Banned #DailyPost

Today’s prompt

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We wish to leave behind the negatives, open our minds to the new, the innovative: the positives. Around us we see the future being built, as our present. Of course the signs of the past are all there, as if to remind us all that nothing is, ever, unchanging, immutable. Time, they say, is a great healer. Perhaps.

Rather, we see time as the veil that keeps us guessing about the meaning of the present,  about what is around the next twist of destiny.

We look at the approaching winter sky: banned be regrets about a past that may never have existed, beyond now. Only the Dead know what it might have been like. We, the still living, can only dream of asking them, or reading the signs…

Photo: Sunset, Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona, USA, ©2016 Honoré Dupuis

Flourish #TheDailyPost #WritersWednesday

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Publish a new post on your blog interpreting the theme…

Since their land was so inhospitable to foreign eyes, they retained their freedom longer than those tribes whose territory the predators desired, and plundered. Little did the invaders knew that the old prophecy had been tested: they were imposters, their creed a fraud, their ignoble brutality a sign they were of inferior stock to the tribes that knew the Peaceful Way.

So they survived the Castillans and their priests, the Anglo preachers who knew nothing of their culture and kept kidnapping their children, in the futile hope to convert them, and now the flow of tourists, ignorant, sun-burnt and fat, and ever so friendly. Yet they flourish, on the same land, now spared the threat of raiders, with better healthcare, a rewarding trade, and still, their incomparable freedom.

Image: The Medicine Man, John Moyers, 2007, oil on canvas, Tucson Museum of Art

Survival #TheDailyPost #amwriting

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

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April was a blessing, a trip to a far away and remote country we love, meeting fascinating people, and that reflective time that a writer always needs. Of course there was the challenge, but we had planned for it. It was fun.

The truth is that we did not write anything of substance for a year. I say “we”, because the “characters” – I see them as some kind of spirits, the kachinas of this occult art – did not contribute much either, and so it is only fair to include them. There were titbits of flash fiction, the beginning of a plan that led nowhere…

In brief, the rot had set in. But once back to this crowded little island, ideas came to the surface, en masse. And now, there is a structure slowly emerging. The characters are taking shape, their souls are stirring.

Ha! Creation… The old Scrivener has been taken out of mothballs. No longer survival time, but Renaissance!

Yawpa #AtoZAprilChallenge

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Yawpa is the Hopi name for the Mockingbird. “The mockingbird fluttered around the bamboo, calling out, ‘Pashumayani! Pashumayani! Be careful! Be careful!’ This is the way the people departed from the Lower World” (from The Four Worlds: the doorway to the Fourth World, in ‘The Fourth World of the Hopis’, by Harold Courlander.)

From Wikipedia, the Northern Mockingbird:

It also features in the title and central metaphor of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. In that novel, mockingbirds are portrayed as innocent and generous, and two of the major characters, Atticus Finch and Miss Maudie, say it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because “they don’t do one thing for us but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us”.[47]

Hush, Little Baby” is a traditional lullaby, thought to have been written in the Southern United States, its key first lines, “Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”

The song of the northern mockingbird inspires much of classic American folk song of the mid-19th century, “Listen to the Mocking Bird“.[48]

Mockin’ Bird Hill is a popular song best known through recordings by Patti PageDonna Fargo, and by Les Paul and Mary Ford in 1951.

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, had a pet mockingbird named “Dick.”

The sound of the Mockingbird

Image: By 21_Mocking_Bird.jpg:
John James Audubon (1785–1851)

Alternative names
Birth name: Jean-Jacques-Fougère Audubon
Description
American ornithologist, naturalist, hunter and painter
Date of birth/death
26 April 1785
27 January 1851
Location of birth/death
Les Cayes (Haiti)
New York City
Work location
Louisville, Kentucky, New Orleans, New York City, Florida
Authority control
VIAF: 14765625
LCCN: n79018677
GND: 11865098X
BnF: cb118895048
ULAN: 500016578
ISNI: 0000 0001 1040 5229
WorldCat
WP-Person21_Mocking_Bird.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13259783

Walpi #AtoZAprilChallenge

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We leave Flagstaff on the I89 direction North. Soon we see the sign for the Sunset Crater and Wupatki, but today we are heading further up in the Navajo country. Shortly after Cameron we cross the Little Colorado River, theatre of many migrations over two millennia of Native American history.

We turn off East, toward Tuba City, named for Tuuvi, a Hopi Indian who converted to the Mormon faith. A small sign shows us the way to the Dinosaurs footprints. A young Navajo man welcomes us and gives us a guided tour of the prints: mind-blowing, 65-million-year-old tracks on the red rocks and sand. He explains the discovery, and that in due course more prints will appear as erosion does its work. We understand the sanctity of the place, and the due regard to time’s work: no hysterical digging here! On the horizon we see a green line following presumably a river bed: there is water there for sure, and the guide explains that farmers have been cultivating corn and other plants there for a thousand years. For $100 we could have an extended guided tour of the Western Navajo Reservation. But today we want to continue our exploration further East. We thank him, leaving a gift of $40, and after a long look at one huge footprint, we resume our voyage.

We are now travelling on Highway 264 in the direction of the Black Mesa. Traffic becomes rarer, mainly the occasional pick up trucks. We miss the Gold Mine canyon (no sign!) and soon we see the settlement of Old Oraibi. We are in view of the Third Mesa, in Hopi country. We pass the Second Mesa, and we drive up to the Hopi Cultural Center, it is lunch time already.

After we have sampled some delicious Hopi cooking, my partner Gorgeous goes negotiating with the lady in charge of the gift shop. After half an hour of diplomatic exchange, always cheerful, we receive authorisation and detailed instructions for a visit to the ancient village of Walpi on the First Mesa. Our guide, Chucky, will wait for us there.

We drive past the I87 junction, admiring the new Hopi Health Center on the South side of the Highway. We drive over Wepo bridge and shorty afterwards turn left toward the First Mesa villages. We drive slowly and carefully through Tewa and Sitsomovi, children wave at us, we wave back. We park the car on the gap, just before the village of Walpi. Our guide appears, we exchange greetings.

The site of Walpi, at the tip of the First Mesa is a wonder: high above the plateau, with 360 deg. views all round: to the North toward the Navajo Reservation and the immensity up to Utah, to the South toward the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest (which we will visit the following day.)

In sober words, and with smiling eyes, our guide explains the village, its old houses (most of them it turns out were built in the 17th century.) He points out the patient works of maintenance to repair roofs and walls, visible on several houses. Some of the carpentry must be more than ancient. The village is immaculate: wood and stones, under the cloudless blue sky. The guide points out a steep staircase going down to the ground far below. Occasional fences protects pedestrians from falling off the street which is circular around the village. We see ancient stone ovens, clearly still in use. We see a well! We are told about the kivas, the underground ceremonial chambers much mentioned in the tradition, recognisable by the long pole merging from the opening. We are told about the kachinas, the Spirits and their representation, in ceremonial dances and in the special sculpted dolls, that are one Hopi speciality.

The village seems deserted, but it is not as we soon find out. Our guide points out his house, and we soon arrive at the Plaza, the center of village life, social and ceremonial. Walpi is special and the plaza the center also of a deep mystery: the Sipapuni, or, traditionally, the place of  emergence from the Lower World. We are told that when time comes, boys are sent to the desert to collect snakes. They are then to spend the night before the ceremony, in the kivas, with the snakes. The medicine men ensure no-one is hurt, even if a snake bites! Our guide undertook the rite as a fifteen-year old and still smiles about it…

We are shown the Sipupani, in the center of the plaza, where all tribes, including our own, came from. Is there an opening? Or the symbol of it? This is the special meaning of Walpi, and the reason why, twice a year, for the arrival and departure of the Spirits (in their own migration from and to the Sacred mountain white people called the San Francisco peaks, near Flagstaff) the main ceremonies are held in Walpi. Hopis are summoned nowadays by the Hopi radio station and the Internet. Our guide has spoken to the village chief before our arrival: we are authorised to take a picture of the plaza: awesome!

We slowly continue our walk: then our guide knocks at the low door of a small house. We are invited to enter. The room is spotless, strangely light despite the size of the very small window, and immediately its owner introduces himself. This is the workshop of a master carver of kachinas. A wood stove is burning but the room is cool. On a low table we are shown a collection of beautiful kachinas. One tall sculpture represents the gods and dancing ceremonies, with the village at the base, two eagles surveying the scene: a marvel. Our guest explains that it took him ten years to carve. Other kachinas represent spirits and dancers, there seems to be a kachina for all occasions. We see a beautiful dancing Butterfly maiden, dressed in the customary dress of the Butterfly dance: a delicate and beautifully coloured doll – what a present for a young daughter (we negotiate the price, and both of us feel good about the transaction.) The craftsman explains that such a doll is used for the education of the girls, to teach them the ways of the Hopis, their role and responsibilities.

We could listen to our guest for a long time, but we have been in the village for two hours already! We thank our guest and guide, who makes sure we are back to our car.

Slowly we drive back through the villages, children wave, we wave back. Our minds are full of images from this magic village. We take the I87 southwards, in the direction of old Homolovi, and the modern Winslow. The three os us are now four, with the Butterfly maiden, silent and smiling.

Image: the plaza at Walpi, First Mesa, courtesy of the Walpi village chief, and our guide Chucky.

Snap

Vanished #AtoZAprilChallenge

Dedicated to the Native American tribes, victims of the greatest genocide in history, who knew agriculture, and the art of living, when Europe was starving, crawling in medieval darkness.

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He stands on the red rocks, alone with ghosts, his sight on the painted horizon.

Slowly they appear in his vision: the millions, slaughtered by disease, hunger, the swords and bullets of the invaders.

He remembers: a people in tune with nature, who understood the path of Mother Earth, as no-one since has understood Her.

And, now, he, the white scientist, knows the end is near: his own tribe will have to leave the Fourth World, and find solace in hell.

Then the braves will rise from their forgotten graves, as trees from the desert.

Written originally for the #FiveSentenceFiction prompt “Abandon”

Photo: 12th century Wupatki ruins, Wupatki National Monument

Earth #TheDailyPost

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Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.

“We’ll be fine here,” she says, looking to the horizon and the melting ochres of the desert. I acquiesce: not only this is a blessed land, but we also know the people here, they are our friends, they have adopted us, and they will bury us according to the rites.

“And you see, this little house, this is so much better than the stupid apartments we spent fortunes on in the city!” The house is simple, thick natural walls, a little nest against the cliff, invisible from the ground…

And far away from the noxious fumes and radioactive dust of what is left of civilisation…

Photo: Walnut Canyon cliffs and ancient Pueblo dwellings, Arizona © Honoré Dupuis 2016

Sipapuni #AtoZAprilChallenge

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When a stranger comes to the village, feed him. Do not injure one another, because all beings deserve to live together without injury being done to them. When people are old and cannot work anymore, do not turn them out to shift for themselves, but take care of them. Defend yourselves when an enemy comes to your village, but do not go out seeking war. The Hopis shall take this counselling and make it the Hopi Way.

– from the Palatkwapi story

In the beginning there was only Tokpella, Endless Space. Nothing stirred because there were no winds, no shadows fell because there was no light, and all was still. Only Tawa, the Sun Spirit, existed, along with some lesser gods. Tawa contemplated on the universe of space without objects or life, and he regretted that it was so barren. He gathered the elements of Endless Space and put some of his own substance into them, and in this way he created the First World. There were no people then, merely insect-like creatures who lived in a dark cave deep in the earth. For a long while Tawa watched them. He was deeply disappointed. He thought, ‘What I created is imperfect.These creatures do not understand the meaning of life.’

So Tawa called his messenger, Goyeng Sowuhti, Spider Grandmother, and told her to go down and prepare the living creatures for a change. Spider Grandmother went down. She spoke to the insect creatures, saying, ‘Tawa, the Sun Spirit who made you, is unhappy because you do not understand the meaning of life. He says: ‘The creatures are fighting among themselves. They see but they do not comprehend. Therefore I will change things. I will make a new world, and I will perfect all things that have life in them.’ This is the message Tawa asked me to bring. Therefore prepare to leave this place to enter the Second World.’

… When at last they emerged into the Second World they looked quite different. They were animals that somewhat resembled dogs, coyotes and bears. There was fur on their bodies, their fingers were webbed, and they had tails. They lived in the Second World and were happy at first. But because they did not have any understanding they grew bitter and warred upon one another, even eating one another. Tawa saw how the creatures of his Second World were living. He saw that they did not grasp the meaning of life. And so again he sent Spider Grandmother to lead them on another journey.

While they travelled, Tawa created the Third World. He made the atmosphere a little lighter and gave them water to moisten their fields. When the creatures followed Spider Grandmother into the Third World they discovered their bodies had changed again. Their fur, their webbed fingers and their tails had disappeared. Spider Grandmother said to them: ‘Now you are no longer merely creatures. You are people. Tawa has given you this place so that you may live in harmony and forget all evil. Do not injure one another. Remember that Tawa created you out of Endless Space, and try to understand the meaning of things.’

… The people made their villages. They planted corn. They lived on. They were in harmony, and they were grateful to the Sun Spirit who had created them and given them a new world to live in. Yet things were not perfect. There was a chill in the air, and the light was only grayness. Spider Grandmother came and taught people how to weave blankets and cloth to keep their bodies warm. She taught the women how to make pots out of clay so that they could store water and food. But the pots could not be baked and they broke easily. And the corn did not grow very well because warmth was lacking.

Then one day a hummingbird came to where the people were working in their fields. The people asked, ‘Why are you here?’ The hummingbird answered, ‘I have been sent by my master.’ They said, ‘Who is your master?’

The bird replied, ‘He is Masauwu, Ruler of the Upper World, Caretaker of the Place of the Dead and the Owner of Fire. He has observed how you live here, and he says, ‘The crops do not grow well because the people do not have warmth.” The people said, ‘Yes, it is true. Warmth is lacking.’ The hummingbird said, ‘I have been sent to teach you the secret of warmth.’ And he gave them the secret, showing them how to create fire with a fire drill. After that he departed.

Now that the people had the knowledge of fire, they gathered grass and wood and made fires around their fields, and the warmth made their corn grow… They learned the secret of baking pottery… Those who had received the secret of fire from Masauwu’s messenger became known as the Firewood or Fire People. They said, ‘Masauwu is our relative.’ Now things were better in the Third World.

It was the powakas, or sorcerers, who brought disruption and conflict among the people. They made medicine to injure those whom they envied or disliked. Worse yet, they turned the people’s mind from virtuous things. The younger people grew disrespectful of the older. Husbands sought other women, and wives sought other men. Instead of caring for their fields, men spent their time in the kivas gambling. And instead of grinding corn, women went to the kivas to join them. Children wandered about unclean and uncared for, and babies cried for milk… Dissension spread everywhere. Instead of seeking to understand the meaning of life, many began to believe that they had created themselves.

In the beginning , life in the Third World had been good. But because people succumbed to the evil unleashed by the powakas, things began to change. The cornstalks in the fields withered before the ears were formed. The flowing rivers moved more sluggishly and the springs dried up. Clouds drifted over the fields but did not release their rain. Squash and melon stopped growing, and sickness came into many houses.

Now, those who had not forgotten that Tawa was their father worried greatly about the way things were going. Night after night they met in the kivas to discuss the corruption that was spreading in the Third World. They encouraged the lazy to work, admonished women for their promiscuous ways, threatened the powakas with punishment and sought to create order, yet nothing changed. There was evil and chaos all around them.

Tawa saw what was happening to the world he had made. He called Goyeng Sowuhti, Spider Grandmother, and sent her to the people with a message. Spider Grandmother… entered a kiva where the people were gathered. She said, ‘Tawa, the Sun Spirit, is displeased with what he has created. The powakas have made you forget what you should have remembered. Therefore all people of good heart should go away from this place and leave the evil behind.’ The people said to one another, ‘Where can we go? Is there another place?’ But they did not know of another place anywhere, and they were troubled.

Then an old man said, ‘Have you not heard footsteps in the sky, as though someone is walking there?’ And other old men replied, ‘Yes, there has been someone walking above us up there. We have heard it many times when the air was still.’ Other people said, ‘Let us discover what is there. Let us send a messenger to investigate things…’

So began the search for the ‘hole in the sky’, the doorway to the Upper World. The chiefs resolve to send messengers to seek the passage, and contact whoever lived ‘up there’. Eventually a catbird finds the way.

So the catbird flew up and passed through the opening in the sky… He came to a place of sand and mesas. He saw large fires burning alongside gardens of squash, melons and corn. Beyond the gardens was a single house made of stone. A person was sitting there, his head down, sleeping. The catbird alighted nearby and waited. The person awoke and raised his head. His eyes were sunken in deeply, there was no hair on his head, and his face was seared by burns and encrusted with dried blood. Across the bridge of his nose and his cheekbones two black lines were painted.  Around his neck were two heavy necklaces, one made of four strands of turquoise, the other of bones…

The catbird recognises Masauwu, Spirit of Death, the Owner of Fire and Master of the Upper World. The catbird explains the state the Lower World is in, infested with evil, and that many people wish to come and live in the Upper World. “The people of good heart ask for your permission to enter the Upper World and build their villages here.”

Masauwu said, ‘You see how it is in this place. There is no light, only grayness here. There is no warmth, and I must build fires to make my crops grow. But there is land and water. If the people wish to come, let them come.’

The catbird left Masauwu and returned to the opening through which he had passed. He went down to where the chiefs and the medicine men were waiting. They asked him, ‘Did you arrive there and find the one who walks in the sky?’

The catbird explains what he saw, and Masauwu’s willingness to have the people come to the Upper World.

Hearing this, the chief of Fire People spoke. He said, ‘Masauwu is our spirit. We are the ones to whom he sent the secret of fire. He is our relative. Therefore we are willing to go.’ Others said, ‘Yes, let all of us who wish to escape from evil go there. The Fire People can lead us and speak for us to Masauwu. Let us prepare for the journey.’

It was agreed, then, but the chiefs and medicine men looked upward, saying, ‘How shall we ever reach the sipapuni, the doorway in the sky?’

Once again Goyeng Sowuhti, Spider Grandmother, comes to the rescue, with her young grandsons, the warrior gods Pokanghoya and Polongahoya. She sends her grandsons to find chipmunk, the planter.

Spider Grandmother said to the chipmunk, ‘It is you who have been chosen to make a path for the people into the sky. For this you will always be remembered.’ And she explained what had to be done.

The chipmunk planted a sunflower seed in the center of the plaza. By the power of singing the people made it grow. If they stopped to catch their breath, the sunflower stopped growing, and Spider Grandmother called out, ‘Sing! Sing!’ As soon as they started to sing again, the sunflower continued growing. In time the sunflower stalk reached toward the sky, but just as it was about to pass through the sipapuni it bent over from the weight of its blossom.

Then the chipmunk planted a spruce seed, then a pine seed, and all failed to reach the sipapuni.

Once more the chipmunk planted. This time it was a bamboo. The people sang hard and made the bamboo grow straight and tall… Spider Grandmother went back and forth exhorting the people to sing the bamboo into the sky. Thus it went on. The people began to fear that they did not have breath enough to do what was required of them. But finally Spider Grandmother called out, ‘It is done! The bamboo has passed through the sipapuni!’

The road to the Upper World was finished, and the people rested. Spider Grandmother spoke, telling of the things to come. She said, ‘The journey will be long and difficult. When we reach the Upper World, that will be only a beginning. Things there are not like things here. You will discover new ways of doing things. During the journey you must try  to discover the meaning of life and learn to distinguish good from evil. Tawa did not intend for you to live in the midst of chaos and dissension. Only those of good heart may depart from the Third World. The powakas and all who perform wicked deeds must stay behind. As we go up the bamboo to the Upper World, see that no one carries evil medicine in his belt. See that no powakas go with us. Leave your pots and grinding stones behind. Up above you will make more of these things. Carry nothing that has to be held in your hands, for you will need your hands for climbing. When we have arrived in the Upper World I will tell you more about what is expected of you. Meanwhile, remember this: In the Upper World you must learn to be true humans.’

… The people prepared, and on the fourth day they gathered at the foot of the bamboo. The chiefs stood in front – the village chief, the crier chief, the singer chief and the war chief. Behind them the people stood waiting for the journey to begin… Spider Grandmother went up the bamboo first, followed by the boy warrior gods. The people moved toward the bamboo to begin to climb. But now the chief of the Fire People protested, saying, ‘Wait. We are the ones who are entitled to go first, for Masauwu is our special benefactor. We shall take the lead.’ The others deferred to the Fire People. After the Fire People began their ascent, whoever could get to the bamboo took his turn. The mockingbird fluttered around the bamboo, calling out, ‘Pashumayani! Pashumayani! Be careful!’ This the way the people departed from the Lower World. They moved slowly upward, and in time the entire bamboo stalk was covered with human bodies.

As the first climbers emerged through the sipapuni and stepped into the Upper World, Yawpa the mockingbird stood at Spider Grandmother’s side and sorted them out. ‘You shall be a Hopi and speak the Hopi language,’ he said to one. ‘You shall be a Navajo and speak the Navajo language,’ he said to another. ‘You shall be an Apache and speak the Apache language,’ he said to a third. He assigned every person to a tribe and a language, and to each tribe he gave direction to go in its migrations. He named the Paiutes, the Zunis, the Supais, the Pimas, the Utes, the Comanches, the Sioux, and the White Men…

More people were coming up the bamboo stalk. Finally the chiefs decided that “all those who chose to depart from evil are here. Therefore, let no more come through the sipapuni.”

The village chief went to the opening and called down, ‘You who are still climbing, turn and go back. It is because of you that we chose to leave and come to the Upper World. Do not follow us. You are not wanted here.’

But the climbers persisted, saying that they also wanted to be in the Upper World. So the warrior gods, Pokanghoya and Polongahoya, grasped the bamboo stalk and pulled its roots from the ground. They shook it and all those clinging to it fell back into the Lower World like seeds falling from ripe grass. The chiefs said, ‘Now we are secure from the evil ones. Let us make camp.’ The people camped near the sipapuni and rested.

From: The Fourth World of the Hopis, The Epic Story of the Hopi Indians as Preserved in their Legends and Traditions, Harold Courlander, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, © 1971 by Harold Courlander

Image: Tim Nicola, Woman With Shawl, ca. 1992, Alabaster Marble, Courtesy Tucson Museum of Art

 

Palatkwapi #AtoZAprilChallenge

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Harold Courlander retells the story of the creation and destruction of Palatkwapi.

“Since the beginning of things much time had passed. People had journeyed from one place to another, built villages, abandoned them, following the instructions of their wise men and the signs that appeared in the sky. Somewhere far, far to the south of where the Hopis now live, a band calling themselves Patkiwoema, the Patki people, moved through the wilderness… At last they came to the place they called Palatkwapi… where they became known as the Water Clan… Life was good to them. Their corn matured, there was always water in the nearby river, the rain fell and there was plenty of game. The older people, however, did not forget the sipapuni [place of emergence in the Hopi tradition, where people migrated from the Third to the Fourth World] and the meaning of life. In their songs they asked, ‘Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here?’… Yet while some people recalled these things, there were many who did not think of them anymore.

Palatkwapi… then grew large, and by the time it was old there were numerous persons in the village who rejected virtue… Evil and corruption entered the village. Instead of gathering in the kivas to examine the meaning of life, men and women used the kivas to play totolospi, kokotukwi and other gambling games. They neglected their fields and forgot to make pahos for the gods. Young people abandoned respect for older people and old ways… Married women accepted he company of men who were not their husbands, lying with them wherever it was convenient. A shadow seemed to be falling over Palatkwapi.”

The village chief, the kikmongwi, and the leaders of the clans then attempt to warn the people of the consequences of their bad behavior. “Unless Palatkwapi returns to a good way of life it will cease to be a living village.” After a while people forget about the warning and resume their bad ways. “The kikmongwi and the clan chiefs were distressed, not knowing what to do next. Now, the kikmongwi was considered the father of the village, and his wife was considered the mother of the people. They were expected to demonstrate by example the virtuous way of life. But the kikmongwi’s wife succumbed to the evil around her. And when the kikmongwi discovered her lying with other men he was aroused to great anger. He said, “Palatkawi has returned to the chaos of the Third World [before sipapuni and the exodus to the Fourth World when people left the evil behind them]. Now we are back where we began.”

Helped by his nephew the chief then invokes Masauwu, the spirit of Death and Master of the Upper World. Alas the people kill the chief’s nephew. “They felt a foreboding. Nevertheless, the ones who valued pleasure above a good life went to do the things they had become accustomed.” The people had buried the body of the nephew on the plaza, leaving just one hand protruding from the earth, four fingers pointing upward. On the third following morning only the little finger was pointing up. “Seeing this, the people of Palatkwapi understood that there were forces at work that could not be turned back, and they became afraid.

On the fourth morning when they came to the plaza the sun was red, and though there were no clouds in the sky the light was subdued. They looked at the place where the body was buried and saw that the last finger was turned down, marking the end of the cycle of four. There was a rumbling in the distance. The sound grew louder as it came closer. The earth began to shake. Large stones slid from their foundations and the walls of the houses cracked. The building began to crumble and fall. Out of the gray cloudless sky rain poured down, and a cold wind swept through the plaza. The people of Palatkwapi fled to their houses seeking refuge… but water began to flood through their fireplaces, washing through the rooms and doorways… Where once the people had danced in the plaza there was now a deep pond. From the earth underneath this spot,where the kikmongwi’s nephew had been buried, the head of the great water serpent Balolokong appeared. Balolokongs’ head reared higher and higher as his body emerged out of the earth. On the back of his head was a single horn like the one worn by the young man who had been interred there.  Balolokong’s eyes turned this way and that, surveying the crumbling walls of Palatkwapi. The people fled in terror, but there was no ore sanctuary in the village, which by now was submerged in the surging water. In the flight to the safety of high ground outside the village some children were lost or swept away, and some of the old and the crippled were left behind.”

The survivors found refuge among rocks and caves. “The kikmongwi and the clan chiefs discussed what might be done to quiet Balolokong. They agreed that prayer offering must be made… They chose a boy and a girl to carry out this mission [to take the pathos back to Palatkwapi].”

“And now the clan leaders called the survivors together, and the Chief of the Water Clan, who was also the kikmongwi, addressed them in this way: ‘We are here among the rocks and caves. Our village, Palatkwapi, we may not go back to it any more, for it is a ruin and a cursed place that will be haunted until the end of time by the evil deeds that were committed there. The chiefs said over and over again, ‘Do not forget who you are and why we are here’. But the people did not want to remember. Therefore we must now begin again at the beginning as we did when we came out of the Third World. Palatkwapi is dead to us. It will be covered with wind-blown sand, and the writings we have put on the rocks will be weathered away and become invisible. As it was at the sipupani, so it is now’… This is how the people departed from Palatkwapi.”

Image: Paho, “road” or “path”, courtesy University of Idaho

 

Oraibi #AtoZAprilChallenge

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Oraibi, whose original name is Ojaibi – Round Rock  – is an old Hopi village on Third Mesa. Marshall Trimble (“Arizona: a Cavalcade History“) writes that “Old Oraibi, on Third mesa, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in America, dating back to before AD 1200.” The region surrounding the Black Mesa, 2,500 square miles of the now Hopi Reservation area surrounded by Navajo country, has been settled since before the time of Christ.

Oraibi witnessed several tragedies in the history, and oral tradition, of the “Peaceful People”. Trimble again: “The first whites to visit Hopiland were soldiers from Coronado‘s exhibition in 1540 during his quest for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold… In their pursuit of treasure other Spanish explorers, including Espejo, Farfán, and Oñate, all visited the mesas in the late 1500s.”

Harold Courlander (“The Fourth World of the Hopis“) tells the story of the arrival of the Castillas in Oraibi. “The Castillas demanded food offerings constantly, and many families had to give up a share of their corn, squash and melons. By this time the priests had a lot of sheep that had been sent to them from Santa Fe. They made the Hopis build large stone corrals for them. The Hopis had few sheep, the Castillas had many. The people became discouraged about the way life was going. They did not plant as much as in the old days, and some of them neglected their fields. They were tired of the heavy work they had to do for the Castillas. They were tired of hearing the priests say that the kachinas [representation of the spirits in traditional Hopi ceremonies] were something bad. And they grew angry when they discovered that the Castillas were taking Hopi women into their house and abusing them. Talking together in the kivas at night they say, ‘Something must be done. We cannot go on living this way’.” Eventually the Spaniards were driven out in the Great Revolt of 1680 by the Pueblo tribes of what is now New Mexico, and of course the Hopi clans. “Beams from the church were used to construct a new kiva [ceremonial chamber] at Oraibi, still in use today.”

Often the Navajos raided Hopi villages. Courlander tells of one such attack on Oraibi. The tradition says that, at a crucial moment in the battle, “the warriors gods, Pokanghoya and Polongahoya, [went] out toward the enemy with lightning arrows in their bows… There was a great flash and a sound like thunder, and many Navajos who had been riding a moment before were now lying scattered and lifeless on the battlefield… The main Navajo party turned away and rode northward. Seeing this, the raiders looting Oraibi abandoned the stocks of corn they had piled up, mounted their horses and departed.”

Image: Originally uploaded by Promking (Transferred by JaumeBG) – Originally uploaded on en.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17815248 – Very old abandoned house and panoramic view on the outskirts of Oraibi village.