#30 How the Hopi Marked the Boundary Line
     (Edmund Nequatewa, 1936)

Now with all this fighting and the Navajo coming in around them, the Hopi were always thinking of their boundary lines and of how they should be marked in some way. But how? What sort of a mark could they put that would be respected by other peoples? It must be something that both the Hopis and the Navajos would remember.

So just at this time there were two men at Walpi who were rivals over a woman named Wupo-wuti. Now both these men were looking for a chance to show this woman how brave and strong they were. Finally they thought of this boundary line and the “theory” of the their people that it should be marked in such a way that everyone would always remember. So these two men thought that this was a chance for them to prove themselves and to really do something for their people at the same time. They thought they would plan a fight with the Navajos as near the boundary line as they could get and there they would sacrifice themselves32 and leave their skulls to mark the line. In this way they thought that they would prove that they were brave and good fighters and they would really be doing something for their people, and so it was agreed upon.

Then Masale (feathers crossed) said they would go to Fort Defiance. So they both made an agreement that they would go early in the fall. Tawupu (rabbit skin blanket) thought they were going alone, but later he found out that there was going to be a party going over. He thought they were sacrificing too many lives, but, of course, he had made the promise to this other man so that he could not tell on him or give him away at that time. The crier made an announcement that whoever wanted to go to Fort Defiance with this party was welcome, and that they must prepare themselves and be ready to go soon. Masale has a son named Hani and he loved him, so he thought that he would take him along. He figured that if he should be killed it might be best for the boy to die also. Of course, this being a time of war, everyone was asked to take his bows and arrows along. Masale asked his boy to come along and to be sure to make some new arrows. The boy, of course, being ignorant of his father’s plans, was glad to go with them.

By this time the people had found out that the two rivals were going together to Fort Defiance, and they figured out that there was something going to happen – that they were going out to give themselves away, or sacrifice their lives.

The morning of the day they were starting out, one of the relatives of this boy, Hani, asked him if he was going along with his father and he said he was. This man said to the boy that it would be better for him not to go with them. But Hani said he was all ready and the man, being his father, he was going along with him.

“Well,” this relative said, “if you are, I will warn you right now. Wherever you camp you want to be sure where you lay your weapons or your bows and arrows, for your will be in danger.” He told him never to lay his bow and arrows under his head, but that he must lay them at his feet. “Because,” this man said, “if you are lying on your back with your bows and arrows at your feet and you are waked up suddenly you will jump up forward. Having your weapons there at your feet you will lay your hands on them every time.” He also told him that he must try not to sleep too soundly; that he must remember he was in danger all the time.

Hani, after getting his warning, started out and was the last on to leave. At that time the trail was through Keams Canyon. When he was quite a ways through the canyon, an eagle flew over his head and it was flying low. He thought that if the eagle settled down somewhere on a rock he would kill it and take the feathers along in case he wanted to make some more arrows on the way, so he kind of hid himself in the brush. Finally the eagle landed on top of a rock and Hani crawled toward him and took a shot at him. He did get him and the bird fell from the rock. Hani ran over to the place and found that his eagle was a buzzard. This seemed kind of strange, for he really had seen an eagle. That made him sort of suspicious. He thought it might be a warning or witchcraft, but as he was on his way already, he couldn’t very well turn back. Well, finally he came up with the party, in the late afternoon.

That night when they made their first camp he had the warnings in his mind and he couldn’t sleep. Anyway, he must have fallen asleep for a while and when he opened his eyes he was wide awake. He heard two men talking but he didn’t make any noise and pretended he was sound asleep. He recognized his father’s voice and also the voice of the other man, Tawupu. He overheard Tawupu asking his father why he had brought his boy along and his father said he couldn’t very well leave him behind because he loved him so dearly. He said that if his boy should refuse to come along with him he would back out too, and he said it would be better for both of them if they got killed. When the boy began to move the two men rushed back and crawled into their beds. Now, after Hani had overheard what the two men had said, he couldn’t sleep.

From then on the boy was rather uneasy every night when they made camp. After they lay down to sleep he’d keep awake quite a while because he knew, then, what the two men were up to. All the rest of the party didn’t seem to know anything about it. They were ignorant of the plans of the two men.

After several days on the road, they finally reached the place – Fort Defiance. There they were welcomed by the white man and were asked to stay several days with them. There were twelve or fifteen men in the party. Four being sacred number of the Hopi, they decided to stay four days. On the fourth day, when they were getting ready to go back home, the Bahana gave them flour and sugar and coffee and different kinds of cloth, besides yarns.

So the next morning when they were ready to leave, every burro they had with them was pretty well packed. Before they left they were asked if they would like to have a guard to go along with them. In case they were in any danger, they would have someone to show that they were the friends of the white man and they were not to be harmed, but since they didn’t see any signs of danger when they were coming over they refused to take a guard along. Having been granted all their wishes for things that they had wanted for so long, they were very happy when they left there.

They were two days on the road before they reached Ganado, and the night before they reached Ganado this boy, Hani, overheard the two men talking with some other man. This time there were three men sitting around the camp fire quietly smoking. The boy could not really understand just what they were saying because it was all in a whisper. Then, of course, he couldn’t help but move and when he did, one man rushed off and the other two men went to bed. One man was an outsider, a Navajo. The next morning the boy was more suspicious than ever, but still he could not ask his father what this night meeting was about.

So that day they traveled all day (on the other side of Ganado). On this day camp was made rather early and they said they wanted to get settled before dark. So they got everything ready before the sun went down, which was northwest of Ganado in the red hills. They said that they would have a good supper that night, so they cooked a great deal of their food that they had gotten at Fort Defiance – with bacon and some beef that they had brought along. Having an early supper, they said they would go to bed soon and would get up early in the morning, for they figured on reaching home the next night.

This man, Masale, the boy’s father, seemed very happy that night. Before going to bed they cut a lot of branches off the cedars and brush that was around and put them clear around the camp, as a windbreak, you might say. Against this they put their saddles and all the packs that they had. That night Hani kept awake quite a long time, but he could not stand it very long so he finally fell asleep.

During the night sometime, Hani thought that he was dreaming and that there was a heavy hail storm coming up for he thought that he heard the hail dropping. First he heard it dropping slowly and then faster. When he was wide awake he knew what was going on. They were being attacked and when he did come to, all the men were up. About this time his father spoke at the top of his voice in Apache, then in Navajo and then in Zuni. He was asking who it was that was attacking them. The boy did not forget where to have his bow and arrows every night, so when he did jump up he had his hands right on his bow. By this time arrows were coming from every direction. When Hani was well on his feet all the enemy rushed into the camp, and as this was during the night he did not know who was who. Anyway, he started on a run and they chased after him. It happened that some Navajo had a corn patch near there and in the corn patch he had some squash with very long vines. Hani thought the whole country was full of enemies, so he hid under the vines, breathless and excited. He heard his father make his last groan and he was very angry. Dead or alive, he decided to go back, but found himself with only a few arrows, two or three left. So he ran back to the camp and when he got there he found his father dead, with many arrows sticking in his body. His scalp was gone. He thought that before doing anything else he must find his arrows and he found them rolled up in his blanket. This little blanket was only half the size of a double saddle blanket. Now the enemy thought that he was one of their party so he was not shot at until he had shot at them. As the enemy followed him he ran backward, holding the little blanket in front of him to stop the arrows. The moon was just going down below the horizon and it was getting quite dark.

At first he did not realize that he had been shot, for being a good runner the enemy could not keep up with him, but when he got up to the hills they were rather too steep for him to climb, because he realized then that he was shot, one arrow in his stomach, one in his hip and one between his shoulders. He pulled out two, the one from his hip and the one from his stomach, but he couldn’t reach the one in his back. Well, anyway, he thought himself dead when he started to crawl up the hill. When he was halfway up the hill he cried for his dear life and prayed to his gods that if he should die, some day his skull would be found there. He didn’t know how many of the party were killed or saved; he didn’t know whether they were all dead or not. When he said his prayers, he cried some more, but he couldn’t cry very loud, for he’d rather die in peace than have the enemy find him and use a club on him.

As he was going up, it began to show that it was dawn. He could see the daylight over the horizon and he wished that he would not die. If the sun did com up in time, he believed that it would give him strength. Of course, he couldn’t help from groaning as he crawled up, and then he heard someone speak to him from the top of the hill, which scared him nearly to death and he thought some enemy had headed him off, so he did not answer. The voice came again and it was in plain Hopi. It said, “Are you hurt badly?” And he said, “Yes.” And then the other said, “Will you be able to make it up here?” But he said, “No.” So this other man came down and helped him up. When they got up he recognized this man and it was a man by the name of Mai-yaro. Well, this man said to the wounded boy that they would try to travel on together, as he was not wounded. He had been in the party, but had got away safely.

Hani told him to go on and leave him alone for he was done for and was ready to die, but this other man refused to leave him. He said that if the enemy should head them off and follow them, he would be willing to die with him. So they went on walking slowly, and while they were going along, another man named Tochi (Moccasin) joined them. He was hiding too. Hani asked them both again to leave him and run on home but they both refused. They asked him which of his wounds hurt him most and he said the arrow in his back hurt him the worst. So they thought they would pull this arrow out, but it was stuck fast in the bone. They tried it, but the shaft came off from the point. Then it was even harder to pull out. So they both tried their teeth on it and finally they pulled it out. One of these men was asked to scout ahead and the other to scout behind. So each man was supposed to be about one-fourth mile from the wounded man.

They were going very slowly. Finally they went down into another valley. It was about sunrise. As they were going along Hani saw a rabbit, a little cottontail on the side of the trail, and he wanted to shoot this rabbit because he said he was hungry and needed something to eat. Well, the other man said not to kill the rabbit. He said, “You belong to the Rabbit Clan and you can’t kill that rabbit. It might bring you luck if left alive. It might bring us both luck.” So he said, “Let the rabbit live.”

They thought of a spring around the point, for they were both tired and thirsty. Instead of scouting ahead, the third man, Tochi, had run home. When they got to the spring Mai-yaro would not let the wounded boy have a big drink, thinking that his stomach was injured. When they got kind of cooled off, Mai-yaro thought he would look back over the hill and see if the enemy was following. Before he left, he told the wounded man not to drink any more, for if his stomach was injured badly it would not hold water. But just as soon as he left Hani took a big drink and he felt much better.

Well, Mai-yaro went over the hill and as he looked down on the trail he saw a Navajo walking back and forth over the trail. He watched this Navajo for quite a while and he saw that he was very much discouraged. Well, finally, the Navajo turned back, so Mai-yaro went back to the spring and when he got there Hani told him he had had a big drink and felt better and he asked to have some more.

Then they both started back for the trail. This man, Mai-yaro, said he would go back to the trail and see what the Navajo was doing. When he got where they had seen the rabbit he found that the rabbit was gone. So he investigated there and found that the rabbit had gone over their tracks three times. So the rabbit had disappointed the Navajo who thought the men had passed him in the night long before daylight.

It was about the middle of the day, and it was hot, so they got in among some rocks. Hani was pretty well tired out and he said he would like to lie down for awhile and cool himself off. So he did lie down under one of the rocks and fell right asleep and the other man kept awake. Well, this man on the watch would close his eyes every little while and as he was doing this, he saw the shadow of a little bird on top of a rock. It was a little rock sparrow and it was very much excited about something. The man thought this was a warning to them, so they got right up and started on.

As they were going along it began to show signs that it was going to rain. Clouds were coming up. When it did cloud up they felt very much better, for they were cooled off. Then it started to rain. They thought they would not stop for shelter, but kept right on going while it rained. Finally, it poured down on them and there was a regular cloudburst. It rained so hard on them that it washed all the blood off Hani. He said that he felt much better, so Mai-yaro asked him to try himself out on a trot.

The man asked him if he felt his wounds hurting him and he said, “No.” Then he asked him to go a little faster, and then he asked him again how he felt. Hani said that he felt all right, so Mai-yaro asked him to run as fast as he could. Then he asked him again if the wounds hurt him. Hani said, “No,” and thought that he was well, so Mai-yaro said, “Let’s go then.”

Now when Tochi reached Walpi and told the people what had happened, Hani’s mother heard that he had been wounded badly and might die, so she wrapped up some piki and some sweet corn meal and she started out to look for him, all by herself. Now this was a very brave thing for a Hopi woman to do. She thought that she might find him dead somewhere and if she did she would roll his body under a ledge of rock or a bank of earth and cover him up with heavy stones and she would leave the piki and the sweet corn meal there for him.

But near the head of Jeddito Canyon she saw two men coming and then she recognized them for it was her boy Hani and Mai-yaro with him. And when they met they could not help but cry for joy. They hurried on home from there and when they came to the edge of the mesa south of Walpi, they saw clouds of dust in the valley coming toward them. They wondered what it was and thought it was an attack on the mesa. So they said to themselves, if there was an attack they would go on and meet the Navajo. So they went on and were met halfway and they found that this was a war party sent out to help them. When they met the whole party hurried back to the mesa and there at the foot of the mesa the whole village was crying for they found that only six men were saved out of the party that went to Fort Defiance.

Hani chose his godfather at the foot of the mesa, and of course it was Mai-yaro who was the first one to find him wounded, so instead of going to his own house he went with this man to be washed up and cared for the next day. When this was done he fasted four days. On the fourth day he was given his new name, “Hani.” From then on he always had in mind to get even with the Navajos in that part of the country, and so he did, for later he led war parties to that country often and brought back a scalp every time. He was considered one of the greatest and bravest men of the Walpi villages.

[#30] Hopi: Edmund Nequatewa, “How the Hopi Marked the Boundary Line,” from The Truth of a Hopi and Other Clan Stories of Shung-opovi. Flagstaff, Arizona: Northern Arizona Society of Science & Art, 1936, endnote 33.


Leave a Comment

Filed under Americas, Indigenous Cultures, North American Native Cultures

Leave a Reply