Book: Truth of a Hopi
Author: Edmund Nequatewa

Truth of a Hopi By Edmund Nequatewa

Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 135
Publication Date: 1936

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This is one of the rarest types of ethnographic documents, one actually written by a native American. The bulk of this book--by far the most valuable section--covers the historical legends of the Hopi, from a Hopi viewpoint. The Hopi 'theory' (Nequatewa's word) was that the 'Bahana' (the white people) emerged from the under-world alongside the Hopi, and went off in search of the truth. Someday they would return and live in harmony with the Hopi, bringing wisdom and great abundance.

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ALAIKSAI!--Attention. Before anybody's memory the Hopi lived in the underworld, which was the original place of all human life. Here, in the beginning, all life and everything was good in peace and happy. The people were governed by the chiefs (Mongwi), village criers (Chakmongwi), priests (Momwit), and high priests and all their religious rites were ruled by the high priests. The people were classed as common, middle, and first class.

The time came when the common and middle class of people grew wise to the doings of the priests and the high priests. All the days of their lives these poor people had been cheated of their family rights by the upper classes of the people. At times the wives of the lower class were visited by these men and by the priests and high priests, while the poor husbands of the women were away. Now all this kept on from bad to worse.

By this time the wives of the priests and the higher class of men also grew wise to what had been going on for all these years, and they were greatly troubled. Then, gossip, quarreling and fighting started between the men and women. Some priests said that it was a joy to cheat and steal another man's wife and that they would pray hard and earnest for prosperity. The women in return said, "If this is so and true, would it be more joyful to you men if we did the same to you as you have done to us? Would you then pray harder still for prosperity?"

This question was, of course, asked by decent women brought up before guilty men and at this, every heart was troubled. The women turned their husbands away. They had no place to go but to their gathering places, called kivas, which were the underground houses--meeting places at times of ceremonies. In these kivas some hearts were sad and some did not seem to care so very much. They were all waiting and watching to see who would leave the kiva first to go to their houses to see if their wives would refuse to let them in. Some women had declared that they would not let their husbands in, so they put their belongings outside of their doors.

The men left the kiva one by one, going to their homes to try their wives, but finding their things outside, they had to go to the homes of their relatives. Even there, they were not welcomed and were not invited to cat, so they were forced to take two or three ears of corn to the kiva to roast. That was all they had for their meal on that day. The night came on. What were they going to do? This was the question. Some said they would stay in the kivas and live on roasted corn as long as they could, thinking that the women might get over this trouble and their anger.

While the wives were still feeling strong against their men, they called a council. Every woman was present. At this council it was decided that the men would be falsely forgiven and would be taken back by every wife. All this was followed out and the husbands were made happy. But knowing all this, the chief, Yai-hiwa, and village crier, and their families, were greatly troubled and were sad. A thought came to the chief's mind of what he should do and how he must punish his people. Now with all this he was troubled in mind. About this time, when the men had been falsely forgiven, the women were going around and running wild after the unmarried boys, so that they might break the hearts of their husbands and so be revenged. Their families were neglected and their fires and cookings were left unattended. Among both men and women there was not a soul who could be happy in such sinful days, for there was murder, suicide, and every other wicked thing that made the days darker and darker.

All this worry and sorrow was on the chief. What could be done? Nobody knew. So he went calling on his wise men (Posi-wiwaimkum) personally, and broken hearted as he was, he could not help but shed tears at every call. These wise men were named Kotiwa, Tani, Sootiwa, Komay, Seytiwa, Nawiki, and Kowisa, and they were the best of all wise men, with high ideals. But everything was for the chief to say in those days, so he asked every wise man to come to his counsel on the fourth day, out at a distant place away from the people. The day came and the chief was out early that morning. With his bag of tobacco and pipes he was waiting for his wise men to come to the appointed place. One by one they came, each with his bag of tobacco and his pipe. The village crier was the last to arrive, and now everyone had come who was expected. Here they kindled a fire and being weary and sad they were rather quiet, sitting around their fire. The chief filled up his pipe with tobacco, lit it and smoked, then passed it to Yai-owa, the village crier. He puffed the smoke four times, then looked up to the chief, saying, "Father." In return the chief said, "My son." The pipe was passed on around in the same manner to every man. After the chief's pipe was all smoked out, every man filled his own pipe. Every pipe was first handed to the chief. Here they had their fatherly and brotherly smoke.