CHAPTER VIII. THE HOPI (OR MOQUI).


Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER VII. THE WALLAPAI. Next: CHAPTER IX. THE HOPI (OR MOQUI) (Continued).


[page 138]

Location—History—Missions and Missionaries—Pueblos—Social Organization—Story of Origin—Legend of Building of Villages—Mode of Marriage—Hospitality—Legends and Folklore—Tininina, or Social Dance—Religion.

HOPI (contraction of Hópitu, “peaceful ones,” or Hopitushínumu, “peaceful all people”; their own name). A body of Indians, speaking a Shoshonean dialect, occupying six pueblos on a reservation of 2,472,320 acres in northeastern part of this State. The name “Moqui,” or “Moki,” by which they have been popularly known, means “dead” in their own language, but as a tribal name it is seemingly of alien origin and of undetermined signification—perhaps from the Keresan language, whence Espejo's “Mohace” and “Mohoce” (1583), and Oñate's “Mohoqui,” 1598. Bandelier and Cushing believed the Hopi country, the later province of Tusayan, to be identical with the Totonteac of Fray Marcos de Niza.

History.—The Hopi first became known to white men in the summer of 1540, when Coronado, then at Cibola (Zuni), dispatched Pedro de Tobar and Fray Juan de Padilla to visit seven villages, constituting the province of Tusayan, toward the west or northwest. The Spaniards were not received with friendliness at first, but the opposition of the natives was

HOPI MAIDEN. WIKI-Chief of the Snake Society; Pueblo of Walpi.


[page 139]

soon overcome and the party remained among the Hopi several days, learning from them of the existence of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, which Cardenas was later ordered to visit. The names of the Tusayan towns are not recorded by Coronado's chroniclers, so that with the exception of Oraibi, Shongopovi, Mishongnovi, Walpi, and Awatobi, it is not known with certainty what villages were inhabited when the Hopi first became known to the Spaniards. Omitting Awatobi, which was destroyed in 1700 with the possible exception of Oraibi, none of these towns now occupies its 16th century site.

Francisco Sanchez Chamuscado visited Zuni in 1581 and speaks of the Hopi country as Asay or Osay, but he did not visit it on account of the snow. Two years later, however, the province was visited by Antonio de Espejo, who journeyed 28 leagues from Zuni to the first of the Hopi pueblos in four days. The Mohace, or Mohace, of this explorer consisted of five large villages, the population of one of which, Aguato (Ahuato, Zaguato-Awatobi) he estimated at 50,000, a figure perhaps twenty-five times too great. The names of the other towns are not given. The natives had evidently forgotten the horses of Tobar and Cardenas of forty-three years before, as they now became frightened at these strange animals. The Hopi presented Espejo with quantities of cotton “towels,” perhaps kilts, for which they were celebrated then as now.

The next Spaniard to visit the “Mohoqui,” was Juan de Onate, governor and colonizer of New Mexico, who took possession of the country


[page 140]

and made the Indians swear obedience and vassalage to Spain on November 15th, 1598. Their spiritual welfare was assigned to Fray Juan de Claros, but no active missions were established among the Hopi until nearly a generation later. The five villages at this time, as far as it is possible to determine them, were Aguato or Aguatuybá (Awatobi), Gaspe (Gualpe Walpi), Comupaví or Xumupamí (Shongo povi), Majananí (Mishongnovi), and Olalla or Naybf (Oraibi).

The first actual missionary work undertaken among the Hopi was in 1629, on August 20th of which year Francisco de Porras, Andres Gutierrez, Cristobal de la Concepcion, and Francisco de San Buenaventura, escorted by twelve soldiers, reached Awatobi, where the mission of San Bernardino was founded in honor of the day, followed by the establishment of missions also at Walpi, Shongopovi, Mishongnovi, and Oraibi. Porras was poisoned by the natives of Awatobi in 1633. All the Hopi missions seem to have led a precarious existence until 1680, when in the general Pueblo revolt of that year four resident missionaries were killed and the churches destroyed. Henceforward no attempt was made to re-establish any of the missions save that of Awatobi in 1700, which so incensed the other Hopi that they fell upon it in the night, killing many of its people and compelling its permanent abandonment. Before the rebellion Mishongnovi and Walpi had become reduced to visitas of the missions of Shongopovi and Oraibi respectively. At the time of the outbreak the population of Awatobi was given as


[page 141]

800, Shongopovi 500, and Walpi 1,200. Oraibi, it is said, had 14,000 gentiles before their conversion, but they were consumed by pestilence. This number is doubtless greatly exaggerated.

The pueblos of Walpi, Mishongnovi, and Shongopovi, situated in the foothills, were probably abandoned about the time of the Pueblo rebellion, and new villages built on the adjacent mesas for the purpose of defense against the Spaniards, whose vengeance was needlessly feared. The reconquest of the New Mexican pueblos led many of their inhabitants to seek protection among the Hopi toward the close of the 17th century. Some of these built the pueblo of Payupki, on the Middle mesa, but were taken back and settled in Sandia about the middle of the 18th century. About the year 1700 Hano was established on the East mesa, near Walpi, by Tewa from near Abiquiu, New Mexico, who came on the invitation of the Walpians. Here they have lived uninterruptedly, and although they have intermarried extensively with the Hopi, they retain their native speech and many of their distinctive tribal rites and customs. Two other pueblos, Sichomovi on the First mesa, built by Asa clans from the Rio Grande, and Shipaulovi, founded by a colony from Shongopovi on the Second or Middle mesa, are both of comparatively modern origin, having been established about the middle of the 18th century, or about the time the Payupki people returned to their old home. Thus the pueblos of the ancient province of Tusayan now consist of the following: Walpi, Sichomovi, and Hano, on the First or East Mesa; population in 1900,


[page 142]

205, 119 and 160, respectively, exclusive of about twenty who have established homes in the plain; total 504. Mishongnovi, Shongopovi, and Shupaulovi, on the Second or Middle mesa; estimated population 244, 225, and 126; total 595. Oraibi, on the Third or West mesa; population in 1890, 905. Total Hopi population in 1904 given as 1,878.

Social organization.—The Hopi people are divided into several phraties, consisting of numerous clans, each of which preserves its distinct legends, ceremonies, and ceremonial paraphernalia. Out of these clan organizations have sprung religious fraternities, the head men of which are still members of the dominant clan in each phraty. The relative importance of the clans varies in different pueblos; many that are extinct in some villages, are powerful in others.

Bancroft, in Volume 3 of his “Native Races,” gives the following:

“Most of the Pueblo tribes call themselves the descendants of Montezuma; the Moquis, however, have a quite different story of their origin. They believe in a great Father living where the sun rises; and in a great Mother, whose home is where the sun goes down. The Father is the father of evil, war, pestilence, and famine; but from the Mother are all joys, peace, plenty, and health. In the beginning of time the Mother produced from her western home nine races of men in the following primary forms: First, the Deer race; second, the Sand race; third, the Water race; fourth, the Bear race; fifth, the Hare race; sixth, the Prairie-wolf race; seventh, the Rattlesnake race; eighth, the Tobacco-plant


[page 143]

race; and ninth, the Reed-grass race. All these the Mother placed respectively on the spots where their villages now stand, and transformed them into the men who built the present Pueblos. These race-distinctions are still sharply kept up; for they are believed to be realities, not only of the past and present, but also of the future; every man when he dies shall be resolved into his primeval form; shall wave in the grass, or drift in the sand, or prowl on the prairie as in the beginning.”

The following legend concerning the building of the Moqui villages upon impregnable bluffs, is related by William E. Curtis in his “Children of the Sun,” 1883:

“The Moquis, who live in Arizona, seventy miles northwest of Zuni, have a legend that the earth was once a small island, inhabited by one man, whose father was the sun, and whose mother was the moon; that the gods sent a wife to him to cheer his loneliness, and that the earth grew as their family multiplied. The children became dissatisfied and restless after years, began to wander, and built up towns. Visits between them became infrequent, and finally ceased, until in generations their common ancestry was forgotten. Centuries ago a warbroke out between the Pueblo, or permanent Indians, and the wandering tribes, and the former were driven to the rocks and caves, where they built nests like wrens and swallows, erected fortifications and watch towers, dug reservoirs in the rocks to catch the rainfall, and held their enemies at bay. The besiegers were beaten back, but the hollows in the rocks were filled


[page 144]

with blood, and it poured in torrents through the canyons. It was such a victory that they dare not try again, and when the fight was over they wandered to the southward, and in the deserts of Arizona, on isolated, impregnable bluffs, they built new towns, and their descendants, the Moquis, live in them to this day.”

From the same authority is taken the following:

“The Moquis are an isolated relic of a once great nation. Their home, like Acoma, is upon a high, rocky island, separated from the rest of the world by an ocean of sand. It is a natural fortification, and can be approached only by climbing a long, narrow serpentine path in the crevices of the rocks. In Coronado's time, Moquis was known as the Province of Tusayan, and consisted of seven towns with a population of about twenty thousand. All the villages stand to-day, but the people are reduced to a mere handful. The villages occupy the entire width of a broad mesa or tableland, and, standing immediately in front of the houses, one may look down a precipice five hundred feet. On the rim of this rocky wall the children play and the goats feed. The houses are the same as those of Zuni, except that they built them of stone instead of adobe, and the customs of the two places are similar.

“Like the inhabitants of all other pueblos, the Moquis are rapidly dwindling away, and in thirty years during which civilization has known something of them their numbers have decreased from six thousand, according to the census of 1850, to one thousand six hundred and four.”


[page 145]

The Catholics, as before stated, failed to impress the Moquis, and next to attempt it were the Mormons who, according to the “Journal-Miner” of September 13th, 1869, fitted out an expedition to strengthen the “Moqui Mission which lies about eight days travel southeast of St. George, by sending W. B. Markeville, Ira Hatch, Thales Haskelf, and about twenty other brethren, armed and fitted out, to that point, to protect the Moquis from the Navahos.” This mission, like many others at the time, proved a failure, and it was several years later before the Mormons established settlements in Arizona.

Continuing Mr. Curtis says:

“The Moquis tradition is that their fathers used to live far in the North, and that long years ago barbarous tribes of Indians drove them from their houses into the mountains, where they now reside, and where they fortified and defended themselves. The Moquis houses are of the same order of architecture as the ruins of Colorado; their general form is identical, and the same material is used. The present villages are upon high, impregnable cliffs, while the ruins are all in the valleys. When the emigration took place cannot be determined, but it must have been centuries ago, as the houses of the present pueblos were old when the Spaniards found them in 1540, and were even then crumbling in decay. One evidence of the age of the present villages is that across the space between them, paths have been worn in the solid rock to a depth of several inches, and remembering that the shoes of the people are soft-soled moccasins, the


[page 146]

geologists think it must have been a thousand years.

“Dr. Tenbroek, who visited the place in 1852, placed the population of the seven Moquis pueblos at eight thousand. He says: ‘They believe in a great father who lives where the sun rises, and a great mother who lives where the sun sets. Many, many years ago their great mother brought from her home in the west nine races of men. First, the Deer race; second, the Sand race; third, the Water race; fourth, the Bear race; fifth, the Rabbit race; sixth, the Wolf race; seventh, the Rattlesnake race; eighth, the Tobacco plant race; and ninth, the Reed grass race.

“‘Having placed them here where their villages stand, she transformed them into men, who built the pueblos, and the race distinction is still kept up. One told me he was of the Sand race, and another that he was of the Rabbit race. The Governor is of the Deer race. They are firm believers in metempsychosis, and that when they die, they will resolve into their original forms and become deer, bears, etc. Shortly after the pueblos were built, the great mother came in person and brought them all the domestic animals they have, cattle, sheep, and donkeys. Their sacred fire is kept burning constantly by the old men, and they fear some great misfortune would befall them if they allowed it to be extinguished.

“‘Their mode of marriage might be introduced into civilized life. Here, instead of the swain asking the hand of the fair one, she selects the man of her fancy and then her father proposes


[page 147]

to the sire of the dusky youth. Polygamy is unknown among them, but if at any time the husband and wife do not live happily together, they are divorced and can remarry. They are a happy, simple, contented and most hospitable people. The vice of intoxication is unknown and they have no kind of fermented liquors. When a stranger visits them, the first act is to set food before him and nothing is done till he has eaten. The women are the prettiest squaws I have ever seen, and are very neat and industrious. While virgins, their hair is done up on either side of the head in rolls; after marriage they wear it in braids or loosely.’

“Dr. Edward Palmer writes: ‘In May, 1869, in company with the Rev. Vincent Colyer I visited the Moquis Indians. One night, while camping near the town, we wished some corn for our horses. The Governor being made aware of the fact, mounted the top of the house and called aloud. A movement was soon discernible, housetops and doors being occupied by listeners. The Governor repeated his call several times. Soon from every quarter corn was brought in flat baskets until more than enough was procured, for which we were expected to pay nothing, but Mr. Colyer gave them some flannel. They were surprised to see us giving corn to our horses, because it is raised with so much difficulty that they use it only for their own consumption.

“‘The Governors of the Moquis towns are accustomed to mount their housetops at night and give instructions regarding the labors of the following day. The night before we left the


[page 148]

town of Oraybi one of these harangues was made, and we were informed that the Governor had instructed all the people to go out early the next morning and kill jack rabbits, which were eating up the corn. Early the next morning the men turned out, according to orders, accompanied by the women, whose business was to take care of the game. Rabbits are an important article of food with these Indians, and their skins are cut up into clothing. The implement used in capturing them is the boomerang, which is shied at the legs of the animal.

“‘The Governor invited Mr. Colyer, Lieut. Crouse and myself to dine with him at his house. He received us cordially, showing us a silver headed ebony cane, a gift from President Lincoln. Dinner being announced, a blanket was spread upon the floor, and upon it were arranged dishes filled with dried peaches, a good supply of boiled mutton, and a large basket of corn cakes as blue as indigo, made from the meal of the blue corn. There were also some dishes filled with a sweet liquid made by dissolving the roasted center of the agave plant in water. There were neither plates, knives, forks, spoons nor napkins, but the dinner was clean, as was everything else about the house. The bread answers for both plate and spoon. You take a piece, lay a fragment of mutton and some peaches upon it, or a little of the sweet liquid, and bolt the mass, plate, spoon and all. This dinner, though prepared and cooked by Indians, of food produced entirely by themselves, tasted better than many a meal eaten by us in the border settlements, cooked by whites.’”


[page 149]

In The Eleventh Census of the United States, 1893, Thomas Donaldson gives the following in reference to the Moqui Pueblo Indians of Arizona:

“The Moqui people are rich in legends and folklore. They have their stories of giants, giantesses, hobgoblins, fairies, and all kinds of spirits, which they believe once lived and inhabited the earth in time long since gone by. Every cliff and mesa, every mountain and canyon, has some story attached to it which the natives treasure with care. All these legends, traditions, and stories are transmitted, orally, from generation to generation, with minutest exactness of circumstances and detail. A child in telling these stories is attentively listened to by its elders and quickly prompted if it makes a mistake in any particular; so we can feel assured in reading any of these legends received directly from these people that they accord with the true, literal, Indian version. These people also have their superstitions and their belief in ghosts.

“In the Butte country, south of Awatubi, there is a hole in the ground which can be descended to a great depth, with curious hieroglyphics all along down the almost perpendicular sides of the hole, which is only large enough to admit the body of a man. The Moquis never approach this hole without first scattering sacred meal and uttering prayers. Near it is a cave where it would be quite safe to cache any treasure, for so great is the fear both the Navajos and Moquis have of it that they will go a long distance to avoid passing its mouth. This cave


[page 150]

was explored by Mr. Keam and Mr. Steven, guided by Polaki, and when its remotest corners were reached they found it inhabited only by large numbers of hedgehogs.

“After their harvest their religious ceremonies begin, in which they thank the Great Spirit for blessings vouchsafed to them, and ask that the coming days be prosperous; that drought, famine and pestilence be kept away, and that the supposed ancient prosperity and mighty condition of their race be ultimately restored. It is evident that they are hard-working people, for almost every moment of their time is spent in obtaining the necessaries of life, as they are poor and in a barren country. A day now and then is appointed for sports, which only the men attend, dancing and horse-racing, the latter being the principal sport. For the horse-racing they go into the desert and select grounds at a point where they can be seen from the mesas, and when the day arrives the men all come mounted on their best ponies, dressed in a variety of costumes, some in the cast-off clothing of the white man, some in only a ‘gee’ string (breech-cloth), eagle feathers, a pair of moccasins, and an old plug hat, suggesting the story of the Georgia cavalryman's uniform; some tastefully and others most gorgeously arrayed in finery of their own invention and manufacture. When the races open, the people form two lines, facing each other, the distance between them being about thirty feet. Usually but two race at a time. Those entering the contest ride away three hundred, four hundred, or five hundred yards, to some point agreed upon; then,


[page 151]

turning, they dash forward, riding to and between these lines to a lariat, which has been drawn across from one side to the other. All the spectators act as judges. There is never any dispute as to the result of a race, no matter how much has been staked upon it, one way or the other. The wildest demonstrations of delight are indulged in by the winners, and the losers join heartily in the general hilarity.

“In 1889 Mr. C. R. Moffet attended a tininina, or social dance, given by the young men of Walpi. He thus describes it: ‘We made our way through the intricate windings of the narrow streets to nearly the opposite side of the village, where we found about forty men assembled in a long, low, and narrow hall. As only one very poor dip was burning, and as the only opening through wall or roof was a very low and narrow door near one end, it is safe to say that the lighting and ventilating of their ballroom was not first class. The dancers had removed all superfluous clothing, and it was extremely ludicrous to see an Indian come in, and, after quietly greeting those present, with great dignity take off his shirt and hang it up, just as a white man under similar circumstances would remove his great coat and hat. The musical instruments were a tom-tom, made of a section of hollow cottonwood log, one end of which was covered with dried muleskin, a number of gourds, filled with pebbles, and, wonderful innovation, a half string of sleigh-bells. The pebble-filled gourds and the bells were rattled, and the tom-tom, beaten with a heavy stick, came in from time to time like a bass drum, and the


[page 152]

dancers, in a long single file, kept time. First but the right foot of each moved to the music, then both feet, then both feet and one arm, then all the limbs, then the head, then the whole frame fairly writhed. The line slowly retreated to the back of the hall, but at once advanced with ever accelerating speed, ending in a terrific bound. All this in perfect unison, keeping time to the music, all the dancers chanting the story of their tribe. First, low and plaintive the song, telling the death of some renowned chief, or great misfortune of their people; then higher, telling of the capture of whole herds of deer and antelope and big horns, by their mighty hunters; then higher, ever higher, telling the adventures of their brave warriors on the fields of strife, and ending in a terrible yell, that marked the close of a wonderful exploit of some death-dealing chief. The wavering light, the shadowy corners, scarcely lighted at all; the rattling bells and gourds, and the mournful tom-tom; the long line of nearly nude Indians, their long hair streaming out behind, marching, bounding, writhing, and wildly tossing their arms; and the strange song, now soft and low, now loud and fierce, formed a scene oppressively weird, and never to be forgotten. The tininina ended at about ten o'clock.’

“The Moquis bury their dead with much ceremony. They do not put them in boxes or coffins, but wrap them in blankets and lay them away in the rocks with bowls of sacred meal, meat, water, corn, and fruits. This is not done from any superstitious notion that these things are going to be of any use to the dead, but because


[page 153]

they are symbols of certain ideas. The women are the chief mourners and are grief stricken at their loss. The great altitude of the town with the consequently rare and pure air prevents odors.

“Their form of courtship and marriage is very simple. In this part of their life neither priests nor civil officials have anything to do. When a young man seeks a wife he pays court to a maiden of his own choosing, and if he is favored she sends him a basket of variously colered peki, or peky, which signifies that she is willing to marry him. Then he, with all his people, visits her family, and they have a little fete. This is returned, when the young man goes away with the girl, now his bride, and lives in her house. These people are very moral and hold in most sacred regard the family life. They do not marry sisters or cousins, and they invariably go out of their family or gens to select wives or husbands.

“The Moquis, it is said, believe in a great spirit, who lives in the sun and who gives them light and heat. With the Moquis there are male and female in the idea of deity; the earth is the female, and all living things are the issue.

“The Moquis know one all-wise and good spirit, Cotukinuniwa, ‘The Heart of the Stars.’ They have also Balikokon, the Great Water Snake, the spirit of the element of water, and they see him in the rains and snows, the rivers and springs, the sap in the trees and the blood in the body. The whole Moqui heavens are filled, too, with Katcina, angels, or literally, ‘those who have listened to the Gods.’ All


[page 154]

the great dead men of the Moqui nation at some time before they died, saw Katcina and received messages from them, and some of the chiefs now living have seen them, too. As it is so often found in the religion of a people who are low in mental development, and in whose pitiful lives the hours of trial and privation and sorrow are much more numerous than the happy ones, the spirit of good, though all-wise, is not all-powerful, so it is found here. Cotukinuniwa loves his children and would send to them nothing but good; but that he cannot always do, for Balilokon is sometimes stronger than he, and wills evil. Yet it would not be right to call Balilokon the spirit of evil, for he is by no means always so. When he is pleased the mists and rains fall gently and the sap runs lustily through plants and trees, giving them vigorous growth; the springs and rivers are full, but clear giving abundance of good water to the people and their flocks, and the blood flowing in the veins of the children of the tribe is the blood of health; but Balilokon is sometimes angered and the rains come not at all, or come in deluges that destroy; the rivers are dry or are raging floods; the sap is withdrawn from the plants and trees and they die, and the blood of the people flows through their veins but to poison. There have been times when the anger of Balilokon it seemed no ceremony or prayer could appease; then hundreds of the people went down to death, and one time, away in the dim past, so many moons ago that their wisest one cannot tell how many, he sent a great flood that covered nearly all the earth, and but very few of the people and not many


[page 155]

of the beasts were saved. Balilokon, having it in his power to do so much of evil, is the god most prayed to, and in his name almost all the ceremonies are held. At the foot of the cliff at the southern point of the mesa is a large rock (Moqui luck shrine) with a nearly flat top, about 8 feet in size, and a few yards to one side of it is a well worn trail. On the top of the rock are thousands of pebbles, seemingly every one that could possibly be lodged there, and around the base are other thousands that have fallen. It is the great luck stone, and from time immemorial have the children of the villages gone there to get forecasts of their lives. Each little devotee of the blind goddess selects three pebbles, and while walking down the trail, throws them, one by one, upon the rock. If but one pebble lodges, the thrower will know much of sorrow and disappointment, yet his efforts will sometimes bear good fruits. If two pebbles stay he will find more than the average of success, and if all three lodge upon the top he may march onward boldly, for what can withstand him? Should all the little stones fall off, what then? Well, the child can ask himself but one question, ‘Why was I born?’

“‘In the “neck” or “saddle” which connects the first of the Moqui ‘islands’ or rock (the first or eastern mesa, on which is Walpi) with the main tableland, is a shrine of great importance. It is a little inclosure of slabs of stone surrounding a large stone fetich, which has been carved into a conventional representation of the sacred snake. In two small natural cavities of the dance rock are also kept other large fetiches.’


[page 156]

(Charles F. Lummis, in ‘Some Strange Corners of Our Country.’ 1892.)

“At points about the Moqui villages are altars and shrines, on or in which are idols made of wood or pottery, and at which the Moquis individually worship. Near Oraibi is a noted Phallic shrine. The Moqui worship or devotional acts are largely private. Their communal and public worship are generally by dancing or in games. Some of these shrines may be the remains of the old Catholic worship.”

Up: Contents Previous: CHAPTER VII. THE WALLAPAI. Next: CHAPTER IX. THE HOPI (OR MOQUI) (Continued).




© Arizona Board of Regents