Don’t Worry. Be Hopi.

Roads Scholar

December 10, 2012

Don’t Worry be Hopi

We had a morning long lecture by Chizomana Chuvenka Black who is a Hopi woman who grew up on the Hopi reservation north of Flagstaff during the 1920’s. You do the math. She is in her eighties and quite lively.

She told us what life was like living in the pueblo on top of a mesa in the high desert. They Hopi had located up there to protect themselves from the Navajo tribe and the Spaniards who seemed intent on eliminating them from the face of the earth. The population that remained got further reduced by small pox and famine until there were only 2000 of them left by 1870. There are now about 12000 of them living in 13 villages. So life is getting better for them-with reservations.

Chio lived in condominiums that were built 3 and 4 stories high on top of a mesa. She was raised by her uncles because her parents were murdered when she was 2. The Hopis are a maternalistic society where the women own the land and the men marry into the woman’s clan and work her land. Oddly they have only uncles from the mother’s side and only aunts from the fathers side. They are a very religious people and they do not allow anyone to take pictures or document their lives. The slides that Chio had were taken by the National Geographic in the late 1800’s.

My Indian name is go go shiltz which roughly translated means ‘running with beer”.

In the afternoon a couple of my Road Scholar pals and I headed out on out own on our one free afternoon. We headed off to Jerome, Az. which at one point was the second largest town in N Arizona, with 10,000 people living there. The mine there ran out and the town almost made it to a ghost town status with only 100 people living there. But the hippies heard of it s plight and thought,” free rent’ and moved in. Then others followed and now it is pretty much a made to order tourist trap, but with an attitude.

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The last operational VW van in America

They use to use a lot of nitro glycerin and then later TNT in the mining operation. I mean a lot. The town use to shake in a sort of “Paint Your Wagon” sort of way. It had what is known as a subsidence problem where the buildings would actually move. The jail moved 250 feet downhill and ended up across the street from where it started. I have no idea of what happened to any prisoners, but we can assume that after that journey they were fully rehabilitated.

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Jerome Jail relocation project.

We then went on to Tuzigoot. Yes it is spelled correctly. It means “crooked water” or “running with beer” I forget. But it was an excellent example of pueblo Indians building what were basically condos up on a hill in the period of 1100 to 1300 AD. We were able to climb all the way to the top of these ruins and from up there I finally understood why they would live on a hillside, as oppose to say an “active adult community”.

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Tuzigoot ruins.

Then it was on to Montezuma’s Well. The level of it never changes and it has been used for many centuries. No one knows how deep it is. As best as anyone can surmise it is an underground river that has been traveling through the rock for about 10,000 years and it finally burst to the surface. Nothing much lives in it except for a few leeches but the water has been used to irrigate the desert for centuries.

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By this time the sun was beginning to set and it was time to head back to Sedona. The 30 mile ride home was the best part of the day. With the sun going down the light on the buttes and mesas was awe inspiring. Every turn brought a new vista that was prettier than the last. I was so mesmerized by it I forgot to take a picture.

After dinner we were entertained by Ken and Lyn Mikell who are singers, fiddlers, Celtic harp players, and cowboy poets. Quite entertaining. Visit them at Harpytrails.com. No, I am not making that up.

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