Have you ever read the book by John Steinbeck about his travels with his dog Charley, in search of the true America? I did many years ago, and remembering this it somehow triggered me to one day travel to the U.S. with my wife. I was also in search of promising and overwhelming landscapes, of people, animals, and the way of living, as well as anything that would come our way. The main reason, though, was to enter on a spiritual journey to the New World. I’ve had a desire for many years to try and meet the Hopi Nation. Not as a tourist, but in an endeavor to get to the core of this fascinating people. Here is Part 4.
Hopi Indian Reservation
During a short visit to the Navajo reservation, we made a trip through the Canyon de Chelly at Chinle, Arizona. Our car was driven by a cheerful Navajo elder who knew the canyon inside out, because as a boy he — his own words — used to play there and committed a lot of boyish pranks with his friends. Along the way the man showed us the sites and told us many jolly stories. All in all an entertaining as well as educating trip.
The next day it is Hopi time. I am a bit anxious. Will I be able to fulfill my dream? Is it possible to make contact and do I get permission to share the Hopi message? Questions like these are crossing my mind when we pass a large roadside sign indicating that we are entering the Hopi Indian reservation. The sign warns no photographing, not to get off the beaten track, and travelers are kindly requested not to bother the residents. Not very promising, to say the least.
At a restaurant along the road we eat a delicious simple meal of half a chicken with bread. Continuing on and after some time we finally arrive, as recommended, at the Hopi museum, on Second Mesa. Although it is nearly closing time I happen to speak to the lady supervising there, and tell her my story about contacting the Hopi and spreading the Hopi message. Indeed Mrs. Anna with her captivating Hopi face seems to know exactly what I’m talking about. She gives us information about how to get to the town of Kykotsmovi, only 5 miles further on the road. So far so good and we’re on our way to that place, on Third Mesa, and as suggested we make further inquiries in the retail store.
We are received in the home of a welcoming Hopi family where we stay for more than two hours and talk about all the good things the Hopi have to offer the world. In short, this day had been a very good one and a big thank-you goes to the anonymous Hopi in Sedona, and to all others who have committed themselves to make this contact possible. Just as I write this, the alarm clock shows 11:11. I now know that this is recognized and accepted! By way of a desert Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit presents a stunning sunset.
That night we stay in the only motel at the reservation, situated next to the museum. The next day, by means of some small talk “over the fence,” we learn that today in First Mesa, a traditional dance will be held. It is uncertain if white people will be welcome, but it’s certainly worth giving it a try.
What we earlier on did not dare to risk is happening now. We turn off the highway and drive up to First Mesa. When we arrive in the village of Hano though, apart from many parked cars, we cannot see or hear anything special. Apart from a few children there are virtually no people in the streets. Then we ride on to the next village, Walpi, where a huge panel informs us that visitors without guide are not welcome. Unfortunately a sign over the guides’ office indicates that today there will be no tours.
Knowing my wife, it is hardly surprising that she grasps the opportunity and asks an elderly lady living there if it wouldn’t be possible after all to take a brief glimpse. She has no objections whatsoever. So we leisurely cross the “border” and stroll through the old Walpi, which is partly restored and is still inhabited by only a few elderly people. A bit later, while looking downward to the plain we can see a police car coming up with high velocity and yes, soon the Hopi officer sturdily addresses us to tell what we already know. We explain our situation and the man, who tells us he was born there, proudly leads us along all the beauties and specialties of the town and explains the ins and outs of this very special place. Wow, what a treat!
At the end of our tour we hear drums. The announced dance! The police officer tells us about the importance of the ceremonial dance taking place, explains a bit about the significance, and informs us that we are herewith invited to join, on the condition that we stay detached and take no pictures. The family that had told us about the dance is there too, and although it is very crowded, the people around us seem to accept us for who we are. Some of them smile, nod happily to us or otherwise express their acceptance.
On the little square a so-called “Chu’tiva,” or “snake dance” takes place, one of the important spiritual ceremonies in the year for the Hopi people. It is very special and a privilege to be able to be part of this. Accompanied by the lonely monotonous drum the Kachina dolls, alive once again, carry out their traditional pavane, their slow dance that started on midnight and will continue until sunset. About 30 Hopi men seem to be in deep communion with spirit and the rattle of shells, taken along as jewelry, suggesting the sound of rattlesnakes, make sure that by the rhythm of the foot movements, the spectators are carried away into unfathomable depths. We too are swept along by the rhythm. A profound unity takes hold of us, and even now years later, the shivers run down our spines at a flashback to this very special event.
Unfortunately it isn’t possible for non-Natives to attend ceremonies such as these any more. In their letter dated August 9, 2010, the Snake and Antelope Priests state that non-Natives are prohibited to attend such ceremonial gatherings.
Copyright © 2015 by Hans Brockhuis
This video features a Hopi Buffalo Dance performed by tribal members.
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About Hans Brockhuis
Hans Brockhuis is a Dutch lightworker, writer and translator. His bilingual website, Running Fox Pages, features spiritual work of himself and others. Working as a translator and editor, he has been and is active in processing various publications, either in English, Dutch or German. See his portfolio here. If you are interested to follow what Running Fox is offering, you may subscribe to his newsflashes. Simply send an email to this address mentioning “subscribe Running Fox” in the subject line.