“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.