We came to Hopi land only after receiving permission from our Great spirit, Massau'u. He was living on this land with the Keeper of the Fire, who is the Spider Woman, and the two grandsons or nephews who are guardians of the Life Plan of this Great Spirit.
When we approached them for permission to live on this great land we were told, "It is up to you. If you want to live My humble life, never doubting it and never losing faith in it, I will be happy to have you come and live with Me." We made a sacred oath that early day to follow His Life Plan, to live with Him in righteousness on His land, to remember our past where the Life Stream became so corrupt that it was destroyed. Many people claim it was their ancestors who obtained this permission from the Great Spirit.
When we met the Great Spirit, He appointed a date at which time all the people were to gather. He told the people, "In 16 days we will gather here at which time I will instruct you how to live on this land." And we knew then that we would choose Massau'u to be our leader. But at the time of the meeting He looked within the Hearts of the people gathered there and saw that they had different plans they wanted to carry out. So He told them that until they had fulfilled all these selfish plans, He would not come back to be their leader. We stayed up all the following night and chose our leaders. After looking over all of them, He appointed one group and during the night He set up the altar which represents all land and life, all living things on this earth. The Great Spirit gave to this group the responsibility of being the keepers of this symbol of power and authority. He placed this altar in the hands of the leaders and spoke to them saying, "I have given you this land, life, and religion. Take this altar and be very careful that you never lose this Life Plan that I give to you. Take care of your children. Lead them on the right road to good health and long life. Let your children live to a ripe old age without sickness, without trouble. Let there be plenty of food. Let there be plenty of rain. And work the way I have worked this land. Never fight against your own people. Never let your people go across the water into other lands to harm people. You must stay within this area and uphold this sacred emblem which represents all land and life until I come again to be your leader."
These words were spoken to the group and this is how the Hopi have obtained their Way of Life and religion. It was unto this religious order that the first initiation performance was given by our Great Spirit. When He appointed a leader, He washed his hair and called him Hopi, Peaceful One. "This will be your name and you must lead your people along this line." He said. And today we initiate all our young children as to where and how the Hopi was given this name, Hopi. The ceremony is being done today very close to the way it was performed at the very beginning.
Then the Spider Woman, being a very intelligent person, again cautioned us to be on guard, to never let go of the Life Pattern given to us by the Great Spirit. "He has placed in your hands life, land, and everything in this earth. If ever you let go of it you will cause all your people to suffer a great punishment. You yourself will suffer. So remain fast to these instructions so that you will not bring yourselves to this sad end," she said.
After all the different groups of peoples were given their different foods and different languages, and different ways of worshiping, they were told to go in different directions in order to cover this continent. This is how the Indian people have settled on this land. This is how the land was given to them. This is why it is our land, the Indian people's land.
There were no white men at that time, but our forefathers knew that people in other lands would want to come to this one later on and we were warned that we must change our ways of life for another, but remain fast so that when the time of purification comes we will find ourselves faithful and may therefore enter everlasting life.
Yes, our forefathers knew that the white man would come to this land and would try in every way to get control of the things that belong to other people and we were cautioned very strongly not to fall for any of this plans. We must remain faithful to our own way of life or suffer the consequences. Today the white man is doing those very things of which our forefathers told us. He has placed before us many enticing things with the aim of destroying our land and life. But the Hopi will never give up their land and religion to follow anyone else but the Great Spirit.
Today we are witnessing the very things our forefathers foretold. I realize that many of our young people are being brought up in the white man's way and are therefore disregarding our teachings. This is of course not right. The Hopi knows it is not right to go about trying to change people who have religious beliefs different from their own and he will not try to force them to follow the Hopi way of life. I would not try to force the young people of the white man to live and believe my way, I will not even force my own young people to be initiated into our religious societies, I will only ask them if they want to join or be initiated into them. If they say "no," it will be respected. This is the very basis of our life, we must not force other people to change their ways.
The white man has come and done the exact things we knew he would do. Many of our Indian people throughout this country have lost all their belongings. Their land has been stolen. Their life destroyed. But no matter how hard it has been up to the present time, we have never let go of this land and life. We have never given up this belief of ours and gone after someone else's. This land is our home, given to us by the Great Spirit. It is not for sale and we are not going to sell it. It is for the purpose of all of us to make our livelihood upon it in accordance with the teachings. We have certain deeds and proceedures which are legal with the Creator and so this land has belonged to all of us since long before the white man came. It is our land yet. It is not going to be sold.
It seems that many of our young people are falling for the new plans that come to us from Washington, plans which say that we should take our mineral resources out of the Mother Earth and thereby accumulate money with which to buy more land. This to me is a very foolish thing to do because this is already our land. We cannot buy it again with the very thing that comes out of it. To buy and sell land is not right in the sight of our Great Spirit.
We are still standing fast, we have not forgotten our Great Spirit or the responsibility of land and life which He has placed upon us. We will never go under the government.
(Reprinted from the ILLUSTRATED PAPER, Mendicino, California.)