Popular Science Monthly/Volume 55/October 1899/The Hopi Indians of Arizona
|THE HOPI INDIANS OF ARIZONA.|
By GEORGE A. DORSEY.
AS one approaches the center of Arizona, along the line of the Santa Fé Railroad, whether he come from the east or from the west, his attention is sure to be arrested by several tall, spire-like hills which are silhouetted against the sky to the far north. These peaks are the Mold Buttes, and to the north of them lies the province of Tuscayan, the land of the Mokis, or the Hopis, as they prefer to be called. That country to-day contains more of interest to the student of the history of mankind than any other similar-sized area on the American continent. But very few of the great throng that roll by on the Santa Fé trains every year in quest of pleasure, of recreation, of new scenes and strange, stop off at Holbrook or Winslow to take the journey to the Hopis, and very few even know of the existence of these curiously quaint pueblos of this community, which to-day lives pretty much as it did before Columbus set out on his long voyage to the unknown West.The term pueblo, a Spanish word meaning town, is by long and continued use now almost confined to the clusters of stone and adobe houses which to-day shelter the sedentary Indians of New Mexico and Arizona. Not only are these Indian towns called "pueblos," but we speak of the Indians themselves as the Pueblo Indians, and of the culture of the people—for they all have much in common—as the pueblo culture. This similarity of culture is not due to
Terrace Scene, Streets of Oraibi.
unity of race or of language, but is the resultant of a peculiar environment. In recent times, the limits of the pueblo-culture area have contracted to meet the demands of the white man; we know also that before the advent of the Spaniard many once populous districts had been abandoned, and as a result there came to be fewer but larger villages. We know also, both from tradition and from archæological evidence, that in former days the pueblo people inhabited many of the villages of southern Colorado and Utah, and that the Hopis and their kin were numerous in many parts of Arizona. The silent houses of the cliffs, the ruins of central Arizona, and the great crumbling masses of adobe of the Salt and Gila River valleys and in northern Chihuahua are all former habitations of the Pueblo Indian. To-day there are no representatives of these people in Utah or Colorado, while the seven Hopi towns of Tusayan alone remain in Arizona. But there are still many pueblos scattered along the Rio Grande, Jemez, and San Juan Rivers in New Mexico. Alike in culture, we may divide the existing pueblos into four linguistic groups—namely, the Hopis of Arizona, the Zuñis of New Mexico, the Tehuas east of the Rio Grande, and the Queres to the west of the Rio Grande. Of the earlier home of the last three stocks we know but little. The ancestors of the Hopis we know came from different directions—some from the cliff dwellings of the north, others from central Arizona. To-day, however, they form a congeries of clans united and welded into a unit by similarity of purpose and by the more powerful influence of a peculiar environment.
The opinion was held until within a very few years that the Hopis represented a small branch of the Shoshonean division of the Uto-Aztecan stock, but Dr. Fewkes, our greatest authority on the Hopi, has questioned the accuracy of this classification, and it can be stated that the true affinities of the Hopi have not yet been discovered.
The province of Tusayan, or the Moqui Reservation, as it is officially known to-day, contains about four thousand square miles and about two thousand Indians. It is in the northeastern part of Arizona, and its towns are about eighty miles by trail from the railroad. The present inhabitants are grouped in seven pueblos, located on three parallel mesas, or table-lands, which extend southward like stony fingers toward the valley of the Little Colorado River. The first or east mesa contains the pueblos of Walpi, Sitcomovi, and Hano; on the second or middle mesa are Miconinovi, Cipaulovi, and Cuñopavi; and on the third or west mesa stands Oraibi, largest and most ancient of all Hopi pueblos, and in many respects the best preserved and most interesting community in the world. A community without a church, separated by a broad, deep valley from its nearest neighbor, with but a single white man within twenty miles, removed nearly thirty-five miles from a trading post, isolated, proud, spurning the advances of the Government, Oraibi could maintain its independence if every other community on the earth were blotted out of existence.
The journey from Winslow to Oraibi is not without great interest. The beautiful snow-capped peaks of the San Francisco Mountain are always in sight far away to the west, and when the eye tires of the rigid and immovable desert their graceful outlines
Street Scene, Oraibi.
check the often rising feeling of utter helplessness. Then there is a sweep and barrenness of the plain which is impressive and often awe-inspiring, and which at times produces a feeling similar to that created by the sea. Save for the stunted cottonwoods along the Little Colorado River, there is scant vegetation to relieve the bright reds, yellows, and blues of the painted desert over which the sun's heat quivers and dances, revealing here and there mirages of lakes and forests of wonderfully deceptive vividness. Arising out of the plain here and there are brief expanses of table-lands, with the soft under strata crumbled away and the higher strata having fallen down the sides, producing often the appearance of a ruined castle. At the foot of the mesas are clumps of sagebrush and grease wood, while the plain is dotted here and there with patches of cactus and bright-colored flowers. Foxes and wolves are common enough, and we are rarely out of sight or sound of the coyote, bands of which make night hideous with their shrill, weird cry.
Although the Navajo country proper is to the north and east of Tusayan, their hogans, or thatched-roofed dugouts, are met with here and there along the valley of the river. The Navajos are the Bedouins of America. We often see the women in front of the hogans weaving, or the men along the trail tending their flocks of sheep and goats, for they are great herders and produce large quantities
Street Scene, Oraibi.
of wool, part of which they exchange to the traders; the remainder the women weave into blankets, which are in general use throughout the Southwest and which find their way through the trade to all parts of the relic-loving world. They raise, in addition, great quantities of beans, which they also send out to the railroad. They are better supplied with ponies than the Hopi, and with them make long journeys, for the Navajos do not live a communal life as do the pueblo people, but are scattered over an extensive territory, each family living alone and being independent of its neighbors.
After a long and tiresome journey of four days we arrive at the foot of the mesa and begin the long, upward climb, for Oraibi is eight hundred feet above the surrounding plain and seven thousand feet above the level of the sea. Just before the crest is reached the trail for fifty or more feet is simply a path along and up the base of a rocky precipice, its steps worn deep by the never-ending line of Indians passing to and fro. Once upon the summit we have an unobstructed view over the dry, arid, sun-parched valleys for many miles—a view which, in spite of its desolation, is extremely fascinating.
We often speak of this or of that town as the oldest on the continent. But here we are in the streets of a town which antedates all other cities of the United States—a pueblo which occupied this very spot when, in 1540, Coronado halted in Cibola and sent Don Pedro de Tobar on to the west to explore the then unknown desert. Imagine seven rather irregularly parallel streets about two hundred yards long, with here and there a more open spot or plaza, lined on each side with mud-plastered, rough-laid stone houses, and you have Oraibi. The houses rise in the form of terraces to a height of two or three stories. As a rule there is no opening to the ground-floor dwellings save through a small, square hatch in the roof. Leading up to this roof are rude ladders, which in a few rare instances are simply steps cut in a solid log, differing in nowise from those found leading into the chambers of the old cliff ruins of southern Colorado. The roof of the first row or terrace of houses forms a kind of balcony or porch for the second terrace, and so the roof of the second-story houses serves a similar useful purpose for the third-story houses.
Two things impress one on entering a Hopi home for the first time—the small size of the rooms, with their low ceilings, and the cleanness of the floors. Both floors and walls are kept fresh and bright by oft-renewed coats of thin plaster, which is always done by the woman, for she owns the house and all within it; she builds it and keeps it in repair. The ceiling is of thatch held up by poles, which in turn rest on larger rafters. Apart from the mealing bins and the piki stones, to be described later, there is no furniture—no table, no chairs, no stools, simply a shelf or two with trays of meal or bread, and near the wall a long pole for clothing, suspended by buckskin thongs from the rafters. Their bed is a sheepskin rug and one or two Navajo blankets spread on the floor wherever there may be a vacant space. In one corner may be a pile of corn stacked up like cordwood, and in another corner melons or squashes and a few sacks of dried peaches or beans. Between the thatch and rafters you will find bows and arrows, spindles, hair-pins, digging-sticks, and boomerangs, and from the wall may hang a doll or two, children's playthings. Such is an Oraibi home; but it always seems a happy home, and the traveler is always welcome.
A prominent feature of almost every pueblo plaza is a squarish, boxlike elevation which extends about two feet above the level of the earth and measures about six feet in length, with a two-foot hole in the center, from which projects to a considerable height the posts of a ladder. If you descend this ladder you will find yourself in a subterranean chamber, rectangular in shape, and measuring about twenty-five feet in length by about fifteen feet in breadth, with a height from the floor to the ceiling of about ten feet. This underground room is the kiva, or the estufa of the Spaniards. Here are held all the secret rites of religious ceremonies, and here the men resort to smoke, to gossip, to spin, and weave. The floor, to an extent of two thirds of the entire length, except for a foot-wide space extending around this portion, is excavated, still farther to a depth of a foot and a half. The remaining elevated portion is for the spectators, while the banquette around the excavation is used by the less active participants in the ceremonies. Just under the hatchway and in front of the spectators' floor is a depression which is used as a fire hearth. The walls are neatly coated with plaster, and the entire floor is paved with irregularly shaped flat stones fitted together in a rough manner. There is sometimes inserted in the floor, at the end removed from the spectators, a plank with a circular hole about an inch and a half in diameter; this hole is called the sipapu, and symbolizes the opening in the earth through which the ancestors of the Hopi made their entrance into this world. The roof of the kiva is supported by great, heavy beams, which are brought from the San Francisco Mountain with infinite trouble and labor. In Oraibi there are thirteen kivas, each probably in the possession of some society, one of which belongs to women, who there erect their altar in the mamzrouti ceremony. Oraibi has the largest number of kivas of any of the Hopi pueblos; in a single plaza there are no less than four kivas. This plaza is on the west side of the village, and one of the kivas is of special interest, for in it are held the secret rites of the weird snake ceremony. A little to the west of this plaza is a small bit of the mesa, standing apart and separated from the main mesa by a depression. This is known as "Oraibi rock," whence the pueblo takes its name. The etymology of this name "Oraibi" is lost in a misty past, but the rock is still held in great veneration. On it stands a rude shrine, where one may always find sacrificial offerings of prayer-sticks, pipes, sacred meal, cakes, etc.
The roof of a Hopi house is always of interest. Here we may see corn drying in the sun or loads of fagots ready for use, women dressing their hair or fondling their babies, or groups of children playing or roasting melon seeds in an old broken earthenware vessel which rests on stones over a fire. From the projecting rafters are ears of corn hung up to dry, or pieces of meat placed there to be out of reach of the dogs, or bunches of yarn just out of the dye pot. When a ceremony is being performed in some one of the plazas the roofs near by present a scene which is animated in the extreme, every square foot of space being occupied by a merry, good-natured throng of young and old. As one looks from one group to another it is impossible not to notice the stunted and dwarfed appearance of the women, which is in marked contrast to that of the men, who are beautifully formed, of medium height, and of well-knit frames.
An Oraibi Mother and Children.
There is not, however, the same powerful ruggedness or splendid development among these pueblo dwellers which we find among the plains Indians, for the days of the Hopi women are spent in carrying water and grinding corn, while the men in summer till their fields and in winter spin and weave.
In considering the routine life of the Hopi it is hard to draw a sharp line between what we may call his regular daily occupations and his religious life, for they are closely interwoven. He is by nature a religionist, and he never forgets his allegiance and obligations to the unseen forces which control and command him.
In nothing is the primitiveness or the absence from contamination of the Hopi better revealed than in the children, for here, as elsewhere, is it shown that they are the best conservators of the habits and customs of ancestral life. What utter savages the little fellows are! Stark naked generally, whether it be summer or winter, dirty from head to foot, their long black hair disheveled and tangled and standing out in every direction, their head often resembling a thick matted bunch of sagebrush. They are never idle; now back of the village behind tiny stone ramparts eagerly watching their horsehair bird snares, or engaged in a sham battle with slings and corncobs, or grouped in threes or fours about a watermelon, eagerly and with much noise gorging themselves to absolute fullness, or down on the side of the mesa playing in the clay pits. A not uncommon sight is that of two or three little fellows trudging off in pursuit of imaginary game, armed with miniature bows and arrows or with boomerangs and digging-sticks. In their disposition toward white visitors they are extremely shy and reticent, but they are also very inquisitive and curious, and, furthermore, they have a sweet tooth, and one only need display a stick of candy to have half the infantile population of the pueblo at his heels for an hour at a time. If perchance one of the little fellows should die, he is not buried in the common cemetery at the foot of the mesa, but he is laid away among the rocks in some one of the innumerable crevices which are to be found on all sides near the top of the mesa, for the Hopis, in common with many other native tribes of America, believe that the souls of departed children do not journey to the spirit land, but are born again.
As the girls reach the age of ten or twelve they distinguish themselves by dressing their hair in a manner which is both striking and absolutely unique on the face of the earth. The hair is gathered into two rolls on each side of the head, and then, at a distance of from one to two inches, is wound over a large U-shaped piece of wood into two semicircles, both uniting in appearance to form a single large disk, the diameter of which is sometimes as much as eight inches. After marriage the hair is parted in the middle over the entire head, and is gathered into two queues, one on each side, which are then wound innumerable times by a long hair string beginning a few inches from the head and extending about four inches. The ends of the queues are loose. Hopi maidens are, as a rule, possessed of fine, regular features, slender, lithe, and graceful bodies, and are often beautiful. But with the early marriage comes a daily round of drudgery, which prevents full development and stunts and dwarfs the body. But to old age she is generally patient, cheerful, nor does she often complain. Lines produced by toil and labor may show in her face, but rarely those of worry or discontent. Even long before marriage she has not only learned to help her mother in the care of her younger brothers and sisters, but she has already trained her back to meet the requirements of the low-placed corn mills. From her tenth year to her last it has been estimated that every Hopi woman spends on an average three hours out of every twenty-four on her knees stooping over a metate, or corn-grinder, for corn forms about ninety per cent of the vegetable food of the Hopis.
In every house you will find, in a corner, a row of two, three, or four square boxlike compartments or bins of thin slabs of sandstone set on edge. Each bin contains a metate set at an angle with its lower edge slightly below the level of the floor. There is a clear space around each stone to permit of a better disposition of the corn and meal. The texture of the metates is graduated from the first to the last, the final one being capable of grinding the finest meal. Accompanying the metate is a crushing or grinding stone about a foot in length and from three to four inches wide. Its under surface is flat, while its upper surface is convex to a slight extent, so as to permit of its being grasped firmly by the thumb and fingers of both hands. The corn is ground between these two stones, the upper one being worked up and down the metate by a motion of the operator not unlike that of a woman washing clothes on a washboard. The favorite position assumed by the woman while working is to sit on her knees, her toes resting against the wall of the house behind her. Of the many colors of corn used by the Hopis, blue is the most common, and corn of this color is ordinarily employed in the making of bread; other colors, however, are used for the piki consumed in ceremonial feasts.
The stone used by the Oraibians for making piki is from a sandstone quarry near Burro Springs. It is about twenty inches long by fourteen broad, and is three inches thick. The upper surface is first dressed by means of stone picks, and is polished by a hard rubbing-stone, and then finally treated with pitch and other ingredients until its surface is as smooth as glass. It is mounted on its two long edges by upright slabs, so that it stands about ten inches from the level of the floor, the floor itself being usually excavated to a depth of two or three inches beneath the stone. At a height of about four feet above this primitive griddle is a large rectangular hood which is extended above the roof in the form of a chimney made of bottomless pots, one resting on the other. Kneeling in front of the stone and supporting her body with her left arm, the woman coats the stone with the thin batter of corn and water with the fingers of her right hand. After a few seconds' time she lifts the waferlike sheet from the stone and transfers it to a mat which is made for this special purpose. For some time the piki remains soft and pliable, and while in this condition she rolls or folds the sheets according to her custom—some folding, others rolling it. It is a curious sight on the feast days of certain ceremonies to see women gathering from all quarters of the village at an appointed house, each carrying a tray heaped high with rolls of this paper bread.
The Hopis are among the foremost potters in North America, when we take into consideration the fineness of the clays used and the character of the decoration. But in many respects, especially in form, their ware is much inferior to that of the ancient Mexicans and Peruvians. They make pottery to-day as they did hundreds of years ago, but the quality of the work has greatly deteriorated and the earthenware now produced is not to be compared with that found in near-by Hopi ruins. It should be kept in mind, however, that the specimens found in the ancient graves are to a certain extent ceremonial, and consequently better made and more ornate in their decoration than those which were made simply for household purposes. Still, there are a fineness of texture and a delicacy of coloring in the ancient ware which can not now be produced. It is to be noted, also, that the Hopi woman of to-day can not decipher the designs on the earlier pottery, although she often copies them. The demand for earthenware vessels, however, is nearly as great at present as it was in prehistoric days, for you may search the homes of Oraibi for a long time without finding a tin pan or an iron pot. Thus it is that every Hopi woman must be a worker in clay, and one of the occasional sights is that of a woman on her "front porch" surrounded by vessels of all sizes and in varying degrees of completeness. The process of pottery-making is somewhat as follows: "After the clay has been worked into a plastic mass she draws out from it a round strip the size of one's finger and about five inches in length. This is coiled flat in the bottom of the tray, and forms the base of the vessel. Other clay strips are kneaded out of the mass, and these are coiled in a gradually increasing spiral, the desired shape and proportion being acquired at the same time, until the vessel has reached its proper height. The sides of the vessel are then thinned down, and both inside and outside are made smooth by means of small bits of gourds and polishing-stones. The vessel is then ready for a coat of wash, after which it is painted and fired. This method of making pottery is not peculiar to the pueblos, but is found among some of the tribes of South America.
The art of basketry was never brought to a high state among the Hopis, for they confine themselves chiefly to the manufacture of large shallow trays and rough baskets made of the long, pliable
Oraibi Rock, upon which stands Katcin Kiku, the Principal Oraibi Shrine.
leaves of the yucca or of some other fiber. These answer all ordinary domestic requirements. From the reddish-brown branches of a willowlike bush which grows near, the Hopi mother interweaves a cradle board for her children. This cradle is peculiar in its shape, and especially so in its construction, and differs greatly from that in use among the plains Indians. Another singular point to be noted is the fact that this cradle board is not often strapped to the back, but is usually in the arms, or, more often still, is placed on the floor by the side of the mother as she works. The Oraibi mesa, like other table-lands of Tusayan, is destitute of water. The nearest spring is in the valley at the foot of the mesa nearly a mile away. From before sunrise to ten o'clock of every day there is an almost unbroken line of water carriers going and coming from the spring, bending under the weight of a large jar which they carry on their back by means of a blanket, the ends of which are tied in a knot on their forehead. No wonder these women grow prematurely old. Winter for them, however, has its advantages, for they have an ingenious way of utilizing the snow to save them from the necessity of going down the mesa for water. One of the most extraordinary sights I saw was that of a Hopi woman and her little girl trudging along, each bent almost to the ground under the weight of an immense snowball. These they were carrying home on their backs, enveloped in a blanket. About half a mile from the pueblo, back on the mesa, reservoirs have been scooped out in the soft sandstone, which are often partially filled by the spring rains, but the water soon becomes brackish and is not potable, but is used for washing clothes.
The costume of the woman consists ordinarily of four pieces—a blanket, dress, belt, and moccasins. The blanket is of wool, and is about four feet square. It is blue in color, with a black border on two sides. These two edges are usually bound with a heavy green or yellow woolen thread. To make the dress, this blanket is once folded and is sewn together with red yarn at the long side, except for a space sufficiently large to accommodate one arm. The folded upper border is also sewn for a short space, which rests on one of the shoulders. The other shoulder and both arms are bare, except as they may be partially covered by the blanket. The belt or sash is of black and green stripes, with a red center, ornamented with geometric designs in black; it is about four inches wide, and is long enough to permit of being wound around the waist two or three times. The moccasins are of unpainted buckskin, one side of the top of which terminates in a long, broad strip, which is wound round the leg several times and extends up to the knee, thus forming a thick legging. More than half the time the Hopi woman is barefooted. The girls wear silver earrings, or suspend from the lobe of the ear small rectangular bits of wood, one side of which is covered with a mosaic of turquoise. This custom is of some antiquity, as ear pendants exactly similar to these have been found in the Hopi ruins of Homolobi, on the Little Colorado River.
In addition to this regulation costume, worn on all ordinary occasions, each Hopi woman is supposed to own a bridal costume and two special blankets, which are worn only in ceremonies, and hence need not here be described. The bridal costume consists of a pair of moccasins, two pure white cotton blankets, one large and the other small, both having large tassels of yellow and the black yarn at each corner, and a long, broad, white sash, each end of which terminates in a fringe of balls and long thread. All three garments, before being used, are covered with a thick coat of kaolin, so that they are quite stiff. With these garments belongs a reed mat sufficiently large to envelop the small blanket and the sash.
So far as I am able to learn, the three pieces of this remarkable costume are never worn except on a single occasion, and at only one other time does the bride formally appear in any of them. About a month after the marriage ceremony has been performed, during which time she has been living with the family of her husband, she completes the marriage ceremony by returning to the house of her mother. This is termed "going home," and this will be her place of abode until she and her husband own a dwelling of
Grave of Child in Rock Crevice.
their own. For this ceremony she puts on the larger of the two blankets, which reaches almost to the ground and comes up high on the back of the head, covering her ears. The smaller blanket and the sash are rolled up in the mat, and with this in front of her on her two arms she begins her journey "home." This white cotton costume is probably a survival from times which antedate the introduction of wool into the Southwest.
Who makes all these garments, blankets, etc.? Not the women, as you might expect, but the men. A Hopi woman doesn't even make her own moccasins. If you will descend into one of the kivas on almost any day of the year, except when the secret rites of ceremonies are being held, you will behold an industrious and an interesting scene. You will find a group of men, naked except for a loin cloth, all busy either with the carding combs, the spindle, or the loom; and to me the most interesting of these three operations is that of the spinning of wool. The spindle itself is long and heavy, and the whorl, in the older examples, is a large disk cut from a mountain goat's horn. There is no attempt at decoration, nor do the spindles compare with those found in Peru and other parts of America for neatness and beauty. An unusual feature of the method employed by the Hopi spinner is the manner in which
Oraibi Man transporting Firewood with Burros.
the spindle is held under one foot while he straightens out the thread preparatory to winding it.
For weaving, two kinds of looms are used. One is a frame holding in place a fifteen-inch row of parallel reeds, each about six inches long and perforated in the center. This apparatus is used solely for making belts, sashes, and hair and knee bands. These are not commonly woven in the kiva, but in the open air on the terrace, one end of the warp being fastened to some projecting rafter. The other loom is much larger, and is used for blankets, dresses, and all large garments. It differs in no essential particular from other well-known looms in use by the majority of the aborigines of this continent. The method of suspending the loom is perhaps worth a moment's notice, as in nearly every house and in all kivas special provision is made for its erection. From the wall near the ceiling project two wooden beams, on which, parallel to the floor, is a long wooden pole, and to this is fastened, by buckskin thongs, the upper part of the loom. Immediately under this pole is a plank, flush with the floor, in which at short intervals are partially covered U-shaped cavities in the wood, through which are passed buckskin thongs which are fastened to the lower pole of the loom. The sets of thongs are long enough to permit of the loom being lowered or raised to a convenient height. While at work the weaver generally squats on the floor in front of his loom, or he occasionally sits on a low, boxlike stool. It is no uncommon sight to see, at certain times of the year, as many as six or eight looms in operation at one time in a single kiva. The men also do all the sewing and embroidering. Practically all the yarn consumed by the Hopis is home-dyed, but the colors now used are almost entirely from aniline dyes and indigo. Cotton is no longer used except in the manufacture of certain ceremonial garments, all others being made of wool. They own their own sheep, which find a scant living in the valleys; for the better protection of the sheep from wolves they also keep large numbers of goats.
Although the men do all the weaving, they do but little of it for themselves. For the greater part of the year their only garment is the loin cloth—a bit of store calico. In addition, they all own a shirt of cheap black or colored calico, which is generally more or less in rags, and a pair of loose, shapeless pantaloons, made often from some old flour sack or bit of white cotton sheeting. It is a rather incongruous sight to see some old Hopi, his thin legs incased in a dirty, ragged pair of flour-sack trousers, on which can still be traced "XXX Flour, Purest and Best."
Neither sex scarifies, tattoos, or paints any part of the body except in ceremonies, when colored paints are used as each ceremony requires. The men often wear large silver earrings, and suspend from their neck as many strands of shell and turquoise beads as their wealth will allow. Some of the younger men wear, in addition, a belt of large silver disks and a shirt and pantaloons of velvet. Most of their silver ornaments, it should be noted, however, have been secured in trade from the Navajos, who are the most expert silversmiths of the Southwest.
When the Hopi isn't spinning or weaving, he is in his kiva praying for rain, or he is in the field keeping the crows from his corn. I was once asked if the Hopis plow with oxen or horses. They use neither; they do not plow. When they plant corn they dig a deep hole in the earth with a long, sharp stick until theyreach the moist soil. When the corn is sprouted and has reached
Valley Scene; Fields and Peach Trees. Oraibi on Mesa to the Right.
a height of a few inches there is always the possibility of its being blown flat by the wind or overwhelmed in a sand storm. To provide against this the Hopi incloses the exposed parts of his little field with wind-breakers, made by planting in the earth thick rows of stout branches of brush. These hedges even are often overwhelmed by the sand and completely covered up.
And the crows, and the stray horses, and the cattle! Surely the poor Indian must fight very hard for his corn. For nearly two months he never leaves it unguarded, and that he may be comfortable he makes a shelter behind which he can escape the burning rays of the July and August sun. The shelters are occasionally rather pretentious affairs, at times consisting of a thick brush roof, supported by stout rafters which rest on upright posts. More often, however, they simply consist of a row of cottonwood poles, five or six feet high, set upright at a slight angle in the earth.
Although corn is by far the most important vegetable food, the rich though sun-parched soil yields large crops of beans and melons of all kinds.
Peach orchards also thrive in the sheltered valleys near the mesa, and in the fall great patches of peaches may be seen spread out to dry on the rocks of the mesa to the north of the village. Of both beans and peaches the Hopis generally have large quantities for the outside market, which they take over to the railroad on the backs of burros or ponies.
Before leaving the subject of the daily life of the male portion of Oraibi I have still to mention a curious weapon of which they make occasional use. This is the throwing-stick, or so-called boomerang, which differs only slightly from that used by the aborigines of Australia; the Hopi stick, however is better made, and is ornamented by short red and black lines. This is the weapon of the young men, and with it they work havoc with the rabbits which infest the valleys. But although they have good control over it, as can often be seen on their return from a hunt, they are not able to cause its return as can the Australians. At first thought it seems rather strange that the boomerang should have been evolved by two groups of mankind dwelling in parts of the world so remote, but we must look for the explanation of this phenomenon in the fact that the natural conditions of the two countries have much in common—a generally level, sandy country, with here and there patches of brush, a peculiar condition which would readily yield itself to the development of an equally peculiar and specialized weapon.
For fire the Hopi depends almost entirely on the rank growth of brush which is found along the ravines. This suffices to supply heat to the piki stone and the boiling pot, and enough to keep a fire on the hearth in the kiva. But now and then he must make a distant journey to that part of the mesa where the supply of stunted and scrubby pines and piñons has not already been exhausted; for by custom four kinds of fuel are prescribed for the kivas, and to keep the hearth replenished with these often necessitates long journeys. As the woman bends under her water jar, so the man staggers along under his load of fagots, often carried from a distance of several miles.