(being continued from 11/06/15)
In earlier times Hopi men wore fur or buckskin loincloths. Some loincloths were painted and decorated with tassels, which symbolized falling rain. The men also raised cotton and wove it into cloth, robes, blankets, and textiles. These hand-woven cotton blankets were also worn regularly. The Hopis were reported in 1861 as being wrapped in blankets with broad white and dark stripes. At that time, women also commonly wore a loose black gown with a gold stripe around the waist and at the hem. Men wore shirts and loose cotton pants, covered with a blanket wrap. During the ritual ceremonies and dances, Hopi men wear elaborate costumes that include special headdresses, masks, and body paints. These costumes vary according to clan and ceremony.
Women had long hair, but marriageable girls wore their hair twisted up into large whorls on either side of their heads. These whorls represented the squash blossom, which was a symbol of fertility. This hairstyle is still worn by unmarried Hopi girls but due to the amount of time required to create it, the style is reserved for ceremonial occasions. The hairstyle for married women was either loose or in braids. The traditional hairstyle for Hopi men, after which kiva design was sometimes patterned, was worn with straight bangs over the forehead and a knot of hair in the back with the sides hanging straight and covering the ears. This style of bangs is still seen among traditional Hopi men.
Hopi women and girls today wear a traditional dress, which is black and embroidered with bright red and green trim. A bride, as in early days, wears a white robe woven of white cotton by her uncles. This bridal costume actually consists of two white robes. The bride wears a large robe with tassels that symbolize falling rain. A second, smaller robe, also with tassels, is carried rolled up in a reed scroll called a “suitcase” in English. When the woman dies, she will be wrapped in the suitcase robe.
DANCES AND SONGS
Benedek wrote that “in spirit and in ceremony, the Hopis maintain a connection with the center of the earth, for they believe that they are the earth’s caretakers, and with the successful performance of their ceremonial cycle, the world will remain in balance, the gods will be appeased, and rain will come.” Central to the ceremonies are the kiva, thepaho,and the Corn Mother. The kiva is the underground ceremonial chamber. Rectangular in shape (the very ancient kivas were circular), the kiva is a symbol of the Emergence to this world, with a small hole in the floor leading to the underworld and a ladder extending above the roof opening, which represents the way to the upper world. Kivas are found in various numbers in Hopi villages, always on an east–west axis, sunk into the central plaza of a village. Following the secret ceremonies held inside the kiva, ceremonial dances are performed in the plaza. Thepaho,a prayer feather, usually that of an eagle, is used to send prayers to the Creator.Pahosare prepared for all kiva ceremonies. Corn has sustained the Hopis for centuries, and it plays a large role in Hopi ceremonies, such as in the sprinkling of cornmeal to welcome the kachinas to the Corn Mother. Waters described the Corn Mother as “a perfect ear of corn whose tip ends in four full kernels.” It is saved for rituals.
The kachinas are spirits with the power to pass on prayers for rain and are mostly benevolent. Humans dressed and masked as these spirits perform the kachina dances, which are tied to the growing season, beginning in March and lasting into July. Kachina dolls, representing these gods, are carved and sold as crafts today, although they were originally toys for Hopi children. One of the most important ceremonials is held at the winter solstice. This ceremony, Soyal, as the first ceremony of the year and the first kachina dance, represents the second phase of Creation. The Niman ceremony, or the Home Dance, is held at the Summer Solstice, in late July. At that point the last of the crops have been planted and the first corn has been harvested. The Home Dance is the last kachina dance of the year. Although other ceremonial dances are also religious, they are less so than the kachina rituals. These other dances include the Buffalo Dance, held in January to commemorate the days when the buffalo were plentiful and Hopi men went out to the eastern plains to hun them; the Bean Dance, held in February to petition the kachinas for the next planting; and the Navajo Dance, celebrating the Navajo tribe. While the well-known Snake Dance is preceded by eight days of secret preparation, the dance itself is relatively short, lasting only about an hour. During this rite the priests handle and even put in their mouths unresistant snakes gathered from the desert. Non-Hopi experts have tried to discover how the priests can handle snakes without being bitten, but the secret has not been revealed. At the conclusion of the dance the snakes are released back into the desert, bearing messages for rain. The Snake and Flute Dances are held alternately every other year. The Flute Dance glorifies the spirits of those who have passed away during the preceding two years. In addition, the Basket Dance and other women’s dances are held near the end of the year. The Hopi ceremonial cycle continues all year. The ritual ceremonies are conducted within the kivas in secrecy. The plaza dances that follow are rhythmic, mystical, and full of pageantry. Outsiders are sometimes allowed to watch the dances.
Traditional ceremonies are performed as instructed in sacred stories and relate to most aspects of daily Hopi life. Such occasions include important times in an individual’s life, important times of the year, healing, spiritual renewal, bringing rain, initiation of people into positions, and for thanksgiving. Hopi ceremonies included the Flute ceremony, New Fire ceremony, Niman Kachina ceremony, Pachavu ceremony, Powamu ceremony, Snake-Antelope ceremony, Soyal, and Wuwuchim ceremony.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Page and Page stated that much of Hopi healing is psychic but that the Hopis also utilize many herbal remedies. The Hopis are quite knowledgeable about the various medicinal properties of certain plants and herbs. Ritual curing, however, is done by several societies, including the kachina society. Parsons wrote, “The Kachina cult is generally conceived as a rain-making, crop-bringing cult; but it has also curing or health-bringing functions.” She added that “On First Mesa kachina dances (including the Horned water serpent and the Buffalo Dance) may be planned for afflicted persons.” In addition to holding dances expressly for sick people, for some illnesses the cure is administered by a specific society. For example, snakebite is treated by the Snake society on First Mesa, according to Parsons, and rheumatism is treated by the Powamu society, which then inducts the afflicted into the society. Other cures are less logical to an outsider. “On First Mesa,” Parsons wrote, “lightning-shocked persons and persons whose fields have been lightning-struck join the Flute society. A lightning-shocked man is called in to cure earache in babies.” Other rituals include the practice of “sucking out” the disease, usually when dealing with sick infants and children. Cornmeal is actually held in the mouth during this procedure, and then the curer “spits away” the disease. The Hopis also utilize modern medical science, doctors, and hospitals. A government hospital was established in 1913. Now, the Office of Native Healing Services is located in nearby Window Rock, Arizona. In the late 1990s a new health care center was planned for First Mesa.
The Hopis speak several dialects of a single language, Hopi, with the exception of the village of Hano, where the members speak Tewa, which is derived from the Azteco-Tanoan linguistic family. Waters noted in 1963 that “Hopi is not yet a commonly written language, perhaps because of the extreme difficulty in translation, as pointed out by Benjamin Lee Whorf, who has made a profound analysis of the language.” Despite being unwritten and untranslated, the strong Hopi oral tradition has preserved and passed down the language. Most Hopis today, including the younger generations, speak both Hopi and English. Both Arizona state universities began developing a Hopi writing system with a dictionary containing over 30,000 words.
COMMON WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
Some Hopi words and phrases include:tiva—dance;tuwaki—shrine in the kiva;kahopi—not Hopi;kachada—white man;Hotomkam—Three Stars in Line (Orion’s Belt);kachinki—kachina house;Hakomi?—Who are you?; and,Haliksa’I—Listen, this is how it is.
Family and Community Dynamics
Hopi children gain their education through available formal school systems and through traditional educational activities in such places as kivas. Education is provided through local public schools, federal government schools, local village schools, private schools, and kivas. Between 1894 and 1912, schools were established near Hopi villages. But until the late twentieth century, children had to leave home to attend government-sponsored or private off-reservation boarding high schools. In 1985, new Hopi middle and high schools were opened for all tribal students. The on-reservation schools have facilitated traditional education by having students live at home, attending year-round village rituals and ceremonies. The traditional education begins in earnest around age of eight, with a series of initiation rites. The young are taught the Hopi Way, composed of traditional principles and ethics and the value of kinship systems.
THE ROLE OF WOMEN
The social organization of traditional Hopi society is based on kinship clans determined through the woman’s side of the family. The clans determine various kinds of social relations of individuals throughout their lives, including possible marriage partners and their place of residence. Women own the farming and garden plots, though men are responsible for the farming as well as the grazing of sheep and livestock. Women are also centrally involved in Hopi arts and crafts. By tradition the women’s products are specialized and determined by their residence. Women make ceramics on First Mesa, coiled basketry on Second Mesa, and wicker basketry on Third Mesa. Hopi men do the weaving.
COURTSHIP AND WEDDINGS
Many marriage customs are still observed, but others have fallen into disuse. Fifty years ago, for example, courtship was an elaborate procedure involving a rabbit hunt, corn grinding, and family approval of the marriage. The bride was married in traditional white robes woven for the occasion by her uncles. The couple lived with the bride’s mother for the first year. Today the courtship is much less formal. The couple often marry in a church or town and then return to the reservation. Since not all men know how to weave anymore, Page and Page pointed out that it may take years for the uncles to produce the traditional robes. They also described several marriage customs still in practice, however. These include a four-day stay by the bride with her intended in-laws. During this time she grinds corn all day and prepares all the family’s meals to demonstrate her culinary competence. Prior to the wedding, the aunts of both the bride and groom engage in a sort of good-natured free-for-all that involves throwing mud and trading insults, each side suggesting the other’s relative is no good. The groom’s parents wash the couple’s hair with a shampoo of yucca in a ritual that occurs in other ceremonies as well. A huge feast follows at the bride’s mother’s house. Once married, the bride wears her hair loose or in braids.
Clan membership plays a role in partner selection. The rule against marrying another member of the same clan has prevented interbreeding, keeping genetic lines strong. Although marriage into an associated clan was forbidden as well, Page and Page suggest that this tradition is breaking down. Marriage to non–tribal members is extremely rare, a fact that has helped preserve Hopi culture. The clan system is matrilineal, meaning that clan membership is passed down through the mother. One cannot be Hopi without a clan of birth, so if the mother is not Hopi, neither will her children be. Adoption into the tribe is also extremely rare.
Old age among the Hopis is considered desirable, because it indicates that the journey of life is almost complete. The Hopis have a strong respect for the rituals of death, however, and it is customary to bury the dead as quickly as possible because the religion holds that the soul’s journey to the land of the dead begins on the fourth day after death. Any delay in burial can thus interfere with the soul’s ability to reach the underworld. The ritual called for the hair of the deceased to be washed with the yucca shampoo by a paternal aunt. Leitch added that the hair was then decorated with prayer feathers and the face covered with a mask of raw cotton, symbolizing clouds. The body was then wrapped—a man in a deerskin robe, a woman in her wedding robe—and buried by the oldest son, preferably on the day or night of death. Leitch wrote that “the body was buried in a sitting position along with food and water. Cornmeal and prayersticks were later placed in the grave.” A stick is inserted into the soil of a grave as an exit for the soul. If rain follows, it signifies the soul’s successful journey.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER TRIBES
The Hopis have maintained historical relations with the Zuñi as well as the Hano and Tewa groups in the Rio Grande River valley to the east. During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Pueblo groups united to drive Spanish influence out of the region. Moreover, extensive trading networks existed among the groups prior to the revolt. The complex land issues with the Navajo have led to complex relations. The Hopi elective government have fought for defense of their original reservation, while traditionalists support the Navajo families’ efforts to remain on the disputed lands.
Page and Page explained the special rituals observed when naming a new baby. A newborn is kept from direct view of the sun for its first 19 days. A few days prior to the naming, the traditional Hopi stew is prepared at the home of the maternal grandmother, who figures prominently in the custom. The baby belongs to her of his mother’s clan but is named for the father’s. In the naming ritual, the grandmother kneels and washes the mother’s hair, then bathes the baby. The baby is wrapped snugly in a blanket, with only its head visible. With the baby’s Corn Mother, the grandmother rubs a mixture of water and cornmeal on the baby’s hair, applying it four times. Each of the baby’s paternal aunts then repeats this application, and each gives a gift and suggests a name. The grandmother chooses one of these names and then introduces the baby to the sun god just as the sun comes up. A feast follows.
The Hopi religion is a complex, highly developed belief system incorporating many gods and spirits, such as Earth Mother, Sky Father, the Sun, the Moon, and the many kachinas, or invisible spirits of life. Waters described this religion as “a mytho-religious system of year-long ceremonies, rituals, dances, songs, recitations, and prayers as complex, abstract, and esoteric as any in the world.” The Hopi identity centers on this belief system. Waters explained their devotion, writing, “The Hopis . . . have never faltered in the belief that their secular pattern of existence must be predicated upon the religious, the universal plan of Creation. They are still faithful to their own premise.” The Pages stated in 1982 that 95 percent of the Hopi people continue to adhere to these beliefs.
According to oral tradition, the Hopis originated in the First of four worlds, not as people but as fractious, insect-like creatures. Displeased with these creatures’ grasp of the meaning of life, the Creator, the Sun spirit Tawa, sent Spider Woman, another spirit, to guide them on an evolutionary migration. By the time they reached the Third
“She knew it was the duty of the youngest member of a Hopi family to feed the family gods and she was the youngest present, but she was in a hurry to be off and would have neglected the duty had not her grandmother reminded her.”
Polingaysi Qoyawayma, No Turning Back: A True Account of a Hopi Girl’s Struggle,(University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1964).
World, they had become people. They reached the Fourth, or Upper, World by climbing up from the underworld through a hollow reed. Upon reaching this world, they were given four stone tablets by Masaw, the world’s guardian spirit. Masaw described the migrations they were to take to the ends of the land in each of the four directions and how they would identify the place where they were intended to finally settle. And so the migrations began, some of the clans starting out in each direction. Their routes would eventually form a cross, the center of which was the Center of the Universe, their intended permanent home. This story of the Hopi Creation holds that their completed journeys finally led them to the plateau that lies between the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers, in the Four Corners region. As Waters explained, “the Hopi . . . know that they were led here so that they would have to depend upon the scanty rainfall which they must evoke with their power and prayer,” preserving their faith in the Creator who brought them to this place. The Hopis are thus connected to their land with its agricultural cycles and the constant quest for rainfall in a deeply religious way.
Employment and Economic Traditions
For more than 3,000 years the Hopis have been farmers in an arid desert climate, dry farming in washes as well as constructing irrigated terraces on the mesas, and supplementing their subsistence economy with small game hunting. Farm and garden plots have traditionally belonged to the women of each clan.
The federal government attempted to subdivide the Hopi reservation in 1910, assigning small parcels to individual Hopi. But the effort failed, and the reservation remained intact. Congress passed the Navajo-Hopi Long Range Rehabilitation Act in 1951, allocating approximately $90 million to improve reservation roads, schools, utilities, and health facilities. In 1966 the Hopi tribal council signed a lease with Peabody Coal Company to strip mine a 25,000 acre area in the Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area. Traditionalists attempted to block the mining through the federal courts but failed; the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1998, the Hopis won a $6 million judgment that ordered the Navajo to share with the Hopi taxes collected from the Peabody coal mining operation in the Joint Use Area. That same year the Hopis signed an agreement with the federal government for almost $3 million of water and wastewater construction for the villages of First Mesa.
By the 1970s, farming income was declining and wage labor was gaining importance in the Hopi economy. An undergarment factory was established in Winslow, Arizona, in partnership with the Hopis in 1971 but failed in only a few years. By the late twentieth century, the Hopis had a diverse economy of small-scale farming and livestock grazing, various small businesses, mineral development royalty payments, government subsidies for community improvements, and wage-labor incomes. Many traditional Hopi objects were transformed from utilitarian and sacred items to works of art. Commercial art includes the making of kachina dolls, silver jewelry, woven baskets, and pottery. Cooperative marketing organizations and various enterprises for Hopi craftspeople, including Hopicrafts and Artist Hopid, are available on-reservation and off. In addition to arts and crafts shops, small businesses on-reservation include two motels, a museum, and several dining facilities and gas stations.
Politics and Government
The Hopis have always been organized according to a matrilineal clan system, which in the late 1990s
This Hopi dancer is performing at El Tovar, Grand Canyon.
was made up of some 30 clans. An elected Tribal Council has existed since 1934 to interact with the federal government, but its function is representative; it does not govern the tribe. The individual villages are each governed independently by akikmongwi,or village chief. Susanne and Jake Page, in their book,Hopi,described this system as “a loose confederation of politically independent villages, rather like the city-states of ancient Greece, knit together by basically similar views of their history, [and] by similar religious beliefs and ceremonial practices.” They noted also that the clan system is “one of the main forms of social glue that has historically held the separate Hopi villages together.” Clan membership provides the singular Hopi identity.
The Hopis, protecting their sovereignty, never signed a treaty with the U.S. government. The Hopi Tribal Council and government was established in 1935 with a written constitution but disbanded in 1943. The government was reestablished in 1950, and the nation received federal recognition again in 1955, making available a range of social services and funding opportunities. With coal, natural gas, oil and uranium minerals resources, the Hopis are members of the Council of Energy Resource Tribes. Founded in 1975, the council speaks with a unified Native American voice to the federal government on mineral exploration and development policies and provides technical information to the member tribes.
(TO BE CONTINUED)
by Ellen French and Richard C. Hanes