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.