The First Encounter

“For nearly 400 years, the stories of the Mayflower, the First Thanksgiving, Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims and countless images that supported those stories created an impression worldwide that the famous ship first landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts.” Not True.

“Mayflower arrived in Provincetown Harbor on November 11, 1620 after 67 days at sea, and was anchored here for thirty-five days. It was in Provincetown Harbor, before the Pilgrims set foot on land, where the Mayflower Compact was written and signed, and it was Provincetown Harbor that three discovery voyages aboard the shallop were taken to locations in Cape Cod and ultimately Plymouth.” Cape Code National Seashore, National Park

Like Cristobal Columbus, these foreigners were lost. They were hungry, desperate, and without hope of finding land when they chanced upon the land of the Wampanoag.

So the real story of the Pilgrims started with lies, half-truths and theft that is not told in the textbooks today.

Cape Cod National Seashore Exhibit

Truth. With this very first step on the North American soil, the Pilgrims stole food from the Wampanoag that was stored for the winter months. “There was a heap of sand, newly done, we might see how they had paddled it with their hands – which we digged up, and in it we found a little old basket full of fair Indian corn, and digged further and found a fine great new basket full of very fair corn of the year, with some thirty-six goodly ears of corn, some yellow, and some red, and other mixed with blue, which was a goodly sight.” _ Mourt’s Relation A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, 1622.

This stored corn was intended to support Wampanoag families through the winter months. Were they able to survive without this stored corn?

The First Theft

The Wampanoag knew that strangers had landed on their shores and watched, waited without being seen. The unsealing of stored corn was not acceptable so the warriors attempted to protect their food. “One of our company, being abroad, came running in and cried, ‘They are men! Indians! Indians! And withal, their arrows came flying amongst us… and called this place, The First Encounter.” 

Wampanoag defend their food stores

The Pilgrims whitewashed this story by explaining away the theft, “When they returned the Pilgrims took as much corn as they could carry back to the Mayflower to use the next spring as seed. Unsure what to do, they recorded that if they could find the people who buried the corn, they would “parley with them, …and satisfy them for their corn.”

So began the true history of the theft of more than corn. The theft of Wampanoag lands, culture and history followed soon after. No amends for this wrong has ever been recorded for the Wampanoag. Today, thousands of travelers are risking their lives in this pandemic based on the false narrative of Thanksgiving.

Truth. For a full history of this first encounter, I recommend reading, This Land is Their Land, by David J. Silverman. The Truth is uncomfortable but necessary.

Saving a Hopi Spring

A broken water jug?
Preserved elements of prehistoric stonework

Awatovi pottery decorated with black, red and yellow designs lined the top of the rock slab below the spring. Hopi maidens waited their turn to fill their family water pot in the cool shade of the willows nearby.

Drip, drip, drip. The cold, sparkling water slowly filled the cistern as water was withdrawn gallon by gallon. Another dry, thirsty day began in the old Hopi village of Awatovi.

This old spring has been providing water for over 420 years to humans, animals, birds and plants. Today, it remains a special place. We visited the spring with a family from Sichomovi Village who is trying desperately to preserve the spring, the old terrace gardens, natural wetland plants and pre-contact history. The time span of this place started from the settlement of Awatovi in the 1500’s to present year, 2020. It is amazing that it exists and it needs our help.

Terraced garden view from below mesa

The spring is located in a deep canyon on the Hopi Reservation. Driving on dirt roads requires a 4×4 vehicle as there are road washouts to cross. It is very difficult to bring materials and supplies to this location. Below the spring there are many dried out fruit trees, historic family homes, as well as the leaving behinds of the long gone Awatovi people. 

Below the springs you can see the rock walls of long ago terrace gardens, cisterns, water catchments, rock trails and pottery. Historic additions include fruit trees, fencing, water pipes, cement cistern and a nice cool patio for resting and eating.

Prehistoric terraces destroyed by cows

Without human care, the area below the spring becomes a wetland of native plants like willow and invasive trees of walnut and tamarisk. Keeping a plant root and wet sand in check is hard, physical work.

Finding the source of the sacred spring

Dorothy is a descendent of several generations who have taken care of this spring. Her intent on the day of our visit is to set her garlic bulbs for the fall planting. She contributes her terrace garden vegetables to the local food cooperative. Food security is very important to her. The spring fed gardens can provide a sustainable food source so long as time and effort is put into keep this place alive.

Setting garlic bulbs and harvesting wild onions
Job Almost Finished!

Dorothy has put effort into preserving a small portion of the old terraced gardens. Water is piped from the upper cistern into the terrace plots, a water hose delivers water as needed. The summer plants of corn have been harvested. We smell lemon cress, basil, wild onions, and flower plants for the bees and butterflies. 

Upper water cistern

The challenges for Dorothy are deer, squirrels, cows, rabbits and a mountain lion has been sighted on a nearby mesa. She cannot keep new fruit trees from being eaten by the deer without adequate fencing. 

The needs for this small scale farming of natural local foods are: fencing, mulch, fertilizer, trail work, rebuilding terrace walls, pipe repair, invasive plant removal and a new outhouse/wash station.

Dorothy welcomes a visitor who is willing to work for a meal of natural food from her garden. She will tell you the story of the place under the cool shade of the arbor.

Little Helper lends a hand

After a few hours of physical labor, you can rest under the walnut trees and meditate, enjoy the serenity of place and imagine or maybe hear the people of the past, laughing, talking and going up and down the trails to the gardens below. 

Terrace gardens view from the mesa top
Shady resting place

You can help. A small donation will help to keep this place alive for 100 more years. 


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Donations are via Stripe only or mail check to Paaqavi Inc., P.O. Box 1048, Hotevilla, AZ 86030. All donations are tax deductable. Usqwali.

A Hopi Kernel of Truth

Orayvi Warrior, by B.Stewart

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.

Historic Orayvi Village, Third Mesa

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.

Imagining an Indian Child, Artist unknown

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 Burro

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.

The pack train Burro

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.

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

A Promise Kept…

A Sacred Landscape

“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.

A Hopi Village

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.

Hopi Clan Identity Markings

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?

The Sentinels


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.

T-Door Portal to Life

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.

The Land. 

Our Earth Mother. 

SHE is under Our Watch now. 

You are Her Caretaker. 


A Knotted Yucca Cord

Pre-Historic Symbol of a Corded Rope

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.

Pre-Historic Yucca Cord made by the Basketmaker People

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.

Shield Bearer, Symbol of Protection

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.

Ancestral Lunar Sentinels

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.

MFredericks, Webmaster

A Rebirth of Hopi Voices


Mother Corn

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