RE: THE PROPHECIES
The story of the Hopi people during the hundred-plus years of David Monongye's life is a study in contradictions. And yet these very contradictions were mentioned among the Hopi Prophecies that had been imparted to him when he was a youngster - along with the one about the "roads in the sky" which did indeed appear. As for the contradictions: For example, here were the so-called "Peaceful Ones" whom prophecy said would nevertheless engage in some form of conflict among themselves, at some point in the future. In 1906, the oldest and largest village - Oraibi - became the scene of such a conflict, causing it to split into two villages. David witnessed that event and all that led up to it. It would bring about the establishment of the village of Hotevilla, where I met him 67 years later in 1973.
The Prophecies also foretold of a time when their sacred Ceremonies would cease to be performed. Well, once Oraibi had been split in two and a few hundred people - including David - were forced to leave the village with nothing more than the clothing on their back - certain Ceremonies could no longer be practiced, since certain members of the Clans required for their proper implementation had also been banished.
David told me that what brought this all about was itself a Prophecy, but one that has been proven to have more than one interpretation. That prophecy spoke of the return of the Bahana - the Lost White Brother - who had emerged with the Hopi from the previous Third World and who - like the Hopi - had set about on a journey that would take him to distant lands where he would learn many new things; but he too would return as the Hopi had, to the land that Massau'u, its Caretaker Spirit, had entrusted to them. And that would be a good thing. Yet, the trouble started when white people actually did show up - starting with the Spanish Conquistadors and Missionaries. For what they were asking of the Hopi was to forsake the very religion upon which the Prophecies were based.
What may sound like the plot line for a Marx Brothers movie was - unfortunately for the Hopi - what their Prophecies foretold they would not only be confronted with, but which they would have to overcome; not just for their own sake - but - as they told the new wave of white people who appeared two centuries later in the form of Mennonite missionaries and the U.S. military - for the sake of the world, including the newcomers. But these newcomer white people would also attempt to change the Hopis even though they admitted that they had never before encountered a people who seemed so well adapted, productive and content in their way of life. Talk about contradictions.
NOTE: It should be noted that in 1845, an enterprising editor named John L. O'Sullivan came up with a concept that sold a lot of newspapers -- he called it "Manifest Destiny". It stated that the United States had the God-given right and duty to expand throughout the North American continent. By the late 19th Century, Manifest Destiny had been all but adopted as a National doctrine; and one that has never really been entirely abandoned. In fact it would soon take on benevolent trappings and become as unmistakably American as apple pie. A contemporary example of this belief - that we know better because God is on our side - was particularly prevalent during the previous Administration, causing upheavals in the minds of other cultures throughout the world that we are now paying the price for in more ways that we can imagine. Perhaps the attraction of other cultures to our MacDonald's' and Wal-Marts shouldn't be mistaken for similar predilections for our governmental or dominant religious institutions.
THE BAHANA REAPPEARS
Meanwhile, back in the late 1800's, the National concern was not (directly) about converting the Hopi to a specific religion - the fate of the Spanish Missionaries who had tried that was now part of history. This time the approach was much more subtle - even civilized -- the operative word in the combined Mennonite/US Military civilized approach being "education".
Some of the Hopi were so insistent that they had to adhere to the instructions that were given to them and handed down within the Prophecies that they were willing to go to jail rather than succumb to the will of the white men. BELOW is a picture of the first time they were incarcerated, in 1885. Their crime? Refusing to allow their children to be taken to boarding schools. One of the men in that picture - David's uncle, Youkeoma, who was the leader of those who would be branded as "Hostiles" - would be jailed 10 more times, for the same reason. Notice the Archive that was the source of this picture. As one of the Mennonite Boarding School teachers put it: "Well of course we exposed them to a little Scripture." *
Here's a closer look at the same 19 men sans the Alcatraz background. David's uncle is seated in the Front Row on the extreme right.
Here (BELOW) is Youkeoma and some of the other "Hostiles" being (literally) carted away for the last time 30 years later, for precisely the same reason -- refusing to allow the children of (now) Hotevilla to be taken to boarding school. Once the objecting parents and relatives were put behind bars, the children were taken from the village by the US Military - at gunpoint - and placed in the schools, where their traditional-length hair was cut off, they were forbidden to speak their language, and new non-Hopi Christian names were given to each of them. That's what happened to David Monogye after one of the earlier incarcerations and how he got the non-Hopi name "David". On the plus side - I suppose - that's how he also learned how to speak pretty good English.
"WE DON'T NEED NO EDUCATION-WE DON'T NEED NO THOUGHT CONTROL" PINK FLOYD - "THE WALL"
So then, what was the problem? Why the objection to a seemingly benign thing like education?
Few indigenous people of this or any other continent have been so studied and written about than the Hopi. Many of the books contradict each other in many ways, depending on their author's perspective. We've already mentioned Benjamin Lee Whorf's study of their language and it's peculiar perspective on Time. But even his conclusions have been questioned. The same holds true for what has been written about the Traditional/Progressive deliniation which was so prevalent during the '70' and '80's . Some have interpreted it as politically motivated - meaning it was based on power - while others have maintained it was based on religious perspective - meaning they were motivated by what David Bohm called "an assumption of Absolute Necessity" and they could not do otherwise. And then there's this aspect of the Hopi never having lifted a finger in their own defense. But history books tell of the Great Pueblo Uprising that the Hopi also took part in, along with the Zuni and other so-called "Pueblo tribes". The major battle took place in the village of Awatovi and scores of Spanish soldiers and missionaries who were abusing the village's inhabitants were killed.
All of these contradictions converge in a single event that all the books agree happened one September morning in 1906 in the village of Oraibi. They just offer at least half a dozen different explanations as to why it happened. Although all seem to agree it had something to do with allowing or not allowing the children to be "educated".
The reason for all this confusion is due to the Hopi people themselves. The complex and delicate balance that had been nurtured for centuries, perhaps millennia among the different Clans and their Ceremonial duties, as well as the matrilineal lineage that provided its biological structure was held together by something that is unique to the Hopi. We've already mentioned the word "umwelt" which may be described as a sort of "existence view" as opposed to a "world view". But among the Hopi that "existence view" had been so finely developed that its survival was protected by individuals who actually inherited that reponsibility - as someone today might inherit the family farm or the family crest. In fact, the English word closest to the Hopi word used to describe each familially handed-down or inherited "existence view" is "theory". And as Theoretical Physicist David Bohm often pointed out - the word "theory" does not mean the way of looking at something, but a way of looking at it.
MY THEORY ON THE ORIGINAL HOPI "THEORY"
So, it stands to reason that certain familial structures maintained "theories" or "existence views" which were closer to the original "existence view" than others. But which family's "theory" remained closest to the original "theory"? That's why I've decided to tell the rest of the story the way David told it to me and to look for corroboration of his "theory" in the various books that have been written about the Hopi - rather than vice-versa.
This was no arbitrary decision. When I showed up it was David who held the title of "Keeper of the Hopi Prophecies." He didn't tell me that, the other Hotevilla elders did. And at the time, Hotevilla was considered the last bastion of Traditional Hopi life. Furthermore, one could readily discern how all the elders deferred to David in "spiritual" matters. What exactly were these "spiritual" matters? They referred to how each individual interacted with the rest of the seen and unseen world. Not a single interaction was overlooked in this determination, and all were measured against the original meaning of the word "Hopi" - which in its broadest interpretation meant "righteous". But perhaps the most telling measurement was the one-sentence explanation that David gave me regarding what "being Hopi" meant, when he said:
"They can come here to kill us and our wives and even our children, but we will do nothing -- or we will become them."
You can't be taught to believe something like that. And if it is taught to you, chances are you'll either forget it or ignore it, when the chips are down. Unless of course you're nuts, or you comprehend its implications in the marrow of your bones and cannot do otherwise. In either case, it pretty much has to be a fundamental aspect of one's "theory", as it surely was with David Monongye.
Could the original Hopi "theory" have been so highly developed, that it forbid the act of killing - even in self-defense? As we'll see, there are some who think that, initially, the human species was born "whole" - with the inate ability to perceive all of Life as being an inextricably connected, integral whole -- meaning it was impossible to do harm to any element of Life, without doing harm to all of it. J. Krishnamurti suggested that such was the case in one of his famous Dialogues with David Bohm. He further suggested that it was only later in our species' development that perhaps "mankind took a wrong turn" and evolved - (devolved?) - into what it is today. Bohm agreed.
So it may well be that the original Hopi "theory" was directly perceived** - rather than being intellectually constructed - by certain members of our species who, as Krishnamurti suggested - were born "whole" with the capacity to tap into what he called "creative intelligence." Along the way, others whose "theories" were also perceived directly joined them and together they slowly and methodically developed a series of year-round ceremonies that corresponded with what they perceived as their direct relationship with their "Mother" - or what we call "Earth". Why "Mother"? It was "She" that - as David put it - "gives us milk from her breast" and provided the sustenance that was needed to keep them alive.
In their "theory", everything was alive - and therefore sacred. And the ceremonies were a way of communicating that relationship to those who were perhaps not as highly developed. By doing so, they perpetuated the knowledge of that relationship throughout the millennia.
Briefly stated, education was imparted through participation with the environment - for it was through this form of education that Life was sustained. And this was what the Bahana - the Lost White Brother - wanted to replace with their own form of education.
It appears that the Bahana may have ultimately succeeded in doing so. If he did, one question remains: At what cost... not to just the Hopi... but to all of us?
(MORE TO COME)
PS: Thanks for the photo at the top of this entry, Tenaya.
* " When Hopis encountered the Spanish, and later the Americans, they met peoples who did not believe that the Hopi gods were real. Missionaries believed that their Christian and Mormon gods were real, but they did not take seriously the idea that Hopi religion was valid. Today some Hopi scholars, like Armin Geerts, claim that they are culturally sensitive because they concentrate their efforts on translating the Hopi language, but their underlying message is that nobody's gods are real. Scholars like Geerts and Peter Whitely, however friendly to and respectful of the Hopi, think they know more about Hopi religion than do the Hopi, despite the fact that the Hopi taught them most everything they know." ---- John D. Loftin "RELIGION AND HOPI LIFE"
** See my earlier references to J. Krishnamurti's and Psychologist James J. Gibson's use of the term "Direct Perception". Both men denied the need for thought or the process of cognition to be used in the act of Perception.