Hopi Teachings and Prophecy
Interview with Hopi Elders Thomas Banyaca
and Ralph Selina
And several Hopi elders, we wear shoes all the time and wear clothes too much that we don't get no wind no sunshine on our bodies directly. So these are some of the things that causing us to get weaker and weaker. We eat too many foods that is like canned stuff that is not much food value in it. So here they have many a food that they grow a bean culture like beans and corn and meat that's a main diet for the Hopi. So we withstand much as they say in these days and they have hardly any sickness maybe a cold, common cold now and then but not this where a person used to getting up or get in cold showers and run and get into cold weather, he--they don't have no sickness. These are some of the things, like Ralph knew they are talking about, how a each part of our life depend on the elements in the earth, you know the forces of nature, when we observe a certain period of time when we have our ceremonies. It's all dealing with nature so that is part of the life that they continue to work so that it would be a like in legends. You mentioned clouds. They are watching us just like man, human beings; also they like rain and everything, they just take care of everything. They are very much like a people they like to pray, they smoke their pipes and they want rain.
They smoke and then they come back, they come back. Rain Gods are people in the world that come as a cloud and then bring rain. These are some of the teachings. So they constantly work in their ceremonies for things like that. The songs, most all the songs are for rain, for good health, and for good crops, and good fields, and happiness, and long life, so they always laugh about the white mans' songs all talking about love and getting heart break and how they get hooked. And all that, that's part of it, it's all right but mainly it's more to the rain and natural things first and after that there'll be happiness. That's when people root on together--one family--most all the songs are along this line appealing to God, rain Gods so a that's quite a lot, quite a lot. I think that's never been brought out in how people understand the real Hopi life.
Kurt: Do you think it would be possible, if The Indian Affairs was to leave you completely alone, the Hopi people could revert back to it's old life?
There should be a time that that should happen, because sooner or later that's like your people and other people will come and somebody or somewhere some group will really bring us out in a way that even The Indian Bureau offical or even Washington offical can recognize that there is something here that we musn't disturb, that be upheld. And then because of that their work here is to hold this land in common and in all the riches all towards upholding this land for all good people, common people ya know so that all people will share equally in this world. When this is done in a way that could be brought to the large number of people, when we recognize this, why then that's when they suppose to either let us go or set about to really protect this area the way they should, that's the way they should be. Is like they said from the beginning, there is suppose to be guardians and protectors of this areas that was already ours... and Spain came and we were already living here. This village was already standing when Columbus came over and then when Spain came they recognized this area as belongs to us. This is our area. The Mexican government took over and they also recognized us just like the Mexican. Then Spain did, and then in 1848 when they treatied between Mexico and they transferred the whole thing over to the United States. The U.S. also made an agreement with the Mexican government that whatever that was turned over to them it was to be handled just like it was still under Mexican government. But, then somewhere this government, the U.S. started to make some rules and regulations and so disregarded the 1848 treaty...for a understanding between government and Mexico. Now there's a Guadalupe Hildago treaty, it covers a lot of territory in most all the western area states to date, so a that's one thing we would like to also dig into to find more of what's really is main issues or main provisions in Guadalupe Hildago treaty.
Kurt: Isn't there a tradition that the Hopi's signed the Guadalupe Hildago treaty with the U.S. and Mexico that there was a delegation there who had a conference about the treaty (that some mention that) at Santa Fe?
Huh? That was like either during 1848 or either before the actual signing between government of the United States and Mexico. And that is why I wanted to dig into that because I've heard that someplaces before, but I haven't run across any document of anything about that so I've been wanting to get everything that has connection with the 1848 treaty.
Kurt: In essence though that treaty recognizes the Hopi Nation as an independent sovereign nation.
And the Hopi's always refer to those papers, that some of the old people should know that that was already established, so it's no matter how many stacked up other documents been piled up in White House. They say sometimes as we dig into these things somebody's going to pull out the right one that may be buried way under. When that comes up there's no way to get out of this, the Hopi Nation sovereign nation. So once that's recognized, see, this is what the Hopi know and so we would not accept anymore any kind of an agreement or any program that the Bureau is trying to put over on us, especially, this old,old people. So these are some of the things we just might look into and find out, what this is really all about I would like to get a hold them actual signings of those treaties. They may be in the Mexican government records.
Kurt: We were talking last night about this relationship between land and preservation, care of the land and the Hopi prophecies; about what's going to happen if this land isn't going to be cared for, what's going to happen anyway? Could you go over that a little bit?
Should the Great Spirit--he's the owner of this land--and when like they say, when we came to him he gave us instructions how to take care of it for him. This land belongs to this Great Spirit. It doesn't belong to us or it doesn't belong to anybody, it belongs to the Great Spirit. Ourselves and then grandmother, the Spiderwoman, and grandsons, the only ones who are really caretakers of this land for Him. So when the man came, why, then these leaders where given that authority over land. So the Bear Clan Leader was given the authority over all this land and life, just like the Great Spirit Himself would be taking care of, but He Himself, of course man finally came to Him: Now I place this in your hands you be the authority and power over this land and to keep this land and life as I am... as long as you follow the instructions and so that nowhere you must cut up your land, no place you must give up your land or in anyway dispose of your land. Just take care of it just the way I place it in your hand and you will have longer life and meet your people longer in life. Follow the instructions and the path that I've shown, you will follow that. And a some places they might be some others might fall off you know, and turn to other things, so that some others might come along and cause them to fall for something else. Like a lot of our religious young leaders who are able to take hold of it now but because of the influence of liquor they began to neglect some of these. Being disturbed they're not fulfilling their obligations or going through their ceremony like they should so that even though they perform their ceremonies it doesn't do much good. So they are some of the things that disturb that because this religious ceremonial thing, the religious activities which is the power for which we keep this land so no matter what other program comes in here: O.A.O. Program, Bureau program, Industrial program or Neal Harden promo.
All that comes in here their intention always is to take hold of this land or disturb this land, or educate programs to take the children away and just train them some place else to make them go away. See these are the things that keep tearing me down and the old people, they're concerned; they know this, that it's going to disturb this land, it's going to tear down this way of holding this land and life for all peoples. And eventually it's going to break down, see just like they are disturbing all nature now around us, they are really digging into mother earth for everything and they're creating something out of it and polluting the air and water and everything and disturbing things up above now. And all these things, eventually, it's going to destroy us. So that is why if this knowledge of these things are put out and explained in a way that people will realize that if we don't stop this thing its going to destroy us. Like total destruction cause they say all around us it will take place, and this will be the last place because this is the center, the spiritual center upon which they hold this land. This is the last place to be destroyed--then this whole land will go down that's like Jack always said or these people always said, this land will turn over four times and put us way back where we started from in darkness way down in. So, that would be the punishment. So this is the dangerous part for failure to adhere to the instructions. Then the prophecy, of course, is merely knowing things that will happen, that if we warn you now you start doing this, this is what will happen and if your going towards that, the signs will be shown. Or things will be happening. Destroy too much of forest area then there is the denuding of that land and there will be erosion started.
There will be other things happening and all these things, there will be a warning to it and then if we start to destroy a lot of us, our religious set up, then we can't check the wind like we used to for rain. There be flash flood and there be erosion started and many other things happening. Before when it rained there was a slow drizzle all night maybe two or three days, just soak the ground real good. Springtime we have flowers you can hardly see the ground all over this field at one time; it was just beautiful flowers of all kinds, birds and wild animals out there, real good fertile valleys out here and there's no washes out there. All around, when the water runs off in springtime, you sees waters all over it covers this whole valleys and that's the way it was during that period that's the way the Great Spirit told him to take care of it. Once its been disturbed and people neglect it then things will start happening. That's going to lead toward destruction so that if we don't check this now, well it's going to happen. Anyway, that is why we have a chance to stop it; if we learn or understand this we have a chance to stop it. And in order that Great Spirit know that I, we can't, if we can't stop it even though we know and understand, we don't know how to stop this, that's why He has appointed three purifiers to have to do that with arrow power and might, with understanding that they have at that time, as to how they are going to purify this land.
Kurt: One of the most immediate points of reference for us is in that phrase 'Hopi's who hold the land for all men' because that's the way that our brothers have to understand and respect what your doing and what these values are here; that's not only then for other Indians but, for all people in the earth because this land is central. And so this is a sacred act that you are performing for all of humanity.
Not only man but, to all living things... all plant, animal, everything. He's holding in his hand elder leaders, the Hopi leaders, that their work through their prayers, through their ceremonies, through their chants--everything is directed toward keeping life going. And If we go into deeper things we won't be able to explain because of a very sacred society still knows the knowledge unless you're initiated but, you go into deeper things there. You could almost see the machinery of the religious part of everything; you'd be just like looking into a machine; how in order to keep the wind and rain and other things in check and in balance. it would be like that now if only these people who know will have to, ya know, bring about a rain or check something. So they said the more people who understand this thing dig into this, it would be a time to reveal some part of it so that way it would gradually expose to the outside world so that they begin to recognize what your saying now, which is the point that we're stressing. That this is the spiritual center that these leaders are holding this land not for all people Hopi not only for people, not only for Indian tribe but, all other people who came to us and every living thing on this earth so that if we recognize that and help to support these leaders like Black Bear of Bear Clan. He has full authority here in this way; he has no weapon of any kind he has no way of demanding things.. He's merely holding on to it the way he were told. With helpers around him they perform the ceremony and that's the only thing they can do to hold it, see. But, if that is disturbed, why then we are on our way down to some kind of trouble.
Kurt: What are the chances?
Well, there, ya know, as far as like I say, even when man is holding on to it then as long as we bring this out to other tribes and other people somebody somewhere will understand and someone will come and help support it. And with that person's help and to the one who that stands to the last--even though how hard it will be--like the Indian Bureau putting all pressure on them and threatening them and all that, even that person with a strong heart and courage still standing, and someone comes out and uplift him so those people, many of the good people will be saved.
By that time, the purifier will come and He will see that these people are protected from there on. And those that are saved like many of us, like if Ralph was the one who stood last, then you people come and help and because of that help this has put a stop to totally destroying the world. And everything and whoever is saved after the purification, there many good people who will be saved and go into a new phase, new life where we will see Great Spirit Himself. He will be there and then the purifier will be there and the one that stood last will be there and the one that helped Him will be there. And they said all the people that they say will be so appreciative of the things that they've done that they hardly touch the ground; from there they will be carried around, ya know, because of that person's faith and courage many of us have been saved and enter this new life. So that we will always remember their name and their work, their courage and their faith will be like we talk about the old world leaders, ya know, how what they did to help mankind throughout history. Well, that's the way it's going to be from there on because this is the last station now if we fail we go back to where we started from, or if we stop it and realize it then bring this out in a way that the majority people will help to hold on to this, then we enter this new phase and then from there on we will go on to this new peaceful life. See, this is the goal towards which the Hopi is working for all people, all living things and birds, animals and trees--even they are watching us--and if they see that we are about to destroy ourselves, they be crying to us like they all say go down the hill, the rock roll down. And cry, the blade of grass will be crying too. Birds will cry; everybody begin to be aware that we are about to destroy ourselves.
Kurt: This could happen any day.
It could happen anytime; of course right now there's a chance for us to stop because there are several leaders still holding on to it. And we travel all over the United States and we find some Indian leaders still holding on it. Even one or two people here and there see that's the way it's going to be, just a handful up here, and they're going to hold on to it. So those are the ones are now coming together cause that's the only way out of this troubled world.
Kurt: How do you feel about other leaders, like leaders of government, who give every indication that they intend to destroy the earth?
Well, I think there are a few sincere people in there but, the policy the program is all directed toward eventually taking control of our land. See, that's the main idea in the government because it seems like they all say that. Our white brothers separate from us because of the first people allowed this evil one to go a leave here. Like instead of throwing him down, they let him go on see, and that means that we have accepted again the part of the evil ways or using them along with our work. So our white brother was resented; he didn't like that so he separated. He went to other area. He wasn't given charge over this land here. Like the word in the bible is a chosen part of this earth and a there was a people who was picked out and tested; these people were left here to hold this land for the Great Spirit in that way but, the other one was also given but, it is much lesser than this one. But he will be the one to come and help to protect it but. When he comes, he's gonna describe for the first part because he wasn't given this first rite here just like in the bible The two brothers--one of them Cain was it--or I can't think of the name, Cain brought over something, something about the same thing here. So when he's come he's gonna do everything to try to take this land away from us but if we are strong and faithful enough like the Great Spirit told us, we wouldn't give in and someway this whole thing is settled for the first people who were here--would be actually become the first in the rank as far as holding this land and life for Him that depends on how faithful we carry so that is what they talk about here also.
Kurt: Does this make the Peabody Coal Co. sort of like an omen of the end or the beginning of the end?
Ya, and the (Boyden) too... see... because it's known that some individual some religious group or some race of people will come along in spite of all our telling about and warning about this. They just keep on going. And they said when the people comes, because of those people, because of when he's affiliated with other groups, they're in for a terrible punishment for doing it. Of course, they are dealing with our very life and our very land which the Hopi's are holding for the Great Spirit and the Great Spirit is gonna come and really punish those people and so are the purifiers.
Kurt: They are doing it to our land too and that's why many, many people are turning away from the people who claim to be our leaders but, who poison the earth, who pollute the oceans and the seas and the streams and the lakes, and who poison the air with smoke and smog and who are killing the animals and now these are a great many people, young people and some old people too, who have held to these beliefs. But, in way we have no leaders and so we look to traditions and to people who have held this state, and more, we were talking last night about the last four years especially; that people are turning to Native American Cultures who have spiritual leaders who will save the earth.
Now, do you want certain things you like to hear, have maybe Ralph tell you?
Kurt: Yes, of course.
You want to know about the council activities or B.I. activities in this village or what you...
Kurt: Try to give us the most important information that we need so that people can become aware of what your problems are and in anyway that we can help you. Spiritually, I think that we are very close to being brothers. What we can do outside, where people have to know, because that's our problem. We're fighting against these people who are destroying our life too, and the best way we can help is through the power of knowledge and nobody knows and not many people are interested but, if they know they become interested.
(Thomas speaks to Ralph in native language)
I think Ralph able to talk a little and maybe it's better if he himself tell you, even he knows a little bit of English words but, he can speak enough so that you can understand. And then, if in some places it doesn't make it clear maybe we could make it more clearer that part but, I think he does pretty good. I know that you'd like to hear directly from him.
(Ralph Selina is speaking)
Well, I'm glad that you came to know the Hopi's prophecy and what we are doing by the government...what the problem he giving to us which we don't like to accept things but, my word is spokeman for the tribe--which is not my really position--but, anyway those who are persons who have take the opportunity. Like, I can tell you that Bear Clans are suppose to talk for him and also the Sun Clans, those are the ones who suppose to be spokesman for him but, somehow they don't like to. They all turn to the government site and see, no new things are coming up to us. See they like to be needing like that, so they don't want to speak for our chief but, he wants me to talk for him as a spokesman so I told him that I can try. Now a spokesman for him, but, I would like to say this first. What nationality did you belongs too, and what believe did your Christianity? What did your really belongs to? We know that the white people belong in different Christianities but, I like to know that what your believe?
Kurt: I discovered that my belief is... the only real strong belief that I have it took me a long time to find it ...has nothing to do with Christianity and nothing to do with Judaism and nothing to do with any organized religion of civilization. My belief is the belief in the beauty and joy and life of hunt nature of animals of plants of this earth and this is the belief, its the only belief that I have now.
That's what I like to know, because I know that only God made all the humanities, all the people in giving their life and believe in how you can pray to Him and He'll know that is come from. I understand God this way, see, so that's why I ask you this. Hopi know where we come out from the under the earth, came to this Great Spirit and asked to live with Him. And He'll accept us and give us the land to who have to be leader and so he give this land to the Bear Clan. And all that Thomas told you already that's what He told him. He take all the land that is all the United States not only the reservation that the Hopi knows but, its all the United States that He has given, and all the people who meet on the United States is there, His children. So He take care of all the people and the nature on the ground. He pray for them and prays for the rain so that the grass and living things in the earth are growing. That's the opportunity that's given by Great Spirit to Bear leader, Bear Clan has to be the leader of all the people. And He told the white that the way back is not call him a white man; he is really a brother of the chief, a chosen one, ghost brothers. And He told you that Evil one is came with us too. which we run away from him. What he destroyed he done on the ground so we don't like to have no Evil ones on this earth. Anyway he came with us, and we finally caught him and tried to throw him back but he sold something to us so we accept to leave him here. So that man brother of the chosen man, he don't like that so he don't like those on this land with us he like to chose them ...he goes down to and he goes along the other way and when ever he come to this land, and they coming moving toward together sometime they met together somewhere and then he Hopi still onto the Great Spirit, this chief if he was still holding it he wouldn't done anything like a... punishment, but if he forgot all about the notice that given from the Great Spirit to the Hopi he fail on it then the white brother came to him took his ear and cut his head off that's how he want a punish his brother if he forget what the the Great Spirit given to him.
So he told his brother before he left from him I'll take whats he have on the ground, I'll take all other things that is all the inventions, scientific inventions. So he wants to take out of this world, and when he came to his brother and he gives to his brother as he tried to trap him, and calls him to death, and then he takes the land away from him -the Hopi's. That's what he tried to do when he came out to the this land so that's what the Hopi knows and its the way I look. It's true, He is telling the same thing what the old people are telling us. So He, Great Spirit told us not to accept anything from the white people that's tried giving to us and tried to take the land away from us and destroyed our life, Hopi life. So that's what we know, all the Hopi old people, tradition people knows that. So we don't like to accept those things, especially our chief he don't likes it. But, now these younger peoples like to be living like their white peoples and those are the ones who are not really chief but, they try to be telling the white people they are chiefs. But, now I look through these it's all coming on true what I know from my own people--the way they telling me--so now we are having a council the government formed for us. He said that they were helping our own chiefs protect our people, our chiefs, and that's what they saying and they working on that tribal council and when they formed the council to start from the beginning they are little ways to lack what it says on their Constitution but, they are running the way it says just only those who are appointed from each village. And when their term is up and they no other ones are beginning to run tribal council, there is the changing. Now this time they never run on that Constitution when it tells about and they are the ones tried to be the heir. Chiefs; they all really thieves. They never let them know what problems comes up and government officials, they never tell their chief, never what is the problem about and they accept it just because the people the young people like to believe white way, white peoples. And they getting money to work over there, they don't care about the chiefs, they mind what they are trying to tell those young people.
They don't mind it... Now, we don't have any representative to council, tribal council but, still those who are start from chairman that Peter said when the first tribal council was started: he's appointed from here to be a chairman and Betty she is a woman that is already gone. And those are the ones; still they are working with the Council even they appointed represented from this village but they are working with them. So that's what we had here already power-line that is never known by the chief. He never accept that but anyway they go ahead and work on that just for those who are man. The chief not accept those things and still they wanted to put the water runs through the houses. They working with that but that's not known by our chief; he don't like those things you know. Everything is from problems from the government. Our chief never accept anything but, anyway those are the ones accept those things and they still working with them, working with them, which we all know that we not suppose to be accepting those things. If we do, see, right now they have to have a power line to their houses. They have to pay what the money amounts too and see how much they paying in a month and that, and still they have water just the same way see they want pay it, sometimes they owe alot of money to the government. Whose going to pay for that? I know that those are whores, and they tend forget things those accepting things they won't pay. For them, they had a big government debt. Sometime then they would come around and you didn't pay this much and they goes round house by house, and they had a big debt then what he ask for, if you got a house, then even if the house is not worth what he owes. Then they goes take the house away from them and if it don't clear that debt what he got then what is your property and then what you got then he take the land away from you. Now, this is, you never belong to this place. Now you have to take your childrens and go out from this place, that's the way the government do, that's their idea to have these things and we know these things, and we don't have to accept these things because we have teachings, knowledge from the Great Spirit, how we can help our chief in this official. Following the followers of the chief we all know this what is going to be happening in the last days and how the white people came to us and tried to take the things away from us; that's all they want. See, so then I know this, the knowledge telling me, teaching me about death... you come to this you're not failed, you just keep on standing firm for your chief...it might be sometimes someone comes around and tries to help you on this.
The interview below is a transcript of a taped discussion that took place in 1970, recorded between Kurt von Meier and a Hopi tribe member named White Bear. In that discussion, they refer to Frank Waters, who wrote a book entitled "Book of the Hopi" which was published in 1963.
Interview with Hopi Tribe Member White Bear
He came to town to write a book or something. Somehow they got hold of Frank Waters and both went to New York, someplace and got a grant from some foundation and they got part of the money and came home. And he bought a recorder and he started moving his stuff up here, the next house to my aunts house. And he was going to write a book or something, but they thought he was just talking so but later they found out that was why he was moving up here. And then they told the group in New York that everything was ready everything was ok by the leaders. So they got the money and they went up to Oraibi to talk with us there that Bear Clan leader there. And that was because he was the son of Tawakwaptiwa brother, who was Christianized. He was always opposed to any tradition in religions because he was Christianized and his mother was also Christianized so he figured that since Tawakwaptiwa is the brother of his father they could get him to talk. He said, "no".
He just refused to do it because it's against the knowledge in the Hopi to do that at this time. Especially, revealing any kind of a religious part sacred things so he just turned him down. He got stuck there. He didn't know what to do so about two weeks later I just happened to go down there to ask him about something and I went in there and Frank Waters was in there. I didn't know him then but he introduced me to him. Then they had just finished supper and he said, "I better run up to Hotevilla." He said, "I'll be right back."
So in a few minutes, he came back with six elders. They came walking in, then one of their spokesman and some of their religious leaders came in then. So when she got them settled then he asked the spokesman if he still remembered some of the knowledge? What happened in the other world. How it was and for some reason destroyed and how it was destroyed, and if he knew anything about it? Of course, when you ask the old men they wouldn't tell young people you know.
So he started talking, and I noticed that he had a recorder like that. He was running it. So right away I knew what he was trying to do. Sure! If your going to record this you're planning on writing a book or a story or something; you had better explain that to them before you get them talking. So he stopped and then he didn't know whether to tell them or not but his wife told him, "Yes, you had better tell them. Tell them before you start off." So he did tell them his plan for writing it the book. So they told him--Frank Waters--"I am not going to do that because it's against"--sure, sure. He thought they came down for some kind of a meeting so they turned him down and then they [Frank Waters] said "If they insist, they wanted to know if they wanted to go ahead with it or not." They said no we'll wait till about four days, then we'll let you know because we have to ask others, religious leaders about it.
They went there and about four days later they came by. We picked them up and went up there to David's place. They ask us - ask David and David said, "No they turned it down. They don't like it." He [Waters] wanted to know about the rites. Yes, whether to write it down to get their names and things like that. They all turned him down. And then they got David, for they thought that David was the cause of them turning it down, but no, it was leaders; that was their instruction all the time. "We can't do that yet."
Kurt: Would they be willing to talk to them if they wouldn't put it into a book?
I guess they wouldn't talk to them anyway. Oh, they would talk to them about something but, of course, the religious part, some part, they can't tell you. It can only be told to an initiated person. If you are not initiated in that society you wouldn't know, not even if you lived in the village; still you wouldn't know. Even one society to another society like lodges or faternities. Only those people know, have the knowledge there and if it cannot be revealed to others, so that's the way it is. Here, so they couldn't reveal any of it of those things. The sense of tradition is very strong. That's very strong. And so they turned him down. He didn't know what to do. He got a scolding by his wife for not getting permission before they started. They didn't know what to do for another two weeks. Then they--a month later I heard that he visited different villages just asking questions here and there--just visiting and they, the elders, of course, naturally, are willing to tell something that they are asked. But he didn't tell them he was going to write a book or anything so they were surprised when that book came out without permission; they didn't know he was going to do this.
What he did was--those sacred alters and sacred parts--that he got is merely a copy from the former missionary that worked when they came out here. Voth's work and those people that are there and they took pictures of those things and that's some of those--that's what the drawings are, just copied from Santa Fe or near. I know that they just copied it from that, those books, and then put it in this new book and the say that these leaders today have revealed it to the world themselves, which is not true. None of those parts in there has any to what the real leaders know about.
A lot of this snake society and the second horned societies and the flute societies. Many of the societies in there are just some young kids trying to, you know, figure out what the meaning was. They just will say maybe this is what they meant. They put that down see--mostly assumption on their part--and they pick out a little here and there, different villages and make it as from Oraibi view. When I know that I have been through all of the villages and there is a little difference from different villages. You can not boil it down to one village point of view. You must write it separately to do it right.
Kurt: The traditions are that different?
There are little differences in the expression and also the knowledge - like he mentioned about the fifth, fourth world in there, which is not right. It's the third world that we are now in, whether we are going to enter the fourth or not Oraibi area. There are quite a lot of differences in there. This is Darre's boy. And so these are some of the things in that book a lot of people didn't like that and they're up in arms about it and ask me if I could ever find some attorney. Someone willing to sue this guy. We want to do that because it was done without their permission, because that's not what the book says - read in the book and you think that it's all approved. That's the impression they gave out you know, so we want to get an attorney to tear this apart and do it.
Kurt: Very interesting.
We want to do it but we are still looking around to see if I can find someone to take it. Maybe I know someone. One thing I would like to see it done because they, still after just last two weeks ago, they had a meeting up to First Mesa, a meeting with people.
Kurt: I am very interested too because I am a scholar, an art historian, and everytime somebody does something like that it makes it much more difficult for me. You see when I come around everybody sees somebody with a tape recorder then they are anxious. And, it makes it difficult. The book is printed and students read it and they think that's the truth. And it's not the truth. It is better, to leave it blank, if you don't know the truth.
That's right that's the whole thing. What we are trying to do. When you think about that when you read the book it can make a lot of difference. It's just merely another writer trying to bring out something which he doesn't quite understand. Which he is not sure of and then put it out like that. It makes it real bad; that's why these leaders didn't like that, because it was done without their knowledge, their consent as far as writing a book. The elders wouldn't talk to any young person when they ask questions if they are told, well, I am going to write this book, to write this and put in in a book form. They wouldn't tell anything.
Kurt: Is there anything that's good in that book?
There are somethings in there; I didn't read all of it. I just glanced through it but there are somethings that are all together different from things that I have learned from different areas. Of course, I have worked with all the traditional leaders from every village, and I know how they express certain things and certain parts of knowledge are different. Oraibi is different from other village from First Mesa so I know those are differences.
Is there any other book that's better or is there anything that say students in California could read to learn more about Hopis way of life?
I don't know of any other book I ever read except that I started to read a book on culture and crisis by Colliers. John Colliers, he was a pretty good man. He did some good things. He brought out some traditions, at least part of it. And also another book by that same person. There is a little museum pamphlet on Hopis in Colorado I know. There is not really very much. Mostly it's on the surface; mostly someone goes in like in a ceremony and sees the village laughter and in that period they were out here, but underneath there is a lot of things that people don't quite understand. It's never been written ever that way you know; in fact, a lot of young educated people have no interest in this kind of thing and they don't take the time to really learn more of the real meaning of somethings that is in the ceremonies. They do some of the things that is brought out, but it is not very clear and we have been trying to get some good writer who would take more time to really understand the Hopi's point of view. Of course, he would have to do it in such a way that the outside people would understand.
Kurt: Would he have to be Hopi?
He wouldn't have to be Hopi but it is going to take many years at least a year or two working in that period to really study to Hopi. I wanted to find someone that could go into that. We are getting into the area where these things will have to be brought out more and more in a way that the people outside will understand. So we are merely starting to bring these things out. That's a problem I guess, even for the traditional Hopi's in his concern for the preservation of that information, that some of the ceremonies have died out without being recorded.
Kurt: Or do you think that most of them are remembered even though they are not written down?
Most of them are still being kept up. Because it ran through their clan group, family or society, where each one has his own knowledge of some particular ceremony.
Kurt: But some clans have died out haven't they?
There are maybe two or three related clan groups will meet together to tell the one, or course, in the ceremonies. There are a lot of places like in Oraibi after 1906 it almost put an end to religious life-most of the, people went to Opal but the Kachina Society still in, the religious Soyal cereimony still carried on briefly in shorter form but not all, you know. They still remember. They still remember. They still remember they are just now beginning to increase more.
Kurt: We have just read that portion about the Soyal ceremony the other day before we left because we thought that would be just that time of year. Has that been going on this last week?
In Oraibi, they completed that last Tuesday and the Hotevilla will have their prayer early in the morning Saturday--this coming Saturday--and then there will be four days of hunting after that part of it. The rabbit hunting.
Kurt: Where do they hunt?
Just out here any place. That's for sort of a competition between the six kivas we have up there. So each kiva go out and see how many they can get. Then at the end of day they count and see which kivas has the most. Then the whole day ends, the women cook the stew out of it and we have a feast.
Kurt: What is in the stew? I am interested in the food. What goes in your stew?
Chile peppers, long green chilies. First you put it in the oven then you put a cloth or something over it and steam it. Then you peel it and either you dry them or freeze them. You put them in mutton stew instead of rabbit stew. We make our own hominy.
Kurt: What kind of spices do you use? Mostly sage?
We have different kinds of spices. This is one you put in stew. It's like thyme. I like to eat. We have different kinds of tea that grow right out here and then we also have different greens out there that we gather, dry and store. This is one we use with our fresh corn. We roast our corn over the coals. You eat these with your meat. It grows right out here. You just take this and sprinkle.
Kurt: The rabbit stew at the end of Soyal, is it a traditional stew, cooked in a special way? How do you cook that? Do you boil the rabbits?
You boil them, use the hominy that is fixed. We fix hominy two ways, with our ashes: the bushes around here, we burn it down and then we use steam off for a couple hours then the skins peal off. We wash it and par boil it, and then use it in stew. For special occasions, like when a baby is born, the mother goes on this salt free diet for twenty days and naming ceremony, then you fix your hominy a different way. You just soak that for a couple hours and then after that you grind that on your matdis with your hands just like this to break the skin and then you boil that, then it just pops open like popcorn in your stew. We have that for different occasions.
We fix our hominy in different ways. There are all sorts of ways to fix our breads for either our meals or certain things to go with your meat, and certain kinds go with greens that grow all year around. In the wintertime there are greens that come up. They are like Swiss chard. In the spring there are three or four kinds, many kinds grow in the summer there are plenty of greens.
There are about three or four kinds of Indian tea. It is very tasty. It just grows right around here. That's made from corn. It is called piki. You tie it in corn husk then tie it in shoe lace, kind of like hot tomalé. Some are more like tomalés that aren't tied. The grain out here is different, textures too, kind of like something to go with our rabbit. We bake it too. The corn is ground corn, course. You just wrap it and flap it over. You don't have to tie it or anything. Some are made with corn leaves for like weddings. Our piki bread, we make it on the hot stone like this. I have one here. Sister Mary, I have slides I have taken making bread. Sister Mary she sold the girls a view master for me and they got one. These little round films so I must have it exchanged and take that back to Flagstaff. Look at it where I am making piki on the stone.
Kurt: Is that for eating anytime?
Sometimes ceremony or wedding or feast. They make up a bunch of it, like for a hunting or planting ceremonial thing they make white or lavender color.
Kurt: How many different kinds? Are there four basic colors of corn?
There are six different colors. Six different. Four for each direction for the corners and up and down.
Kurt: Those are what?
Yellow, white, blue, red, lavender, and light blue.
Kurt: Cooking apparently is mostly a concern of women. Do men ever cook?
Once in a while we have to in order to survive. I have to do cooking too.
Kurt: Could you explain the rabbit hunt to me? That really interests me since it is going on right now.
Well, that part of the ceremony ends it's winding up the soyal ceremony. It's, of course, soyal is prayful of all living things on the earth. All peoples, moon, stars, springs and people from beyond and corrals and everything and all different games like rabbit, all different kinds like plant life. Everything is thought of and they put those out and then of course the rabbits represent the animal world. And they are also known to be very sensitive as far as they are the very connection between man and animal or between inanimate objects and man. That it is through taking their souls, that it's like a prayer. You pray to one thing and then you take the other just like an offering. A good bounty of crops--you take the ground or the food that's planted in there and that's just like a--you give and take every time. You do that, so they do that with a prayer even though they hunt and kill quite a lot of rabbit. Still they next year will have more rabbits for hunting, which is also looking back to nature for subsistence not man makings.
Now most of us think money is the only thing that we live by and we struggle and do all and everything just to make money. That's the money system but if the value of money is gone, then, even if you have a pocket full of money, the people say you go hungry. But if man knows how to plant corn and how to take care of it even if he was out of irrigation - and knows what plants and animals what other things out there for food, then you have knowledge of how to make a livelihood on this land with out much trouble--in case something happens out there a severe drought or something--a natural disaster that might happen. Why you still have some food to fall back to, that's the main thing. So when they go out hunting it's with a prayer that they give more, that is also up to each individual. Just like if I want to go hunting next--tomorrow--I will pray for it that I get something tomorrow then tonight at the meal that I will get something, not too many, but hope to get maybe one or two.
It's always with that humbleness; that you are not praying to get so many or more than the others. It's just hoping to get one or two something; that is part of the ceremony because it's a ceremony for prayer, that we are not here alone that everything around us that nature around us just like people plants, animals, birds, trees everything, we are just part of it see, man, we are not different from those. That's something a lot of our brothers have forgotten. Yes, that we are thrown in with- ourselves in those things when we mingle with them so that is constantly impressed to us in this ceremony. When you initiate, especially into the higher society, then you know the reason for different animals and birds and how to contact them through spiritual ways. Of course, in high society, you actually take part in these things. You feel the spiritual things in there then you begin to realize that you are not only a living self within a family but you are living with the other people outside. They are a part of you; that animals and birds are out there a part of you--the clouds, rain, and things there.
We all at once do what we can keep that idea or view all the time. That's when you learn to live in peace with all mankind. Nature--you don't disturb things too much--just enough to survive on, that's all. After all, if you're healthy and strong and happy there is not much else to need to go on. That's the main thing the Hopi teaches- humbleness and a simple way of living.
Kurt: On this rabbit hunt are they hunted in traditional manner or say like with a snare or a bow and arrow or something like that?
They use a stick more; of the men have to walk in groups.
Kurt: They drive the game?
Yes, sort of drive a long down this valley back and forth. Now we have sticks and some use bows and arrows but not many. A stick they use but now quite a number of them are using 22 rifles. But most of them are still using the sticks, and most of them walk. It used to be when we had a lot of horses that they would go on horseback. They would just run real fast through out this valley on horses with no saddle on. They just run up there up and down this valley like-- really going pretty fast especially when they are going after jack rabbit. They make a big circle all around then they start coming back to you. With a group of men walking then everybody starts running and if a man had a stick running on a horse they are right close to their horse. The rider must be very good in order to hit the rabbit. And even if you hit the rabbit, the man that gets the rabbit is the one that is going to get it, see? It doesn't belong to the one that hit's it. It is the man that gets it so. They hit that and the rabbit starts rolling, the horse rider just jumps right from the horse and lands right there and grabs it. It's pretty rough but they really enjoy that. It's really something to see.
Kurt: I wonder about the rabbit because, rabbits tend to proliferate. There are a lot of rabbits. Why was that animal orginally chosen to represent the fertility and the, rebirth of fertility in the soil? But also somehow was there was an intuitive ecological reason for that?
That was a time before the crops were started; you could sort of thin out the rabbit population and therefore make sure the grasses and the grain grew better too--because if the rabbit population was very thin then it would not make sense to have a competition to see how many you could get. But with one competition for four days you could probably keep things in pretty good natural balance.
Kurt: Like how far back; is there any idea how far back this rabbit hunt part of soyal goes? Is it just so old that no one knows?
No one is able to know just when like in Oraibi, we don't know when that ridge was established. That's the oldest continuous inhabited village in this country. And it goes many, many years back and, or course, that's when this society was set up to carry on this kind of life. It's so beautiful and it worked so well. That's because it is a natural balancing of everything as we go along. Like you mentioned the reason for the rabbit. The rabbit is a very intelligent being and that's a very important part like I said we have different clan groups. Clan groups which obtain their clanship from their mother's side but that clanship is derived from animals and that clan usually obtains a little bit of the intelligence or the knowledge that that animal has, or bird has, or the abilities just being of that they are acting as guards also as witnesses to the things we do in this world, and we appeal to them to their intelligence, their part in this life in balance and in going on it's course.
Kurt: It's a very important question to me. Maybe this is something we could talk about later on because even though I am not an Indian, I have spent a lot of time with people in Mexico, and I felt very close to certain animals at times, so that I think that if I were born into a culture that look on the land that were an Indian culture, for example, I live in the country. I have a ranch. I spend a lot of time watching hawks and I have felt at certain times, very special times, a relationship to hawks, so that even - I have dreams of being a hawk and of flying like a hawk and looking through a hawk's eyes and seeing things differently, in a different focus, to know what it feels like. That kind of experience is probably very deep in most people and there is no reason that it should be any different for me than it is for you. Except that I grew up in the city and I was so far away from it and I have 5,000 years of civilization to forget about. That is what has kept me from this kind of reality. That's the thing Hopi is holding on to, sure, that's the foundation of this life, which is under the surface.
I think she is ready with the food. That can roll that doesn't matter. We can go ahead and serve. I can just move this out of the way. This is for you, it's--you know for who ever wants it or needs it. It's a Christmas present. This all goes in together-- chiles--it's hot. It don't take much chile. Now, this is one of our very special breads, white corn meal with sprout wheat in it. You bake it, have a fire going in a pit, for five or six hours then you have to use a container. You make it over night, baked over low coals overnight; rocks that retain heat, or what rock built up, you keep the fire going in there for five or six hours until it is really hot then, you put this container with your batter into it and seal it up and you keep a small fire going all night. That's a long time.
Kurt: The batter, is it sweet corn?
No, it's white corn but we use sprout wheat, that's why it's sweet, you see, and we add boiling water.
Kurt: Anything else?
No, that's all. You have got some? I remember when I was a young man they used to--they had a ceremony and it's almost to make rain. It rains all over the whole western sky-- darkened about late afternoon and it just came over this whole, as far as you can see. The rain God coming and it rains all night, no flash flood. It just whipped around really good, and it rained for two or three days, sometimes like that, and there were lots of flowers and lots of things that grew and now we neglect nature of disturb nature or interfere with these things more. We will have other kind of things happening like the storms come up or hail stones or there will be--they said the one area be real green the other side would be dry--because it wouldn't be like a it used to rain a whole area. It would be more of a spot rain maybe like when two men have things together maybe on of them gets most rain the other one just doesn't get it. Things like that will be happening at this time quite a lot of things that which knows nature that we can tell or feel that a lot of changes from the former when life was good and people didn't disturb.
Kurt: Have you noticed weather changes recently?
Oh,yes, it changed quite a bit; by now we should have a good snow and the ground would be frozen, and then we would start thawing out the later part of February. The water starts running you know, melting snow, soaking the ground by the later part of April. It would be nice and warm and we would get ready to plant corn. Now, years maybe five years, you get late winters. One year I remember in April, Easter Sunday, everybody around here, the young people put their white shoes on for a Easter parade. It snowed that day. It came four or five inches of snow on the ground. The prophecy said, that you maybe would be going to plant corn and cleaning the field with our feet on the spot were we are going to plant. It is covered with snow, like we will wear our jogs or something to cover our hands. It will be cold. That is also known that we disturb nature and ceremonies.
[End of tape]
Comments compiled by Kurt about Hopi Prophecy
Finally, here are some excerpts from interviews and meetings. This material was gathered from Kurt's online book, "With Hidden Noise."
"In the late 1960s and early 1970s the principal present author visited Hopi lands in Northern Arizona on several occasions, meeting primarily with Thomas Banyacya, and the elders David Monongye, Ralph and Taylor Selina, and Herbert the Bonesetter, in the traditional villages of New Oraibi, Hotevilla, Shungopavi, and Shipaulovi. Having introduced several vexing issues into this text--such as religion, ecology, basic sanity and the like, about all of which the Hopi have developed extraordinary wisdom--a decision was made to include here certain edited sections from the transcript of four tapes which constitute the first-ever authorized recordings of Hopi prophecies. Obviously, their revelation here comes at a crucially important time in global history, both for the Hopi and for ourselves."
Well, the Hopi is always very happy, joking, laughing and teasing--just that kind of person, you know--so that's the feeling they like to create in everybody they know. The Hopi knows tradition. He has knowledge; that's why he knows what's coming, today and tomorrow. That's why I say I've got the movie up here [in my head]; I don't need to see movies because it's up here already. And there are certain things that the Hopi elders know, these men who have been initiated into [ritual] societies. They know, they can almost forsee some things coming, and they already know or envision what this person will see or do sometime in the future. The elders are well-versed in this when they are initiated into [what are called] "high societies." That's when they cut their hair like that [in a traditional manner, with straight bangs and a "page-boy" effect, forming a rectangular "window" in front of the face]. Because that's a window from the body to the heart and the soul. Looking out to the world from that window, they know all those things about religion, and what you are supposed to do.
Those head bands are mainly just to hold the hair in place, but they also signify some sacred duty a person was commissioned to perform, see, like some ceremony. Different head bands mean different authority. Also that is a special feature of the Hopi, so [when we travel] we always dress up like that, you know, signifying that we are Hopi. That is a feature we pass on from the Great Spirit, with the hair cut like that. There was supposed to be instructions following that line of teaching--and on the other end, to meet the Great Spirit, so he will recognize us.
The Great Spirit is the owner of this land. When we came to him, he gave us instructions about how to take care of it for him; so this land really belongs to the Great Spirit. It doesn't belong to us or to anybody else. It belongs to the Great Spirit; and the grandmother Spider Woman, and the twin sons---they were the ones who were caretakers of the land for him before we came. Then, when man came, the leaders were given authority over the land. The Bear clan leader was given authority over all this land and life, just like the Great Spirit himself would be taking care of. But when man finally came to him, the Great Spirit said, "Now I place it in your hands, you be the authority and the power over this land, and keep the land as I have...as long as you follow instructions. Nowhere must you cut up the land, no place must you give up your land, nor do anything to dispose of the land. Just take care of it just the way I have placed it in your hands and you'll have long life."
[But recently some of the younger people, especially through the influence of external religions, money and liquor] are beginning to neglect these things, and not fulfilling these obligations and going through the purifying like they should. So that even though they perform the ceremonies, it doesn't do much good. So these are some of the things that disturb [the elders] because these religious, ceremonial things, the religious activities, are the power by which we keep this land. So no matter what other programs come in here, like Bureau of Indian Affairs programs, or missionary programs, or industrial development programs--their intentions are always to disturb and to take hold of this land. Education programs take the children away and train them elsewhere--and the children go away.
So these are the things that keep tearing down the Hopi way of life, and the old people are concerned. They know this is going to disturb the land, and tear down the way of holding this land and life for all peoples. Eventually it's going to break down, just like they are disturbing nature all around us. They are digging into Mother Earth for everything to create some [profit] out of it, and they're polluting the air and water and everything, and disturbing things up above now, and all these things eventually are going to destroy us.
So that is why the knowledge of these things should be put out and explained, so that people will realize that if we don't stop these things it's going to destroy us--like total destruction. All around us it will take place and this [the three Hopi mesas in northern Arizona] will be the last place, because this is the center, the spiritual center from which the whole land is held. This is the last place that would be destroyed; then the whole land will go down. It's like the prophesies say: this land will turn over four times and put us back where we started from, in darkness, way down--so that would be the punishment. So this is the dangerous part, for failure to adhere to the instructions.
The prophecy, of course, is merely known things that will happen: that we've warned you now, if you don't stop doing this, this is what's going to happen. And if you're going in that direction, some signs will be shown or things will be happening, like if you destroy too much forest area, then there's denuding of that land and erosion will start, and other things happening--all those things, there's a warning to it. Then if we start to destroy our religious ceremonies we can't check the way of the wind anymore, the way it used to be, and the rain will cause flash floods, and there will start to be erosion, and many other things.
Once it has been disturbed and people neglect it, then things are going to start happening that lead to destruction, so that if we don't check this now it's going to happen. And so that is why we have a chance to stop it; if we learn to understand this, we have a chance to stop it. And the Great Spirit knows: if we can't stop it, if we don't know how to stop it, he has appointed the... purifiers to help us do that, with their power and might, and with the understanding they have about how they are going to purify this land.
Now one time I [Herbert the Bonesetter speaking] took some men down to Phoenix--we had a trial over some of the young men who were to be drafted, and we fought that. We did not want the Hopi to be drafted....On the night before we took the young men down to a theater, because we saw in the paper a picture show which was The Day The Earth Stood Still [the classic 1951 science fiction movie directed by Robert Wise]. I don't know what it was, but it looked kind of similar to the Hopi prophesies we know. So we went in there--these old men, the Hopi elders went with me. And after what they saw there, one old man came out and said, "I wonder who told that to the white people?"
That's the way we know it's going to happen. Somebody comes down from a flying saucer...they call it a flying saucer, but we call it something else. Then people will come watching us, checking on us fast, and we won't know who they are....One day someone's going to come here and warn the people not to go too far, but to get together and work among themselves; but they won't listen.
And see, it goes along with that story: when the "flying saucer" comes landing in front of the capitol, and then the white men all come with guns and try to shoot them, it won't do any good. And when they come out of the [spaceship], that's the way a person would come who's powerful--he's going to shoot his arrow at the machinery. The gun won't go, the airplane won't go, and all the machinery will come to a standstill. People will get out to look under the hood to see what's happened to their cars, you know. That's about what's going to happen when the Purifier comes.
These are some of the things that will be happening at that time. That's why I say we know that's how it's going to happen. When the Purifier comes it's going to be with horror and lightning. He's not going to stop and ask questions. [Like the flying saucer] he's going to go right directly to the village chief.
If we recognize this, we must help to support the [traditional Hopi] leaders, like the Bear clan chief. He supports authority in this way: he has no weapons of any kind; he has no way of demanding things. He's just merely holding onto that, the way he was told, and with the [clan or society] helpers around him, they perform the ceremony; and that's the only thing they can do to hold it. But if that is disturbed--well then, we are on our way to some kind of trouble.
But even if one man is hanging on, then as long as we bring this [teaching] to other tribes and to other people, somebody somewhere should understand, and someone will come to help support it. And [because of] that person's help, for the one who stands to the last [the Hopi who has preserved the traditional way]--no matter how hard it may be, like the Indian Bureau [the U.S. government's Bureau of Indian Affairs] putting all that pressure on them and threatening them, and all that--even if one person with a strong heart and courage is still standing and someone comes to help him...many other good people will be saved. Because by that time the Purifier will come and he will see that these people are protected from then on.
And those that are saved, like many of us left--like if Ralph [Selina] was the one that stood last, and if you people came and helped, and because of that help, this has put a stop to destroying the world and everything, and that whoever was saved after the purification, then many good people would be saved and go into the [next] new phase, the new life where we will see the Great Spirit himself. He will be there, and the Purifier will be there, and they that stood last will be there, and the one that helped him will be there. [The elders say] that all the people that were saved would be so appreciative of the things that were done, that they would hardly touch the ground...because of that person's faith and courage, many of us will have been saved, and gone into this new life, so that we will always remember their name and their work. Their courage and their faith would be like we talk about the old world leaders, and about what they did to help mankind throughout history.
This is the last stage now. If we fail, we go back to where we started from. Or if we stop [the destruction] and realize [the threats and dangers], and bring these [teachings] out in a way that the majority of people will help us hold onto [the traditional ways], then we enter a new phase, and from then on we will be in this this new peaceful life. This is the goal toward which the Hopi is working for all people, for all religions. And the birds and the animals and trees--even they are watching us; and if they see that we are about to destroy ourselves, well, they will be crying to us: the rock will roll down and cry, the blade of grass will be crying, the birds will be crying. Everybody will begin to be aware that we are about to destroy ourselves.
It could happen anytime. But right now there's a chance for us to stop it. There are several leaders still holding onto [the traditional way]; and we travel all over the United States and we find some leaders [in other tribes] still holding on to it--even one or two people, here or there--that's the way it's going to be, just a handful here and there. So those are the ones who are now coming together, because that's the only way out of this troubled world.
[The Hopi are holding this land for all]. And not only for man, but for all living beings: all plants, all animals, everything. [The Great Spirit] holds all this in his hand. The Hopi leaders work through their prayer, through their ceremonies, through their chants--everything is directed toward keeping life going. And if we go into deeper things--which we won't be able to explain unless you're initiated, because they are very sacred--secret societies still know that knowledge, and you go into deeper things there. You could almost see the machinery of all the religious parts of everything. It would be just like looking into a machine, like clockwork, in order to keep the wind and the rain and other things in check and in balance; it would be like that. Now it's only these people who know who can bring about the rain or check something. So the [Hopi elders and leaders have] said, the more people who understand these things and dig into [these matters, would signal] a time to reveal some part of it. So that way it would be gradually exposed to the outside world, and they would begin to recognize the point the leaders have been stressing: that this is the spiritual center, that these leaders are holding this land for all people, not only Hopis, not only Indian tribes, but all other people who come to us, and every living thing on this earth.