A lone ponderosa pine took root in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico in 1664. This tree lived to be 307 years old, 1664-1971. A slice of this tree can be seen as an exhibit at the newly opened Verde Valley Archaeology Center in Camp Verde, Arizona. This ponderosa tree stood sentinel over the Pueblo World and marked in tree time, a world forever changing.
Dendrochronology has been very useful in radiocarbon dating wood found in ancestral places throughout the Southwest and plotting of major natural events. It is now known that the wood beams found at Chaco Canyon came from the Jemez Mountains. Trees evolved around 380 million years ago and are described as the lungs of the world, breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen on which life depends.
As I viewed this slice of wood I pondered the circumstance of Hopi life at the birth of this tree in 1664. In 1664, the Hopi people were firmly under the yoke of Spanish dictatorship. However, this period of difficult times was soon to change when 20 years later in 1680, the Pueblo Revolt took place and Spanish rule ended in the Hopi World.
As I moved down the concentric circles of tree time by counting the rings, in the late 1700s, the Hopi villages started seeing a stranger nearby. This foreigner was dressed in animal skins and carried a bow and arrow. He spoke a different language. More and more came, especially at Harvest Time to raid and pillage. These were the Athabascans from the North.
By the concentric circle dated 1800, the Hopi World had been visited and colonized by the Anglo races as trappers, missionaries, refugees of religious persecution, traders, military garrisons and finally the ubiquitous Federal Agent representing the U. S. Government.
By the concentric circle dated 1900, the Hopi became known worldwide for the exotic Hopi Snake Ceremony that drew tourists, artists, photographers and the nosy anthropologists. By 1971, the last illustrated concentric circle, the Hopi Tribe was a federally recognized government consolidating most of the remaining 12 Hopi Villages. We are still Here.
If you see a lone ponderosa tree on the Jemez Mountains, think hard about the 307 year tree time of your culture and your peoples. It is a mind-bending exercise as a good museum exhibit intends. Visit the Verde Valley Archaeology Center and see the exhibit on meteorites!
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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