Teater 2012 travel blog

Eagle for this year's ceremony.

Village on the Mesa


The 4:30 sunrise is odd…..but since it is really 6:30 our time I don’t mind…..I’m up….reading and I can watch the sun come up over the desert. Usually I’m watching from inside because I didn’t pack a lot of clothes for the mid-forties wake up temperature.

I went back to the church and worked on wiring…..Linda and the kids stayed at the school and painted. They must be working hard because when I come back from lunch, their covered in paint and there were a couple different people from the West Virginia group that commented to me on how much help the kids were. Clint was definitely spent…..I had to take him back to the camper right after lunch for some air conditioning and video game recovery time.

As hard as they are working, Linda has found time to make friends with the Hopi couple that makes all the meals. They invited us to come back to their house after lunch on the Second Mesa. I’m much more comfortable wiring a church than making small talk with strangers, but we decided to go……I’m not sure who was being pushed more out of their comfort zone…..Lilli or me.

Their village is very different than Morton……it is a collection of trailers, cinderblock buildings, modular homes, stone homes, and abandoned buildings. There is stuff everywhere in the roads, drives, yards and porches. Doris and Danny’s home used to be a very beautiful stone home……but has had parts removed and replaced with cinderblock…..and is very basic (no hot water)…..I’m not sure there is anything comparable in Morton. The Hopi are a matriarchal society…..which means when they marry, they go to live in the wife’s family home.

Doris and Danny aren’t Christian…….they get enough grief from their family for working at the Mission School and hanging out with the Christians. Such a large part of their life is rituals, that becoming a Christian means losing their Hopi identity. Very fascinating to hear about their village….growing up….their lifestyle….their ceremonies……interesting that Doris’s view of Christianity is just another way to worship their gods. While we were talking, one of Danny’s relatives stopped by looking for some financial help due to his “sickness”…..which Doris explained was alcoholism.

Danny took us to meet his sister and brother, who live in his family’s home…..and then took us to his other brother’s house to show us the falcons and eagle they have for a ceremony next month. Apparently in May each clan goes out to find an eagle on the cliffs….and the smallest one in the search party gets lowered down the cliff to catch the eagle. In July, they have the “Going Home” ceremony where the eagle is returned to its home……however the eagle is no longer alive as the eagle is sacrificed and then the feathers are used in their crafts to provide protection for the coming year. Not real sure what happens to the falcons…..I was a bit taken back by this sacrifice of the eagle….and trying not to show it. It was a beautiful creature up close.

Danny and Doris then took us out into the desert to see the old Hopi school grounds. It was about midway down the mesa, with a beautiful overlook of the valley. Danny pointed out how they kids used to walk down from the top of the mesa to school……it was a rugged, steep trail…..quite the trek to school. Since we aren’t normally welcomed into their community, it was a very special opportunity to see so much of their village, homes and grounds.

Afterwards we went back to the church for a dinner prepared by some of the Hopi Christians. We had flat bread tacos…….flatbread, beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and just a little beef. The couple that runs the church were going to share about their mission……but we came back to the Mission School……long day for the kids……and parents.



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