Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Visit With One of the Last Traditional-Sovereign Hopi Elder

[Author’s Note: During what seemed to be an unending dry spell with daily winds on Black Mesa, I finally had that longing opportunity to see my Hopi relatives and this being made possible by a friend who is also a writer herself. Driving toward the village of Hotevilla, I could noticed along the paved highway how there were less corn, squash and beans in the now wind-swept fields. Some fields were empty but the planted fields showed thirst and whatever life left in them continued to cling on to existence. But the village was alive with a few folks walking along the narrow sandy driveways and cars or pickup trucks parked randomly alongside. Grandfather Martin was not home because he has gotten older and so, he was in the care of his daughter. We woke him up from his sitting-position nap on a little bench which was right next to his makeshift bed. His eyes opened like a cat waking from its quiet nap and instantly, there is a big smile with a greeting, “Hi!” Earlier a younger Hopi lad informed us that Grandpa is very hard of hearing and that he cannot talk or tell stories like he used to. Just so we know, we might “get very little out him.” His English is understandable but mostly broken up, and we had no choice because no one volunteered to translate. I had done my best to convey his words. –byk]


There is no dignity in Hopi because of many things that changed the life:
I am not a Chief or a Kykmongi. Actually there are no more Chiefs among the Hopis because (they) are not honored or held in high regards as wise leaders. There are certain selected men who have been recognized as to have religious and village authority, but they are not perceived in that sense by the Hopis. Now, the federal and state governments are recognized as to have all the authorities and they even have authorities over the Hopi tribal government.

There are no more teachings among the Hopi families. Only a few families try to teach their children, but the children are not interested because there are many things out there that the children want to learn, like the TV. Some maybe learning about the dances but I am not sure about that either.

There are no more dances and yes, there are dances in the Villages but it is not the pure ways like in the past.

The importance of corn to the Hopi way is no longer practiced. No one wants to grow corn. Some but mostly older folks try to grow corn or have fields and they only grow a little bit. Me, I am too old to plant corn and take care of it.
I do not think Hopis have pride anymore. I mean pride in terms of being Hopi people. Maybe in some places people might try to show pride but they only show-it-off for a short time.


The dignity that I think Hopis should remember is about how we survived under these small trees and bushes right here on this site. Everyone only had small blankets to keep themselves warm, women and children. There was not enough water for everybody and they had to wait overnight for the jugs to get full. That amount of water was then used to drink and cook with so it was very hard for those that had to live here. Men got together to dig at the spring below here so that the water can form into a bigger pond.

The army tried to kill only the Chief but he never was killed. He told the people that is was better to just settle here, Hotevilla (Place of Upward Line of Junipers). So the village was established. Today we still have the sacred Stone Tablets from back then. We still wait for the fulfillment of the missing pieces to be returned. Then the prophecy can be interpreted and we, all of humanity, will know what to do when the “End” come.

Times of hope and pride:

In the old times, one would be chosen to be responsible for the preparations of seasonal rituals. I use to walk down to the extra pond down at the spring in the early mornings when there was very little light. I would then break the ice and make a hole big enough for myself to get inside. I take my clothes off and get into the pond and squat down with just my head sticking out. It was meditation. I would get out when there was a little more light. I would stand in the freezing cold air for just a little while as my body is completely covered with rising steam. After I dried myself and got dressed, I would start singing the Songs of the People and this, I would sing until I have completely walked around the entire village. Then men would gather at the Kiva.

I had to do this again one time when I had gotten older but life had changed in the village that, some people were saying that I was singing “evil” songs. So, I just decided to skip that part of singing around the village. I still dipped myself in the pond, however.
Future outlook:
I do not exactly know what is going to happen to Hopi. I just know what the prophecy say and now, we are all at a point where our roots do not reach into the earth. You see like the Mayan hieroglyphs? (Spread opens colored copies taped together.) It is the same as Hopi. See all the different signs or events that already took place (reading right to left) and you see how our roots are getting shorter? Hopi have tried to explain and tell the world for many years. We are now here and we have no roots or if we do have it, it is above the ground. On the Sacred Stone Tablets (unwraps three square pieces of incised ceramics), we are here, too, where this symbol matches the eye over the pyramid insignia on the one dollar bill. This, on the Stone Tablet, means we will be under its control as its eye has been watching us. (He informs that the squares are only replicas of the actual village tablets.) We are now bounded and without roots as the “Sargent of Arms,” right here, is ready to cut-off our heads. That will be the “End” and from then on, they will own our heads.

Then it will be up to the Star People, but they will have to also decide if it is better to “save us” or maybe not “save” us.

Question: ‘Grandfather Martin, who are the Star People?”

I do not know. I have never met one of them nor am I one of them. (Laughs.)
© Transcribed and slightly edited by Bahe Y. Katenay, 2011.

- - - - - - - - - - - * * * * * ^^^^ + ^^^^ * * * * * - - - - - - - - - - - - -

FROM: “Techqua Ikachi” ☼ – Guardians of Land and Life
(An old village publication by the Hotevilla Independent Hopi and editor, the late James Koots.)

Following are excerpts from messages by Hopi Elder Dan Katchongva, Sun Clan, (1865-1972).Grandfather Katchongva is widely and fondly remembered as one of the wisest traditional elders.He was the son of Yukioma, the leader of the Traditionals who were forced out of the village of Oraibi by the “Progressives” in 1906. As Kikmongi (traditional religious leader) of Hotevilla, Grandfather Katchongva was an important leader of the few remaining fully, traditional Hopi.

In 1970, Dan told the story of the People of Peace (Hopi), from the dawn of time to the attacks which led to the founding of Hotevilla in 1906, the school, money, and police systems which threaten to end the Hopi Way within this generation; and the consequences for America and the world. In addition to the prophecies fulfilled during his lifetime, Dan was told by his father that he would live to see the beginning of the final event of this era, the Great Day of Purification. Dan Katchongva died in 1972.


This was when Lololma’s successor, Tawaquaptewa, became chief of Oraibi. It was under his leadership that the sad event, the eviction of the faithful Hopi from Oraibi, was touched off. Since we ‘Hostiles,’ as we were called by the missionaries and Government workers, refused to follow his wishes and accept the White man’s way of life, he decided to evict us bodily. He figured that without our interference he would be able to take advantage of the good things offered by Bahanna (white man).

On September 7, 1906, his followers, commanded by Chief Tewaquaptewa himself, entered the house where we were discussing prophecies and threw us out. We did not resist until rifles and other weapons were shown and they began beating us. Then we resisted only to the extent of defending ourselves from injury. I was “killed,” and bleeding, my blood flowed into Mother Earth, a prophetic sign that the Purifier was coming in seven days and that we should move out of Oraibi. When I came back to life, all my people were gathered to go. My father, Yukioma, was selected to be the leader. The women and children, with a few belongings on their backs, a little food, and no shoes, were prepared to leave. Some tried to go back to their houses to get their valuables and some extra food, but they were turned back. (In ‘Book of the Hopi’ it is said we were allowed to go back and get some belongings, but this is not true. That book is not accurate.) After we had left we learned that our houses had been looted and that horses had been turned loose in our fields and had eaten our crops, which were just ready for harvest.

Thus we had to migrate once again to find a new home, leaving behind a corrupt world of confusion. We sought to start a new life, carry on our ceremonial cycles, and preserve our way of life without interference, but now we know that this was a dead dream, for the interference has continued right up to the present day.


The village of Hotevilla was settled for one purpose, to stand firmly on the Great Spirit’s instructions and fulfill the prophecies to the end. It was established by good people, one-hearted people who were actually living these instructions. Water was plentiful, and so was wood, from which we built temporary shelters in which we were to survive the cold winter with very few blankets. Food was scarce, but we managed to live from the land by hunting game and picking greens. We were united into oneness, but it would again be split into two due to extreme pressure from the outside.

Hardly had our footprints faded away in Oraibi, when early one morning we found ourselves surrounded by Government troops. All the people, including the children, were ordered to march six miles to a place below Oraibi. From there all the men were marched over forty miles to the U.S. Government agency at Keams Canyon, where they were imprisoned for about a year and one half for not accepting the generous offer of education for our children, among other things.

At the present time we face the danger that we might lose our land entirely. Through the influence of the
United States government, some people of Hopi ancestry have organized what they call the Hopi Tribal Council, patterned according to a plan devised by the government, for the purpose of negotiating directly with the government and with private businesses. They claim to act in the interests of the Hopi people, despite the fact that they ignore the existing traditional leaders, and represent only a small minority of the People of Hopi blood. Large areas of our land have been leased, and this group is now accepting compensation from the Indian Claims Commission for the use of 44,000,000 acres of Hopi land. We have protested all these moves, but to no avail.

Now this Tribal Council was formed illegally, even according to white man’s laws. We traditional leaders have disapproved and protested form the start. In spite of this they have been organized and recognized by the United States government for the purpose of disguising its wrong-doings to the outside world. We do not have representatives in this organization, nor are we legally subject to their regulations and programs. We Hopi are an independent sovereign nation, by the law of the Great Spirit, but the United States government does not want to recognize the aboriginal leaders of this land. Instead, he recognizes only what he himself has created out of today’s children in order to carry out his scheme to claim all of our land.

Because of this, we now face the great threat of all, the actual loss of our cornfields and gardens, our animals and wild game, and our natural water supply, which would put an end to the Hopi way of life. At the urging of the Department of the Interior of the United States, the Tribal Council has signed several leases with an outside private enterprise, the Peabody Coal Company, allowing them to explore our land for coal deposits, and to strip-mine the sacred mesas, selling the coal to several large power plants. This is part of a project intended to bring heavy industry into our area against our wishes. We know that this will pollute the fields and grazing lands and drive out the wildlife. Great quantities of water will be pumped from beneath our desert land and used to push coal through a pipe to a power plant in another state (Nevada). The loss of this water will affect our farms as well as the grazing areas of the animals. It also threatens our sacred spring&, our only natural source of water, which we have depended upon for centuries.

We Hopi knew all this would come about, because this is the Universal Plan. It was planned by the Great Spirit and the Creator that when the white man came he would offer us many things. If we were to accept those offers from his government, that would be the doom of the Hopi nation. Hopi is the bloodline of this continent, as others are the bloodline of other continents. So if Hopi is doomed, the whole world will be destroyed. This we know, because this same thing happened in the other world. So if we want to survive, we should go back to the way we lived in the beginning, the peaceful way, and accept everything the Creator has provided for us to follow. White man’s laws are many, but mine is one.

White man’s laws are all stacked up. So many people have made the rules, and many of them are made every day. But my law is only the Creator’s, just one. And no man-made law must I follow, because it is ever-changing, and will doom my people.

We know that when the time comes, the Hopi will be reduced to maybe one person, two person, and three persons. If he can withstand the pressure from the people who are against the tradition, the world might survive from destruction We are at the stage where I must stand alone, free from impure elements. I must continue to lead my people on the road the Great Spirit made for us to travel. I do not disregard anyone. All who are faithful and confident in the Great Spirit’s way are at liberty to follow the same road. We will meet many obstacles along the way. The peaceful way of life can be accomplished only by people with strong courage, and by the purification of all living things.
©1991 “Techqua Ikachi” ☼ – Guardians of Land and Life