Chapter XIX. Of Hotavila, the Eighth Pueblo of Moqui, and how it Looked Blackly at us


Up: Contents Previous: Chapter XVIII. Of the Life in Moqui; and a Hint of its Latter Day Troubles Next: Chapter XX. Of Walpi, and the Snake Dance There


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READING your evening paper, some five years ago, in your smoking-jacket and slippers, you may have noticed a despatch of half a dozen lines—your Eastern journal would hardly have spared it more space—about a Hopi uprising in Arizona, and the soldiers from Fort Wingate being sent to quell it. That is what soldiers are for, out West, so you probably forgot all about the incident as quickly as read, and turned to the more important matter of the divorce scandal elaborately reported on the same page.

The uprising was not against this Government, but was a family revolution among the Hopi of Oraibi pueblo whom the Government's educational policy had divided into two factions. One party, popularly known as the "Friendlies," feeling it


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useless to contend against the power of Washington, was for accepting the Government's plans in toto and grafter-like, getting anything else it could for itself out of the United States. The other faction, called the "Hostiles," was for entire independence of the United States Government, wanting no favours and unwilling to accept any, asking only the reasonable privilege of continuing undisturbed the mode of life their forefathers had found good.

The crisis came on September 7, 1906. At that time the population of Oraibi was in round numbers one thousand persons, and about half the families were enrolled in each faction. When the break came, each party tried to oust the other from the pueblo, not with weapons or military tactics, but by the homely, old way of pushing and pulling, catch-as-catch-can. The "Hostiles" were worsted and, without disputing the issue, proceeded five miles along the high wedge of land on which Oraibi stands, to Hotavila Spring, where, in the succeeding months, they built for themselves a new pueblo. This body of separatists, standing for the principle of Hopi-land for the Hopis, were looked upon by the Indian Bureau


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as disturbers of the public peace and promoters of trouble and the more determined among them were either put to hard labour for several months on the public roads of Arizona, or jailed for periods varying from a few months to three years.1

Here, then, was something new in pueblos, and we felt a keen interest to see this little cradle of liberty. Oraibi was prehistoric in 1540; the villages of the First and Second Mesas, too, run well back in the centuries and look it; but here is a chance to see a pueblo only just out of its long clothes. But, when we announced our intention of making the trip thither, our host the trader, an Americanised gentleman of Spanish descent, married to a California Indian, lifted his arms in wonderment, and his half-consumed cigarette fell from his paralysed lips. He was a rotund, merry man, and spoke with such intensity that the perspiration stood out in beads on his face.

‘‘Hombre!’’ he cried, "and take the lady! Why's the reason you go there? It's just a wilderness,


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and the road there, my dear sir—it is desert, desert, desert, and a very devil of a hill, deep to the hub in sand—and then more desert, and what then? Nothing, my dear sir, you would not see better right here at Oraibi. Oh, yes, they are an all right kind of people, and independent as any Americans that ever were. Why, my dear sir, let me tell, when they want to do trading do you suppose they come to my store where the other Oraibis trade? No, my dear sir, you bet! They go right by with their burros and straight on seventy miles across the desert to Winslow, seventy miles, mind you, and seventy back! What do you know about that now, my dear sir, for spirit—and in an Indian, too! Madre de Dios, it's money out of my pocket and I like a silver peso as well as the next man; but—say—they're the stuff.

‘‘That's why you want to see them? Well, of course, that's different. Oh, you can't miss the road, my dear sir. It runs between two hills like, and you could n't get off it if you tried. If you must spend a quarter, I'll send a Moqui runner along to start you right; but it's just giving the money away, my dear sir, just giving it away.’’


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And he shook his head bitterly at the thought of such American waste.

We had travelled enough to be skeptical of the road that cannot be missed; so we bespoke the Moqui runner for sunrise the next morning, and when we got him, we raised his wages and kept him all the way to Hotavila and back again. Never was money better invested; for the road, so called, was, in many places, hardly more than a faint waggon-track in the sand, with many divergencies to corn lands and melon patches; and, moreover, the new pueblo was, by its position, so cleverly hidden from the direction of our approach to it that we had no hint of its existence until we were immediately upon it, clinging like a swallow's nest to the mesa edge, overlooking the Painted Desert.

If this little adobe town were a ruin like a bit of ancient Rome, if it had behind it some heroic legend as of another Horatius filled with the love of country defending with his life the birthright of a people now long dead and buried, I suppose it would not be considered sentimental to do reverence to the spot, or unpatriotic to sympathise with its people's stand for liberty. But, being


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only an Indian village on a hot, hot hillside in twentieth-century Arizona, the case is essentially different, is it not?

For almost the first time in a long acquaintance with Pueblos, we found ourselves distinctly unwelcome visitors. Frightened women gathered their children into the houses at the sight of our white faces; a few men, with averted looks, strode past us on their way to cultivate their crops of beans, corn, and melons, which we had seen growing on the mesa; others watched us suspiciously from the shadow of doorways and street corners. It goes against the grain, however, with the Pueblo Indian to be inhospitable; he is by nature a sociable, happy-hearted being, and though tenacious of his own ways, he likes to make strangers welcome in his home. So, as the day wore on, and we neither attempted to kidnap children nor to open negotiations for a day school, the atmosphere cleared. We had shells and candy, coloured magazine pictures and tobacco, and as we were neither insistent nor aggressive nor flippant, and remained contentedly in the streets while closed doors confronted us, smiles by degrees took the place of scowls and considerable interest


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centred in us as bearers of such delectable presents and probable buyers of the flat baskets in the making of which the Third Mesa women have long been specialists. So, after all, we had a happy day at Hotavila, and drove off, at last, with many pleasant memories.

But we could not forget the black looks of the first hour or two, and, stopping shortly afterwards at the pleasant home of the Government Field Matron below Oraibi, we asked to know something further concerning the relations of the whites to the separation of the two factions at Oraibi. She was glad of our interest—a sweet-faced woman, dwelling in the neatest and cleanest of houses, which, if an Indian were to be moved by example, would surely have been an irreproachable object-lesson of American household ideals. She offered us comfortable rocking-chairs and brought a pitcher of cool water, and as we sat on the shady porch with the pleasant rustle of cottonwood leaves in our ears, and looking up at the grey, old pueblo on its sunny heights far above us, she answered our questions in her soft-toned voice.

‘‘

I certainly am glad you got over to Hotavila. They are nice people over there. In fact, all these Indians are nice. I am very fond of them. I was really sorry when they had to separate. But, after all, it was better. You see those people over at Hotavila are very obstinate and won't let us do a thing for them. They keep saying that they do not want any help; but really, you know, they ought to have it. The Commissioner says it is due to the Indian children to have the same chance as the white children have; and I think the Government ought to make the people take what is best for them. You see, they don't like the white people at all, though I can't see why, when we want to uplift them and do the best for their own welfare.

A Beau Brummel of Hótaville.


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The great trouble came after the separation, when the troops were sent over to make the children go to school. The Hostiles, as they call them, had just been put out of the old village, which had always been their home, and had started in to live at this new place, and they had not more than got it under way when it was decided by the Washington authorities to send some of the men to prison and put most of the rest to hard labour on the roads over beyond Keam's Cañon, because of their rebelliousness. That left hardly anybody


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but women and children in the new village, and it was hard enough times for them to get along, with winter coming on soon; but, about that time, as the women would not put the children to school, as, of course, they should have done, the troops were sent to bring them by force. I had to go and help the soldiers, as I knew all the people, and it was about as disagreeable a piece of work as ever I had to do. The mothers were perfectly frantic. They hid the babies and children in inside rooms and under flour sacks and beneath beds, and shook their fists in my face, actually, and told me they had thought I was their friend, but that I was nothing but a traitor, and held on to the children until the soldiers had to pull them away. Of course, poor things, they did not know where they were going, and they certainly do love their children. It did seem too bad.

’’

There was a soft cry in the house. The Field Matron excused herself and went in. Presently she came out holding in her arms a beautiful baby of, perhaps, a year old. The tiny arms clasped her neck, the little head, with its loose curls, lay on her shoulder in satisfied content.


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One motherly arm held him firmly, and with the other she stroked the child's head, as she said: ‘‘Must you go? Well, come again before you leave these parts. It is real pleasant to see some new white faces now and then.’’

We understood better now the black looks at Hotavila.

The white visitor to Moqui is quite at liberty, if he so desire, to drive his panting team up the interminable, sandy hill to Hotavila, and walk about the neat streets of this little pueblo of independence, the last stand of conservative Moqui, still looking off upon the immemorial mystery of the Painted Desert out of which, ages ago, the fathers of the Hopis came; but he must not be surprised if he meets with sullen looks from barred doorways and if women hide their babies away as he passes. And it is a trip well worth the taking; for here at Hotavila, and only less so at the neighbouring pueblo of Shimópovi, its close second in conservativeness, one sees the best of Hopi life to-day. The peaceful, happy simplicity of their ancient way of living, poor in material advantages though it be, makes a remarkable contrast to the conditions at some of


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the other villages where Government influence has undisputed sway—as, for instance, in the Government's "model settlement" under the Oraibi cliffs, where the unrest, sickness, aimlessness of purpose, and general misery which were painfully apparent among its people when the writer visited it, were more suggestive of the slums of a great city than anything that seemed possible in the sweet air and under the turquoise sky of Arizona.

Walpi, like a mediæval fortress, on the edge of the Painted Desert.


Notes

1. Since the foregoing was written, a few families of the "Hostile" party, who eventually consented to send their children to school and otherwise submit themselves to the Government's regulations, have established a little village of their own, called Bácabi about five miles north-east of Oraibi.

Up: Contents Previous: Chapter XVIII. Of the Life in Moqui; and a Hint of its Latter Day Troubles Next: Chapter XX. Of Walpi, and the Snake Dance There




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