Hisat’sinom to Hopi: Establishing Cultural Affiliation in the Bears Ears Landscape

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Hand Print & Sandal Design Rock Art, SE Utah.

As part of a 3 day hiking tour of archaeological sites in the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM), I was asked to share a personal perspective based on my experiences as an archaeologist, outdoor guide and person of Hopi descent. When it comes to the Bears Ears, issues such as preservation archaeology, tourism and Indigenous perspectives all converge upon the landscape, setting the stage for conflict, but also collaboration. While archaeological research of the Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa regions is on-going, the study of Hopi connections to these areas and the associated archaeological cultures is currently limited and lacks detailed examination by Hopi advisors.

I often pose the question of how is Hopi connected to these prehistoric groups from distant lands? What is the continuity between modern Hopi people (and other Pueblo groups) and the ancestral cultures of the Bears Ears? Seems like a valid question, given that the modern day Hopi reservation lies over 200 miles south of this part of Utah. What are the woven strands of culture that ties us back over time and space? I recall a prior conversation with a gentleman about the popularity of having one’s genetic background tested. Provide some DNA and you can see in neat percentages and cool graphics just where “your people” come from. There are a whole lot of people interested in learning more about their ancestry and heritage. Understanding your origins matters it seems.

I wonder what my percentages would be if I were to be tested? Would my test results show a pie-chart with one solid color, labeled “Hopi”? In fact, just who am I as a Hopi person? Deeper into my family history there are memories of distant lands my ancestral clans occupied prehistorically. According to this knowledge, if I were able to conduct a DNA test of myself using archaeological culture designations, I would guess my Ancestral Puebloan pie-chart slice would be larger in comparison to the Mimbres, Salado and Sinaguan slices. These cultures being representative of various geographic areas my ancestral clans once occupied and therefore, I am of these places as well.

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Two Perspectives of Culture: Archaeological and Hopi (Graphic Courtesy Archaeology Southwest).

Through a Hopi lens, the perspective of “prehistory” here in the Southwest is seen as fluid and dynamic. Rather than foreign concepts such as “Ancestral Puebloan” or “Sinagua” as predecessors to modern pueblo culture, Hopi sees Moti’sinom and Hisat’sinom; cultural concepts that encompass over 2,000 years of ancestry. According to Hopi oral tradition, many clans occupied the Four Corners area, including that of the Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa. These clans brought with them various sets of knowledge that would be incorporated into Hopi culture; ceremony, medicine, technology, language and arts. The end result being the development of what we now identify as “Hopi”. The tracing of that cultural evolution is reliant on both oral tradition and the tangible evidence found within archaeological contexts.

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Ceramic Spiral Applique, Circa 1100 A.D.

One Hopi perspective views the archaeological record as metaphorical “footprints” of Hopi ancestors, substantiating Hopi oral histories about clan settlements and migrations. Within Hopi culture is the belief that the meaning of the past is what it contributes to life in the present. This belief underscores the “cultural continuity” between modern-day Hopi and their ancestors. How this connection manifests itself, often daily, is in the cultural knowledge and traditional know-how a Hopi person maintains. This knowledge is evident in many forms within traditional Hopi culture; the crops we grow and eat, the homes we occupy, the tools we use, the art we create, the ceremonies we enact and the language we speak. All of which is really an accumulation of ancestral Hopi experiences, learned over countless generations.

Based on this traditional view, Hopi people firmly believe that some of our ancestral clans are represented in the archaeological record of the Bears Ears. Parts of this ancestral history, the invisible strands of genetic code and the visible evidence of material culture, subsequently made its way into the modern expressions of Hopi people. Proving this requires continued consultation and fieldwork with knowledgeable Hopi advisors. Fortunately there are opportunities for future, collaborative Hopi research, including iconography found in textiles, rock art and ceramics, as well as discussions about agricultural traditions. One interesting area of study is the idea of return migrations or perhaps pilgrimages, by more recent Hopi people. This is evident by the satisfying discovery of Hopi Yellow Wares on Cedar Mesa and surrounding areas. Faint “footprints” in the sand leading back into a recognizable landscape.

This is the meaning that Hopi people find in the Bears Ears region. Experiencing ancestral sites within natural surroundings gives us both insight and reflection; insight into the lives of our earliest ancestors, and reflection on the migrations from Hisat’sinom to Hopi.

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Bears Ears Landscape
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Heritage Voices Podcast: Hopivewat- Hopi Museum and Learning Center Development – Episode 10

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In today’s episode, Lyle Balenquah interviews Susan Sekaquaptewa and Marissa Nuvayestewa about their efforts to build a Hopi museum and learning center by Hopi, for Hopi. They and their team are in the thick of working on turning this idea into a reality and they break down that process in this episode. They talk about the original idea behind the Hopivewat museum and learning center and how they have been working with the community to continue to develop the idea. They particularly touch on the importance of building relationships and partnerships, selecting an organizational structure, finding resources and funding, and how to use cultural roles as a strength rather than seeing them as a challenge. This episode provides fantastic guidance for anyone looking to do community-based projects with tribes!

Click HERE to access this, and other intriguing podcasts about Archaeology, Anthropology & Indigenous Issues.

Thanks to the Archaeology Podcast Network for hosting the Heritage Voices Podcast!

https://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/heritagevoices/

A Hopi Perspective on Diversity in Anthropology & Grand Canyon. Presented by Heritage Voices Podcast & The Anthropology Podcast Network

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This episode is part two of the Grand Canyon National Park miniseries. Today we interview Heritage Voices co-host Lyle Balenquah, Hopi archaeologist, ethnographer, educator, advocate, and river guide extraordinaire about his background, diversity in Anthropology, and Hopi connections to the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon topics include the proposed Greater Grand Canyon National Monument, the Desert View Watchtower project, river running, and diversity in interpretation.

https://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/heritagevoices/2

 

 

Book Review: Mesa of Sorrows: A History of the Awat’ovi Massacre. By Author, James F. Brooks

Recently I was asked to submit a review of this book for the publication, Kiva: The Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History, which is published by the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society. This is my unedited submission.

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Awat’ovi has experienced its fair share of research, both by the archaeologists’ trowel and the historians’ pen. Upon learning that a non-Hopi researcher had published a book about the Awat’ovi history, I had doubts regarding the intentions of such a book. Would it present new insights? Who among the Hopi community were involved in the research? Would it be another sensationalized account of the tragic events that occurred? More importantly, who was the intended audience? It is no secret the events at Awat’ovi are uncomfortable, unsettling and stand in stark contrast against what “Hopi” represents: cooperation, humility, nonviolent action and respect for all forms of life. It is a traumatic event that for many Hopi is viewed as a private matter; social healing from this history is an on-going process among the Hopi community.

A review of this book requires an examination from a wider perspective of both the researcher and those being researched. Myself, being a person of Hopi descent with degrees in Cultural Anthropology and a subsequent career as a professional archaeologist, I have experienced both ends of the research spectrum. Admittedly due to these circumstances, I carry certain insights and biases with me. Ultimately, my review also takes into account the process in which the book was researched and produced.

Mesa of Sorrows relies largely on previous research, including early Spanish documents, ethnographic and archaeological reports and to a very limited degree, insights from still-living Hopi people. As such, much of the book is spent on historical review, including early Spanish encounters with the Pueblo people of New Mexico and Arizona, and how this history influenced the Hopi attitude towards the Spanish. The Awat’ovi excavations conducted by the Peabody Museum in the 1930s also receive attention. This discussion of the archaeological record gives insight into how the Spanish altered Hopi material culture, including architecture, in their attempts to convert the residents of Awat’ovi.

As an historical overview, this is the strong point of the book, especially for those who are new to the history of Hopi and Awat’ovi. It serves as a good jumping off point for those interested in pursing more about these subjects, with numerous references and footnotes to give direction. Brooks highlights a recurring theme in Hopi oral history, that being of external and internal strife that leads to division within the community, resulting in acts of contention, expulsion, violence, and in some cases, the taking of human life. Illustrating this theme, Brooks weaves together his research into a story that at times reads more like a popular mystery novel than a strict historical account. Brooks is no doubt a talented writer, avoiding use of academic jargon and theory allows the book to appeal to a wide readership.

That being said, I found the retreading of previous research does little to present new insights, unless one is new to this subject matter, which I assume is the audience this book is intended for. The author’s inclusion of Hopi oral histories, many recorded over a century ago, only serves to highlight a glaring omission; that being the voice of the modern Hopi people who represent a “Living Culture”. This lack of a contemporary Hopi voice is a reflection of the level of consultation Brooks conducted with the Hopi tribe prior to the books publication. Again, in reviewing this book it is necessary to do so from the context of what defines “Informed Consent and Research” among Hopi and other Indigenous communities.

The first notice the Hopi Tribe received of the books publication came through an announcement on social media. Subsequently, officials from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (HCPO) requested Brooks come present his book to the Hopi public, tribal officials and to the Cultural Resource Advisory Task Team (CRATT). CRATT is a long-standing advisory group comprised of knowledgeable Hopi elders from various villages, clans and religious societies. They provide consultation on a wide array of issues, including that of on-going scientific inquiry. In addition, the Hopi Tribe has in place its own established protocols of Informed Consent and Research.

During this meeting, Brooks stated that he had previously sent a draft of the book to the tribe but did not receive a response. Granted at the time, tribal officials were embroiled in a much larger issue, that being the auction of Hopi religious and ceremonial items in Paris, France. Thus the social media notice of the books publishing came as a surprise to tribal officials. Although Brooks offered copies of his now published book to those in attendance at the tribal meeting, the gesture did little to reconcile the fact that many tribal officials felt that an important step in the consultation process was overlooked.

Among tribal concerns is a precedent implied by this book, that tribal input should not be a priority for research conducted by outsiders (or “insiders” for that matter). The consultation process as carried out by the Hopi Tribe offers the opportunity for a collaborative effort between outside researchers and tribal members. It entails more than a simple “yes” or “no”, approval or denial of research projects. Meaningful consultation is a reflection of good-faith efforts to present research that has benefits beyond that of the researcher. For decades the Hopi Tribe has extended this hand of assistance, with varying degrees of success. If the author had approached the Hopi Tribe seeking consultation on this topic, would the tribe have objected? That is a possibility. Would the Tribe have offered ways in which to collaborate on the issue? Again that is a possibility.

The generalized nature of this book misses a key opportunity to include contemporary Hopi thinking about Awat’ovi, instead presenting only a reiteration of already documented “facts”. Perhaps the author’s intentions all along were an attempt to side-step controversy by relying on what had already been printed about Awat’ovi. From the Hopi perspective, it is difficult to understand why one would choose to write about such a tragic event. By excluding modern Hopi perspectives, whether intentional or not, only proved to Hopi people that outside researchers feel they do not have to seek Hopi involvement.

One undisputable truth remains, the Awat’ovi event is an extremely traumatic point in Hopi history, one that continues to affect Hopi people and is manifested psychologically among the Hopi community. These effects (i.e. Historical Trauma) are largely ignored within this book which does little in assisting the Hopi people towards healing from the Awat’ovi event. A point not overlooked or taken lightly by those who attended the meeting between the author and tribal officials. Note: the issue of “Historical Trauma” as related to Awat’ovi and other historical events is thoroughly examined in other publications, most notably, Moquis and Kastiilam: Hopis, Spaniards and the Trauma of History, Volume 1, 1540-1679 (Sheridan, et al, 2015). This body of research represents an on-going collaboration between the Hopi Tribe and scholars.

Brooks stated to tribal officials he hoped to work on a second edition of his book, offering to further consult with the Hopi tribe in this effort. His offer was half-heartedly acknowledged by tribal officials and advisors, perhaps a case of too little, too late. Overall, this book will appeal to those who have a general interest in Hopi history and culture. Yet for Hopi people, the book is viewed as another intrusive inquiry they did not ask for. In the end, the author concludes his story and walks away, leaving a still traumatized Hopi population to deal with the repercussions of this history, perhaps with a renewed distrust of academic research. One reviewer of the book states (as printed on the back jacket cover), “James Brooks writes beautifully, and he writes for all of us”, unfortunately, I don’t think that audience included the Hopi themselves

Introducing “Heritage Voices” Podcast, with Jessica Yaquinto & Lyle Balenquah.

This episode introduces the podcast, why it was created, and what you can expect. Co-host Lyle Balenquah, Hopi Archaeologist and educator, interviews host Jessica Yaquinto about her work as an ethnographer and in tribal consultation. Topics include mediating between tribes, community based participatory research, tribes’ perspectives of anthropology, and the proposed Bears Ears National Monument, etc.
https://www.archaeologypodcastnetwork.com/heritagevoices/0

Hopi Tribe Celebrates Bears Ears National Monument Proclamation 

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Bears Ears Landscape

 

For Immediate Release December 29, 2016

Kykotsmovi, Ariz. – Today Hopi Tribal Chairman Herman G. Honanie applauds President Obama’s designation of the Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) under the Antiquities Act of 1906. This is a landmark decision culminating a broad collaborative effort between conservation groups, federal and state governments and five tribal groups including Hopi, Zuni,Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute and The Navajo Nation.

For the Hopi Tribe, the Bears Ears represents a “cultural landscape” that contains pristine wilderness areas; canyons, mesas, deserts, forests, springs, streams and rivers. These lands provide much needed refuge for the flora, fauna and birds found here. All of which are inextricably connected to the longevity of Hopi history and ancestors in this region. This history includes the earliest inhabitants, the Archaic and Ancestral Puebloan cultures.

These Hopi ancestors, the “Hisat’sinom” (People of Long Ago), imbued this landscape with their presence in the hundreds of thousands of archaeological sites located within the new monument. These sites represent the “Footprints of Hopi Ancestors” and include ancient villages, migration routes, artifacts, petroglyphs and the physical remains of buried ancestors. All of which are remembered and maintained through oral tradition, pilgrimage, songs and prayer.

From the beginning, the Hopi Tribe has supported this endeavor through formal tribal resolution and consultation, sharing of traditional knowledge and educating decision-makers about the Hopi connection to this culturally important area. The President’s designation is a direct response to the Hopi Tribe’s desire to have this landscape protected and preserved for future generations of all to enjoy and learn from.

San Juan River Rock Art.

The Hopi Tribe is pleased to see that the President’s Proclamation calls for direct tribal involvement with the long-term management of the monument. “The concept that Tribes will finally be afforded actual, substantive decision making authority versus mere consultation is unprecedented, We hope the Federal Government looks to this innovative model in the future when considering monument designations as they relate to other First Nations.“ said Chairman Honanie.

This co-management will ensure that Hopi concerns, traditional knowledge and use of the area is maintained and respected. The Hopi Tribe is dedicated to ensure that there will be a continuation of the unprecedented collaborative efforts that lead to this positive step in public lands conservation.

The Hopi Tribe commends President Obama for setting a high standard of public lands policy, one that places priority on the preservation of wilderness, as well as priority of the values of groups who hold these lands with reverence. The Hopi Tribe moves forward with dedication and willingness to work with our tribal neighbors, conservation groups and federal and state agencies in the establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument.

Through these continued efforts, the Hopi Tribe hopes to ensure that future generations of Hopi people have their own cultural ground to stand upon; providing them the opportunity to interact with their ancestral past of the Bears Ears as we have done since time immemorial.

 

Obama: Make The Greater Grand Canyon National Heritage Monument A Reality.

A recent op-ed I helped write in collaboration with the Hopi Tribes Office of the Chairman and Congressional Representative Grijalva.
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By Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Herman Honanie

The Hopi tribe considers the Grand Canyon a place of origin, a spiritual home and sanctuary of cultural tradition. The tribe’s history and culture cannot be separated from it. For generations the entire community has considered the Canyon hallowed ground. Few issues unite the tribe like the continued preservation of the Grand Canyon and the surrounding area, and that’s why today the Hopi strongly support the proposed Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument. President Obama should use his power under the Antiquities Act to establish this monument and protect this sensitive land while there’s still time.

Hopi ancestors left behind abundant and tangible proof of their existence here. These footprints of Hopi history include ancient villages, migration routes, artifacts, petroglyphs and the physical remains of buried ancestors. These are remembered and maintained through oral tradition, pilgrimage, song and prayer. Among the many other values a well-preserved Grand Canyon provides the people of this nation and our entire planet, these culturally important places must be protected to ensure Hopi people can continue to interact with their ancestral past. This interaction forms a living connection between Hopi people, their ancestors and the Grand Canyon itself, which is just as important today as it has ever been.

This connection continually reminds Hopi of the responsibility to preserve essential qualities of life: clean air and water, unspoiled wilderness — and the peace of mind that comes with knowing future generations will enjoy these same gifts. The Hopi tribe is aware these qualities are under continued ecological threat from uranium mining, unregulated development, loss of old-growth forests and the degradation of watershed areas. The Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument will end those threats and protect one of the world’s greatest unspoiled natural areas once and for all.

When the balance of nature is disrupted, especially by something as dramatic as the construction of a mine or the diversion of a river, the landscape cannot simply be put back together as it once was. Such impacts negatively affect not only the natural and cultural values of the Grand Canyon region, but the spiritual values that are at the heart of Hopi tradition.

That’s why Chairman Honanie hand-delivered a letter to President Obama in April urging him to establish the Greater Grand Canyon Heritage National Monument before he leaves office. It applauded his efforts to recognize and preserve culturally important Native American sites around the country and asked him to “afford the Hopi, and all other Tribal Nations that hold the Grand Canyon as sacred, the same respect and dignity by bestowing Monument status on the Grand Canyon watershed.”

The Hopi tribe is firmly committed to working with presidential staff, congressional representatives, federal, state and local agencies in the development of this monument. In doing so, the tribe will rely on its traditional values of humility, cooperation, dedication and mutual respect. These values are the foundation of its unified call for the protection and preservation of lands that remain as important to the Hopi cultural landscape today as they have been for centuries.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) is the ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources. Herman Honanie is the chairman of the Hopi tribe.

https://origin-nyi.thehill.com/opinion/op-ed/306460-obama-should-protect-grand-canyon-while-theres-still-time

Spirit of Place: Preserving the Cultural Landscape of the Bears Ears

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Spirit Within

1200 A.D.

Dawn breaks over a secluded canyon, spreading a sliver of orange light along the rim as a lone canyon wren welcomes the morning, singing another day into existence. As the light increases in intensity, it illuminates a sheer cliff face, revealing layers of geologic time; ancient cross-bedded sand dunes and million-year old ocean floors that contain the fossilized remains of creatures whose descendants now inhabit salty seas hundreds of miles away. The colors of the stone facade warm into a kaleidoscope; red, orange, pink, yellow, tan, brown, purple, each one blending into the other as if a giant brush of watercolors was swept across the surface. At the final moment of reveal, the sunlight works its way to the canyon bottom where at the last precipice of stone, an alcove appears. At first as an arch of darkness, then as its interior starts to glow with reflected light, the details of the alcove come into view.

Inside, a cluster of structures stands, some 2-stories tall, tiny T-Shaped doorways peer out into the world. Built of stone, mortar and adobe, the protruding roof beams begin to cast long shadows against the coursed masonry. The human occupants of this small village, the Hisat’sinom (“People of Long Ago”) are already beginning their day. Men collect their tools and set off to tend to fields spread out in the canyon bottoms or to embark on hunting trips on the mesa tops above. Women gather together, teaching their daughters the fine art of creating intricate baskets and ceramics decorated with the metaphors of their existence; clan lineages, epic migrations and silent prayers for moisture and long life. Here and there, children, turkeys and dogs fill the spaces with their cries, laughter and energy.

This canyon and beyond is their world. A brief moment of time in which they create an understanding that is embedded in the existence of experiences. Seasons pass and the revolutions of the sun, moon and stars signal times of growth, harvest, ceremony and celebration. Old ones are laid to rest with reverence, while young ones are welcomed in to fill the voids. All the while, the people continue on in their journeys, building upon knowledge of previous ancestors, each generation adding their own energies to a collective knowledge as they face an uncertain future.

Ancestral Hopi Pueblo. San Juan River, UT.

All across the area known today as the Bears Ears, this scene plays out in canyons, mesa tops, and river bottoms in thousands of similar ancient villages. For millennia, the ancestors of modern Hopi people lived in this region, refining the practical know-how and spiritual energy that allowed them to not only exist, but thrive in a seemingly harsh environment. This knowledge and experience would be passed from generation to generation, ultimately culminating and expressed in the contemporary culture of Hopi people, reflecting a connection that spans thousands of years across hundreds of miles.

Eventually the revolutions of the earth out distance the early inhabitants, all that is left of their passing are their ancient homes, tools, textiles, ceramics, jewelry and images carved and painted upon the cliff walls. In some cases, the physical remains of revered family are interred within and around the structures, left as spiritual guardians of a holy space. These are the tangible remains of their existence, ones that we can see and in some cases, touch and feel with our own hands; while some are experienced in the relative comfort of museums, archives and research centers across the country.

Others, if we are lucky enough, are encountered in our own wanderings across the same landscapes the Ancient Ones once called home. Under the same sun, moon and stars they once gazed upon, we can hold in our hands the results of thousands of years of living within a natural world. For many of us, Indigenous and otherwise, this is still the case and we are afforded the opportunity to glimpse into their being.

Yet there is another aspect of this landscape that cannot be readily seen or touched by our human hands. This is the Spirit Of Place. It is expressed as the solitude of the evening sunset as the winds sigh a relaxed breath, the sudden rush of excitement watching a falcon pursue its prey across the grasslands, the overwhelming expression of humility as we gaze upon stars, planets and other celestial bodies in the dark night sky. All of these experiences are afforded us due to the landscapes of the Bears Ears remaning in a relative pristine condition. The open space of the canyons, mesas, deserts, forests, springs, streams and rivers remain connected to one another and to those wild things of earth, water and sky that call this place home. These landscapes are not broken up into islands of refuge, as is the case with so many areas due to the encroachment of human development upon the natural space.

Comb Ridge Sunset

 

This is the spirit the Ancient Ones also witnessed. Compelling them to record their expressions of those experiences upon the cliff faces, conveyed through the beauty of their arts and remembered in story, song and prayer. This is the legacy that modern Hopi descendants still carry with them. The connection to this ancestral spirit still resonates in the contemporary culture of Hopi people. It is a connection that transcends both time and space, so that as a Hopi person enacts their own ceremony, both public and private, they are recalling the hardships and accomplishments of their ancestors.

The history of Hopi people is recorded upon the landscapes of their ancestors. Thus the maintaining of Hopi culture is more than merely an act of writing down these events and places, it must encompass the actual preservation of those places where the ancestors dwell.

An important aspect of Cultural Preservation, from the Hopi perspective, requires that one be able to experience the natural settings of their ancestors; to be able to journey back to those places and see first-hand how their ancestors lived. To walk among the centuries-old homes where generations lived, to hold in their hands the pieces of art created by hands of distant relatives, to sit upon towering buttes and recognize landscapes that are recalled from prayer. For modern Hopi people, our oral histories contain the memories and essence of Hopi ancestors and these histories remain viable aspects of Hopi culture.

Being able to actually experience our ancestral landscapes aids in the understanding of what a “Cultural Landscape” really is. In an age when Indigenous oral histories are continually challenged as viable source information, at least for some in academia, the need to preserve our histories becomes paramount. This includes not just the oral histories, but the actual, for-real-life sites where our ancestors lived. Granting future generations of Hopi to follow their ancestor’s footprints across the landscape.

Ferguson and Kuwanwisiwma write (2004),

Ancestral villages that have fallen into ruin are not dead places whose only meaning comes from scientific values. The Hopi ancestors who lived in these villages still spiritually occupy these places, and these ancestors play an integral role in the contemporary Hopi ceremonies that bring rain, fertility, and other blessings for the Hopi people and their neighbors throughout the world. ‘Itaakuku’ ­­–footprints –are thus a part of the living legacy of the ancestors, and they play a vital role in the religious activities essential to the perpetuation of Hopi society.

In essence, by acknowledging our ancestors existence, they acknowledge ours through the answering of our prayers. This understanding provides a continual connection between modern Hopi people and their ancestors. This connection is contained within the landscapes, wherein Hopi ancestors interacted with their natural environments, leaving a legacy behind that their descendants must now strive to continue.

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3 At Rest: Hopi Ceremonial Regalia

The Bears Ears movement is about more than just preservation for preservation sake; more than drawing a line on a map to protect a fragile ecosystem from the development of the fossil-fuel industry. It’s about more than protection of archaeological sites from wanton vandalism or preservation of these sites for solely scientific purposes. It’s about the protection of Indigenous cultures so that we retain our ability to pass on our traditional knowledge to future generations. Protection of this landscape grants us the opportunity to share with the outside world that we are more than historical footnotes, to show that our connections to ancestral lands traverse distance and time. Only through these continued efforts will future generations of Hopi people have their own cultural ground to stand upon; providing them the opportunity to interact with their ancestral past as we have done since time immemorial.

At the heart of this unified tribal effort is a call for Respect. Respect for a landscape that holds the spirit and essence of Indigenous history and culture. One can imagine that it is 100 years from the present day, at a canyon not unlike the one described in the opening lines of this writing. At the rim of the canyon, a few moments before the sunlight graces the sandstone cliffs from the eastern horizon, here stands a small group of unified tribal members. They have gathered to witness the same scene experienced by those early families. They have gathered to pay their respects, as a lone canyon wren sings the day into existence, to offer reverence and say to their ancestors, We Are Still Here.

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Butler Wash Petroglyphs, UT

For more information on how you can support this unified tribal endeavor, follow the link here: The Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition is led by Hopi, Navajo, Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute and Zuni tribes and supported by 25 other tribes.