The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 108 pages of information about The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi.

“After this they were always great friends because they had found out they both had the same idea about something.”


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For some years the writer has been merely a friendly neighbor to these friendly people, and this past summer she spent some time among her Hopi friends, studying their present-day life, domestic and ceremonial, and listening to their stories.  The foregoing pages record her observations, supplemented largely by the recordings of well-known authorities who have studied these people.

To her own mind it is clear that the Hopi are living today by their age-old and amazingly primitive traditions, as shown by their planting, hunting, house building, textile and ceramic arts, and their ceremonies for birth, marriage, burial, rain-making, etc.  Even their favorite stories for amusement are traditional.  Surely this can not last much longer in these days when easy transportation is bringing the modern world to their very door.  Only a few years ago they were geographically isolated and had been so for centuries.  Culturally, the Hopi are not a new, raw people, but old, mature, long a sedentary and peaceful people, building up during the ages a vast body of traditional literature embodying law, religion, civic and social order, with definite patterns for the whole fabric of their life from the cradle to the grave and on into Maskim, the home of Hopi Souls.  It is because they have so long been left alone, with their own culture so well suited to their nature and to their environment, that we find them so satisfied to remain as they are, friendly, even cordial, but conservative.

The Hopi is glad to use the white man’s wagon, cook stove, sugar, and coffee, but he prefers his own religion, government, social customs—­the great things handed down in his traditions.  Their very conservatism is according to one of their oldest traditions, which is: 

=Tradition for Walking Beside the White Man But in Footsteps of Fathers=

In 1885, Wicki, chief of the Antelope Society at Walpi, told Mr. A.M.  Stephen one of the most complete and interesting variants ever collected of the Snake myth.

One of its interesting details concerns a prophesy of the manner in which the Hopitah are to take on the White man’s culture.  In plain words the Spider Woman tells Tiyo that a time will come when men with white skins and a strange tongue shall come among the Hopitah, and the Snake Brotherhood, having brave hearts, will be first to make friends and learn good from them.  But the Hopitah are not to follow in the white men’s footsteps but to walk beside them, always keeping in the footsteps of their fathers![36]

That is just what the Hopi are doing today.

[Footnote 36:  Stephen, A.M., Hopi Tales:  Jour.  Amer.  Folklore, vol. 42, 1929, p. 37.]

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The Unwritten Literature of the Hopi from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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