Menonite church at Orayvi established in the late 1800s
AD, once stood as a way to convert Hopis to another religion.
Photo by: Carl Onsae
On June 13, 2000, Bishop Donald E. Pelotte, Bishop of the Diocese
of Gallup, NM of the Catholic Church delivered an apology from the
Pope to Hopi religious leaders and cultural advisors in the chambers
of the Hopi Tribal Council in Kykotsmovi. The Popes apology
sought forgiveness for the abuses Franciscan missionaries had inficted
on Hopi people during the mission period (1629-1680)---abuses documented
in Moquis and Kastiilam: Hopis, Spaniards, and the Trauma of History,
a collaborative project between The Hopi Tribe and the University
of Arizona. Those abuses included the forced labor of Hopi men,
the suppression of Hopi religion, and, worst of all, the rape of
Hopi religious leaders and cultural advisors sat silently as the
bishop addressed them. There was awkward silence that fell upon
the gathering when the bishop concluded his apology. Then one of
the Hopi men stood up and addressed the bishop. Apology not
accepted. I dont accept your apology, he stated. Several
men rose and expressed similar statements, adding that the historical
trauma inficted by the Spanish on the Hopi people during the mission
period still haunted Hopi lives today. One by one, Hopi religious
and political leaders added reasons why they could not accept the
apology. Besides, if there was ever going to be a full reconciliation,
then the Pope himself should deliver the apology. Hopi also stated
that if the men of the Church were serious about correcting past
wrongs, then it should look into Hopi treaty rights, specifcally
land and water rights guaranteed by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo,
which are now at the heart of the concerns facing the Hopi people.
The bishop agreed to take their messages to the Pope and look into
the request for help. The Hopi Tribe has not heard anything from
the bishop or the Church since then.
Having witnessed this event, I asked myself, What if the
Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was not successful? What if the Hopi people
werent able to drive the Spaniards out of their villages and
their homelands? What if the Hopi practiced Catholicism instead
of the Hopi way of life? By asking myself these questions,
I slowly realized the signifcance of the Pueblo Revolt in the history
of the Hopi people. Unlike other Pueblo people, we dont have
Catholic churches in our communities or Hispanic last names. We
have been free to practice our religion and our customs since 1680.
We were never reconquered.
Another question that I asked myself is about the behavior of my
own people. Have the Hopi people taken for granted what our ancestors
fought and died for, the abuses they endured, the sacrifces they
have made and losses they suffered? In my time with the Hopi Cultural
Preservation Offce, I have witnessed changes in the behaviors of
the Hopi people, including my own. We act like we are entitled.
We behave differently at our own Katsina ceremonies. We fght amongst
ourselves instead of being unifed as a people. Moreover, the most
offensive part of all of this is that we put it on YouTube and other
social media outlets for the world to see. We need to protect and
safeguard what we have so that our way of life will endure in our
hearts, mind, and spirit.
In 1629, the Spaniards transformed the Hopi way of life by inaugurating
the Mission system in the three major Hopi villages of Awatovi,
Songòopavi, and Orayvi. Everything about the mission system
was an assault on the Hopi people. Hopi men were forced to carry
beams to build mission churches from Nuvatukyaovi. Some missionaries
sent husbands away to gather water from distant springs so they
could rape their wives or take advantage of their daughters. No
wonder the Hopi term for missionaries is Totatsim, a tyrant,
dictator, or demanding person interested only in personal gain.
The Hopis also viewed the Spaniards as Nanaönt
or Naöna, lazy.
The key to survival is accomplished through hard work, yet both
missionaries and encomenderos (those who eld grants of encomiendas,
the labor system) had the right to extract tribute---2.6 bushels
of corn and one cotton manta each year---from Hopi households, even
during drought years when Hopis barely produced enough food to feed
themselves. They also had to work for up to three days a week tending
to mission felds and mission herds of sheep and cattle. Do you know
how much water is needed to successfully cultivate cotton? Hopis
were punished severely if they failed to meet those demands.
As the drought worsened because Hopis could not perform their ceremonies,
Hopi men would sneak away from the villages to rehearse songs, ceremonies,
and religious practices so they would not be lost and forgotten.
And after one Hopi man from Orayvi named Sitkoyma sponsored a Niman
ceremony in the Katsina Buttes, the missionary discovered his idolatry,
whipped him in the plaza, and poured scalding turpentine on his
wounds. After Sitkoymas brutal murder, Hopis began to discuss
whether they needed to take stronger action. They met with other
Pueblo people and fnally decided that the only way to preserve the
Hopi way of life was to kill the missionaries and other Spaniards.
Every Hopi person knows that it takes hard work to survive, incorporating
the teachings of life and reciprocity we were given long ago. Survival
requires a lifelong commitment that involves faith, prayer, humility
and hard work. Our ancestors endured a lot for us to be where we
are today, to carry on our way of life as we have been taught by
them through the generations, and the right to be called Hopisinom.
Tomorrow when you wake, pray and greet the Sun, ask Taawa to deliver
a message to our ancestors, a message of Askwalí/Kwakwhá
to those who had the courage to stand up to the Totatsim,
who fought for and protected our unique way of life for each of
us as Hopisinom today. Let us not take our Hopi way of life for
granted. Continue to live in faith, prayer, humility and hard work
the best we can each day so that our children and future generations
will learn and receive it just as we received it from our ancestors.
Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, Interim Manager
Hopi Cultural Preservation Offce
Hopi Tutuveni Re-publishes Guest
Romalita Laban, Managing Editor - Hopi Tutuveni
Kykotsmovi, Ariz. August 10, 2021 and
while reading the Guest Editorial - "Apology Not Accepted -
Hopi Religion, a Religion That Was Never Conquered" by Stewart
B. Koyiyumptewa published in Hopi Tutuveni Volume 26 Number 12 published
Tuesday, August 7, 2018 which follows, is still very relevant on
this Pueblo Revolt Day 2021.
It came to mind that the term "Totatsim
- a tyrant, dictator, or demanding person interested only in personal
gain" referenced by Koyiyumptewa back in 2018, has also been
used recently by some Hopi Tribal Councilmen during 2020-2021 Council
Sessions. In the sessions Councilmen used the term in comparing
and describing behaviors they have been observing of some administrators
during the Hopi Tribal Government Shutdown. The Shutdown has been
a response and result of the current world wide pandemic while humanity
has been "fghting a foreign enemy of sorts" - the Corona
Interesting comparisons which infuenced a decision
to share the editorial once again and be reminded of the closing
remarks by Stewart at the end of the article.