Monday, January 14, 2013

Trail Dust: Aging cacique offered glimpse of Hopi history

by Marc Simmons

...The Hopis lived mainly on three finger-like extensions of Northern Arizona’s Black Mesa. In 1540 Coronado, then encamped with a large expedition at Zuni, sent Capt. Pedro de Tovar with a small force northwest to explore unknown country.
    Tovar came upon the seven Hopi towns and was welcomed at Oraibi. Its people at first believed he was Pahána, the lost white brother of native legend, whose return had long been anticipated.
The Spaniard’s conduct, however, quickly dispelled that notion. In fact, the Hopis concluded that arrival of this false Pahána signaled trouble for them in the future.
    With the founding of the Kingdom of New Mexico in 1598, Hopi Land was included as the westernmost province. Not until 1629 did Franciscan missionaries arrive there to begin converting the Indians.
One of the largest missions rose at Oraibi. Hopi work gangs were forced to carry from the mountains huge logs for roof beams and to haul heavy stones for walls up from the valley floor.
    In tribal memory, to this day, the hated Oraibi mission is referred to as the “slave church.” But that structure and all else connected to Spain’s occupation was swept away in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt.
Unlike the Rio Grande Pueblos, who fell once more under the white man’s yoke after 1692, the Hopis retained their independence to the end of the Colonial Period, despite repeated efforts by Spain to regain their submission.
    When the American government obtained possession of the Southwest in the mid-19th century, the Hopi tribe looked to it for protection from raiding Navajos and Utes. In addition, the Hopis found it necessary to deal with federal officials, school teachers and Protestant missionaries.
    Inevitably, tensions arose within the villages, factions formed and internal disturbances erupted. Nowhere was the discord more serious than at Oraibi.
    There, by the late 1890s, the pueblo had split into two warring factions: One was called the Friendlies, or Progressives, and was pro-American, approved sending their children to school, and compromised on government demands that called for culture change.
    Their bitter foes, the Hostiles, were sharply anti-American, rejected white men’s schooling, and remained stout traditionalists.

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