The Destruction of the Hopi Indian Culture
Tucked away in the high desert of Arizona above the Grand Canyon, once their sacred grounds, live the Hopi Indians, long known as the People of Peace and Children of God. Mysterious, isolated, and the only Indian nation in America to never sign a treaty with the government, never be at war with anyone, never ask the government for help and never to feel regret for all the wrongs that have been cast upon them, there is no indigenous nation on Earth like the Hopi.
Long before the new colonists settling colonial America reached the Hopi in Arizona the Hopi had been discovered by the Spanish Conquistadors who came to the Southwest from Mexico and South America where they spent a century plundering the Aztec and other indigenous tribes whose rich history and cultures have become legendary, like the Olmec, Toltec, Mayan and Aztec nations who prospered over 2,500 years from before the birth of Jesus.
The Spanish, following the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, were shocked by the human sacrifices of these native cultures and drawn to the incredible gold and riches of these ancient cultures so they plundered and conquered their way through Mexico into the areas now part of New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California. Before they were through over 90% of the Indians of Mexico died from diseases introduced by the White man and the wars.
During the same time caravans of Spanish ships returned to Europe laden with the treasures of the ancient kingdoms and as a result Spain was to grow into the most powerful and feared nation in Europe. It was the wealth of Mexican Indians that resulted in building the Spanish Armada, the fleet of warships of Spain that controlled the oceans of the world in the 16th century until Queen Elizabeth of England miraculously defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588.
It was during the century of conquest the Spanish conquistadors reached the Hopi nation in Arizona and were stunned to find a nation living in peace with no desire for war. As a result of the peaceful nature of the Hopi and failing to find an obsession with gold as with the Mexican tribes the Spanish granted the Hopi the only land grant ever given by a foreign government to an American Indian nation granting the Hopi all rights to Arizona, New Mexico, California and other parts of the Southwest.
However, the Hopi knew the act by the Spanish would be overturned by the next wave of White man coming from the East, the English speaking settlers of colonial America. You see the Hopi have an ancient prophecy dating back thousands of years to before the days of the legendary Atlantis, and this prophecy foretold of the coming of the Spanish, followed by the White man from the East, and the eventual destruction of the Hopi nation. To the Hopi the fulfillment of the prophecy was the will of Father Creator, their God who is comparable to the Christian God, and even though the Hopi nation would be reduced from over 100,000 when the Spanish arrived to about 10,000 today, it was the path of evolution they would follow.
Since the coming of the English speaking White man from the east in the 17th century we have stolen their lands, giving huge sections to other Indian nations like the Navajo who were at war with the White man. Missionaries from the Mormon church and others have tried to convert the Hopi to Christianity. By early in the 20th century all the Hopi children were kidnapped by our government and sent to government schools where English was taught instead of their Hopi teachings and the ancient ceremonies and prayers inherent in the Hopi way were banned. All was consistent with the ancient prophecies.
In time the influence of the white man would virtually destroyed the ancient Hopi Indian culture while fulfilling the ancient Hopi prophecies.
It was 46 years ago when two of my fraternity brothers at the University of Arizona in Tucson, native Navajo, first introduced me to the ancient Hopi in Northern Arizona, a reservation surrounded by the Navajo where the Hopi were sent to die out. The three mesas they occupied had no agriculture for food, little water and no resources. All of the Hopi lands that were rich with natural resources like the Colorado River, the source of water and electricity for California, and the rich copper and uranium deposits, were confiscated from the Hopi without cause, legal proceedings or dignity.
Still the Hopi remained at peace knowing the troubles they were to face. It was all according to the ancient prophecy.
Many times since I have returned to the reservation to meet with the elders and study the ancient Hopi way. I was accepted as a pure heart or "one heart" by the elders and they have shared more and more of their secrets over the years. It is a rich and highly spiritual legacy far more demanding than the Christian culture I knew as the Hopi were required to spend about 224 days a year performing religious ceremonies to honor Father Creator (God) and Mother Earth (The Holy Mother Mary).
The ancient Hopi prophecies are preserved by petro glyphs carved into the canyon walls by the Hopi thousands of years ago, and contained on four sacred tablets that have been handed down throughout time. It is the story of the five cycles of civilization of mankind, we are now in the 4th cycle of civilization, from the beginning through the end of time. I have seen the canyon prophecies and sacred bundles and talked of their meaning with the elders over the years.
These prophecies foresaw the coming of the “Bahanna”, or white man, and how the influence of these people would eventually lead to the destruction of the Hopi traditional culture, and with it an end to the current cycle of civilization as we know it. As of today, according to Grandfather Martin Gashwesoma, keeper of the sacred stone tablets and spiritual leader of the Hopi nation, less than 5% of the surviving Hopi still practice their ancient cultural beliefs.
PROPHECY OF THE WHITE MAN
The coming of the Hopi’s lost white brother was long awaited by the people as it was foretold in the Hopi prophecies. It was a prophecy that would not be fulfilled until the year of 1540. At that time the famous Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, dispatched a party of soldiers and a Franciscan friar named Juan de Padilla to explore Indian villages in the area that is now Arizona. Nearly 43 years later the Spanish returned, and in 1598 the Spanish requested the submission of the Hopi to the King of Spain.
After requiring the submission of the villages to the King, the Spanish began sending missionaries to convert the Hopi to Christianity and many were converted. By 1674 several churches had been build in the villages. The next step was to require the Hopi to stop performing their ceremonies and follow those of the church. Shortly after came droughts, the destruction of the Hopi crops, and famine. A small group of Hopi secretly preserved the Hopi ceremonies by continuing them in the mountains.
By 1680 the Hopi finally refused further persecution and drove the Spaniards away. It was not until 1700 that Padre Juan Garaycoechea came to the Hopi and again tried to convert them to Christianity. And once again the Hopi drove them away. It would be nearly a century before the white man would harm them again.
One prophecy foretells of the time after the war between the United States and Mexico that resulted in the US taking control of the Hopi lands. The US government then failed to uphold promises to the Hopi to protect them in 1852 from attacks by the Navajo Indians. When the Navajos were defeated by the US in 1864, much of the Hopi land was given to the Navajo without the consent of the Hopi.
Yet another prophecy told of when the traditional ways of the Hopi would be threatened by the Bahanna, which happened beginning in 1887 with the opening of the first public school on the Hopi reservation. By the early 1900’s the US began the imprisonment of Hopi parents who refused to send their Indian children to the schools. The banning of all traditional rituals and ceremonies soon followed.
The mysterious Hopi nation has long been a source of speculation and myth. They are the only Indian nation in America that has never been at war against other Indians or the white man. They are the only Indian nation that has refused to sign a treaty with the United States government. They have never requested assistance in terms of food, housing or medical aid from the US government.
They grow their own food in the harshest desert under the worst conditions, and have been self-sufficient for over 800 years. They spend 224 days a year performing religious ceremonies, and recognize both a single God (Creator) figure, a Jesus figure and the Holy Mother Mary (Mother Earth). Hopi traditionals refuse to allow Mother Earth to be harmed in any way, including refusing to allow any disruption in the earth from sewer pipes, water lines, mineral mining and anything else to be taken or buried in the earth.
Long called the People of Peace and Children of God, it is ironic that the among the people the Hopi wanted to protect, the Bahanna, they were the very ones who have done the most to destroy this ancient culture. A course of history that was foretold in the ancient Hopi prophecies.
For further truths about the Hopi see:
Frank Waters, Book of the Hopi, New York: Penguin Books, 1963.
Sandy Johnson, The Book of Elders, San Francisco: Harper, 1994.
Hopi Elders. “The Techqua Ikachi” file, 44 newsletters explaining Hopi prophecy