BENM) yesterday, Saturday, June 18, 2022. It is now official. A historic event took place to “officially recognize the cooperative agreement between five sovereign Native Nations and federal agencies for the co-management of BENM”.
The day started out, getting up early to drive up to Bear’s Ears Meadows from Bluff, Utah to join the official contingent. Driving up the winding, dirt forest road was heady as within minutes you are at 7,000 feet high, driving through the saddle between the Bear’s Ears. We encountered no vehicles and wondered, where are all the officials? It was a chilly 60 degrees as raindrops started to fall. The meadows were lush with green grass, the cattle were fat and contented and the Aspens were bright in the shadows.
We drove several dirt roads but it was clear we were either lost or no one was up on the mountain. So we decided to make the most of the day and drove into the Natural Bridges National Monument. The rain continued to fall and thunder boomed over the canyons. It was time to leave. We decided to take the scenic route back to Bluff, down the switchbacks of the Moqui Dugway. This Hwy 261 takes you the edge of the world as it winds down off Cedar Mesa to the Hwy 163 junction.
At the junction of Hwy 163 we saw official looking vehicles parked alongside the road. We stopped as we finally found the officials we were looking for. More vehicles arrived and the celebration of unveiling the official BENM public sign took place. In attendance were the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and representatives of the Hopi Tribe, Zuni Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe and Navajo Nation.
The official BENM signage depicts an ancestral puebloan dwelling with a backdrop of “Hon mrzu” Bear’s Ears in the background. A few hours later the rain started and drenched the parched ground in blessing of the end of an extraordinary day!
Please visit the Friends of Cedar Mesa Visitor/Education Center in Bluff, Utah for a full orientation to the restoration of the Bear’s Ears National Monument.
Every word we utter, in any language, is a gift from the Creator. Spoken words carried by breath vibrations, is evident as early as the 16th Century on the Codex Boturini.
The Hopi Way of Life has survived hundreds of years based on an oral tradition, the spoken word, supplemented by sign language. The brain of our ancestors and grandmothers possessed an encyclopedic command of language. This became our oral language, a birthright guiding the Hopi Way of Life.
As the Hopi encountered strangers, friendly and foe, we also learned sign language to communicate. Information was shared through stories, songs, ceremonies, body motions, and rituals. Those who do not understand this oral language call it myth.
Then another stranger arrived who made strange marks with an implement or required our thumbprints. Our ancestors rejected this forced way of communicating our name, clan and home place.
The negative consequence of a forced transition from an oral tradition to the written word is starkly evident in a timeworn conflict between Western Culture and First Peoples of this American Continent, that is the U.S. Federal Court Systems.
Wordsmith-ing became a sharp blade. English is not of indigenous origin. The root words of English originated on another continent. A wrong word, wrong sentence, misstatement or a word not said is death to the Hopi Way of Life.
“Indian Tribes” are recognized in the U. S. Constitution. The Federal Government must “treat” with the Indians under the Commerce Clause. This written system is codified in Treaties, Executive Orders and Reservations of Land.
The Hopi “Reserve” was established by Executive Order in 1880 and the Hopi Constitution was written by a White Man and adopted in 1934.
Stark examples of the negative consequences of the use of the written word is found in the highest laws of the land, the U. S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts.
The Hopi-Navajo Land Dispute was created by one sentence in the 1880 Executive Order, “and other Indians located thereon…”
“Chief Justice Marshall termed tribes “domestic dependent nations,” with the federal/tribal relationship resembling “that of a ward to his guardian.”
“in common with all citizens of the United States”, Treaty With The Makah, 1855
The “Full Spirit of the Law”, as understood by the First Peoples, must be based on the original spoken language. It would be earth shaking to read a federal court decision written in the language of any Indian Nation!
The role of the legislative analyst, writer, and researcher is paramount to change the laws written on behalf of U.S. Tribal Nations. Indian professionals who know how to read, write and speak the original languages must be tasked to begin changing the paradigm of law making based on the written word.
I hope to see this in my lifetime.
The Whaler and the Girl in the Deadfall, Mahlon E Krebel
The Chinook Jargon We Never Knew (But will) David Robertson
“Hopi, Hopi What A Dance!” “Hopi, Hopi What A Rain!” was the headline of the day in the Washington Post and Star in 1926.
The U.S. Congress invited the Hopi people from Shungopavi, Mishongnovi and Sipaulovi to a reception in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Senators Hayden and Cameron of Arizona. The purpose of the visit was to petition Congress to “ask for the right to retain a Hopi religious ceremony, without interference from any source whatsoever”.
Prior to this visit to the U. S. Capitol, momentum had been growing by a Petition to Congress from various Christians to “prohibit the Hopi Snake Dance Ceremony of the Hopi claiming it was a dance of the savages”.
The Hopi group arrived in Washington and camped out one block near the Field Museum. Three men called on them. They were Christian preachers from near-by Virginia. “For three months they had been praying for rain from their pulpits”. It had been a dry year and “Virginia had not had a drop of rain”. The Hopi quietly listened to the Preachers’ sincere appeal. The Hopi were familiar with the conditions of drought in their homelands.
The Hopi delegation was “ushered into the Senate Chambers and made their petition to Washington leaders. Congress gave Hopi permission to carry on their Religious Ceremonials without interference from any source whatsoever, and it is so recorded in the 69th Congressional Record, page 9282”.
Congressional Record – Senate, May 13, 1926
“Mr. Cameron. Mr. President, I desire to announce for the benefit of my friends and colleagues who may be interested that on Saturday morning at 11 o’clock a band of selected Hopi Indians from the Arizona Reservation, who are en route to the sesquicentennial celebration in Philadelphia, will give an exhibition snake dance in front of the Capitol,”
“It is unnecessary to go into details, for most of the Senators are somewhat familiar to the history of this dance. The Hopi Indians are one of the primitive, yet one of the most wonderful, tribes of Indians on the American Continent. This well-known snake dance has been attended on the native reservation in Arizona by people from all over the world. It portrays a solemn religions ritual of the tribe itself, who seek by this demonstration before the Congress of the United State and the public to show its sincerity and religious character and thus allay what they deem the unfair effort on the part of some people to deprive them of the right to conduct this religious ceremony. This is in no way a commercial proposition, and I trust that all will be present.” 69th Congress, First Session, May 13, 1926, page 9283.
On this appointed day, the Hopi sponsor, M. W. Billingsley stood on a platform on the south steps of the U. S. Capitol and stated that the Hopi would pray for rain.
A “sea of faces gazed up into the empty sky, not a cloud in sight”. The Hopi performed the Snake Ceremony and shortly thereafter, there was a “deluge of rain, a downpour which filled the ditches of the streets, flooding the countryside”.
The Hopis were elated with the result of their prayers and power of the ceremony. This unbelievable story is told in a publication, “Behind the Scenes In Hopi Land” by M. W. Billingsley, 1971.
August 10, 1680 is a date of painful memories in the Pueblo World known as the “Pueblo Revolt”. The date is not a celebration or holiday. It cannot be erased.
“On June 13, 2000, Bishop Donald E. Pelotte, Bishop of the Diocese of Gallup, NM of the Catholic Church delivered an apology from the Pope to Hopi religious leaders and cultural advisors in the chambers of the Hopi Tribal Council in Kykotsmovi. The Pope’s apology sought forgiveness for the abuses Franciscan missionaries had inflicted on Hopi people during the mission period (1629-1680)—abuses documented in Moquis and Kastiilam: Hopis, Spaniards, and the Trauma of History, a collaborative project between The Hopi Tribe and the University of Arizona. Those abuses included the forced labor of Hopi men, the suppression of Hopi religion, and, worst of all, the rape of Hopi women.
Hopi religious leaders and cultural advisors sat silently as the bishop addressed them. There was awkward silence that fell upon the gathering when the bishop concluded his apology. Then one of the Hopi men stood up and addressed the bishop. “Apology not accepted. I don’t accept your apology,” he stated. Several men rose and expressed similar statements, adding that the historical trauma inflicted by the Spanish on the Hopi people during the mission period still haunted Hopi lives today. One by one, Hopi religious and political leaders added reasons why they could not accept the apology. Besides, if there was ever going to be a full reconciliation, then the Pope himself should deliver the apology. Hopi also stated that if the men of the Church were serious about correcting past wrongs, then it should look into Hopi treaty rights, specifically land and water rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which are now at the heart of the concerns facing the Hopi people. The bishop agreed to take their messages to the Pope and look into the request for help. The Hopi Tribe has not heard anything from the bishop or the Church since then.
Having witnessed this event, I asked myself, “What if the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was not successful? What if the Hopi people weren’t able to drive the Spaniards out of their villages and their homelands? What if the Hopi practiced Catholicism instead of the Hopi way of life?” By asking myself these questions, I slowly realized the significance of the Pueblo Revolt in the history of the Hopi people. Unlike other Pueblo people, we don’t have Catholic churches in our communities or Hispanic last names. We have been free to practice our religion and our customs since 1680. We were never re-conquered.
Another question that I asked myself is about the behavior of my own people. Have the Hopi people taken for granted what our ancestors fought and died for, the abuses they endured, the sacrifices they have made and losses they suffered? In my time with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, I have witnessed changes in the behaviors of the Hopi people, including my own. We act like we are entitled. We behave differently at our own Katsina ceremonies. We fight amongst ourselves instead of being unified as a people. Moreover, the most offensive part of all of this is that we put it on YouTube and other social media outlets for the world to see. We need to protect and safeguard what we have so that our way of life will endure in our hearts, mind, and spirit.
In 1629, the Spaniards transformed the Hopi way of life by inaugurating the Mission system in the three major Hopi villages of Awat’ovi, Songòopavi, and Orayvi. Everything about the mission system was an assault on the Hopi people. Hopi men were forced to carry beams to build mission churches from Nuvatukyaovi. Some missionaries sent husbands away to gather water from distant springs so they could rape their wives or take advantage of their daughters. No wonder the Hopi term for missionaries is Tota’tsim, a tyrant, dictator, or demanding person interested only in personal gain. The Hopis also viewed the Spaniards as Na’na’önt or Na’öna, lazy.
The key to survival is accomplished through hard work, yet both missionaries and encomenderos (those who held grants of encomiendas, the labor system) had the right to extract tribute—2.6 bushels of corn and one cotton manta each year—from Hopi households, even during drought years when Hopis barely produced enough food to feed themselves. They also had to work for up to three days a week tending to mission fields and mission herds of sheep and cattle. Do you know how much water is needed to successfully cultivate cotton? Hopis were punished severely if they failed to meet those demands.
As the drought worsened because Hopis could not perform their ceremonies, Hopi men would sneak away from the villages to rehearse songs, ceremonies, and religious practices so they would not be lost and for- gotten. And after one Hopi man from Orayvi named Sitkoyma sponsored a Niman ceremony in the Katsina Buttes, the missionary discovered his “idolatry,” whipped him in the plaza, and poured scalding turpentine on his wounds. After Sitkoyma’s brutal murder, Hopis began to discuss whether they needed to take stronger action. They met with other Pueblo people and finally decided that the only way to preserve the Hopi way of life was to kill the missionaries and other Spaniards.
Every Hopi person knows that it takes hard work to survive, incorporating the teachings of life and reciprocity we were given long ago. Survival requires a lifelong commitment that involves faith, prayer, humility and hard work. Our ancestors endured a lot for us to be where we are today, to carry on our way of life as we have been taught by them through the generations, and the right to be called Hopisinom.
Tomorrow when you wake, pray and greet the Sun, ask Taawa to deliver a message to our ancestors, a message of Askwalí/Kwak- whá to those who had the courage to stand up to the Tota’tsim, who fought for and protected our unique way of life for each of us as Hopisinom today. Let us not take our Hopi way of life for granted. Continue to live in faith, prayer, humility and hard work the best we can each day so that our children and future generations will learn and receive it just as we received it from our ancestors. Kwakwhá.”
By: Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa
Guest Editorial, Reprinted from Hopi Tutuveni, August 18,2021
“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.
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 injustices are 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. Learn more about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women today. NIWRC.org
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
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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