Their way of life is now somewhat modernized (itself a problem causing internal dissension - a division between so-called progressives and traditionals). But we can perhaps begin to appreciate their Way, at least a little bit, if in our own imaginations we can see ourselves standing at dusk on the edge of a mesa a thousand feet above the surrounding desert. The colors of land and sky are extraordinary. It is always a joy that what in harsh daylight is often dull blues and browns can be so filled with such rich colors, with pinks and violets, and reds and burnt oranges and endless varieties in between.
The life appears simple; the main element of diet was once corn. Water, until modern times, had been very scarce. The central thesis of the religious teaching is that if the Hopi carry their responsibilities, continue to enact correctly the ceremonials, then the world will be kept in balance. Yet, this same teaching tells them that the time will come when all this will be endangered. Their way of life will be on the verge of destruction, and with it the whole world.
Since many readers will wonder what the Hopi might think of what is in this little book, and whether I have spoken to the Hopi directly about it, I will describe below the one visit to the Hopi, which my life circumstances have permitted, and which took place on Easter weekend in l985.
I arrived on the first mesa in the late afternoon on Saturday, with only a name (Grandfather David) as a guiding light. I first stopped at what was a museum/art gallery, and spoke to a young and pleasent Indian man, who was clerking behind the counter. I asked after Grandfather David, and was advised to go back somewhat the way I had come and to stop at the first little village.
This I did, and when I arrived at the first settlemen I then saw two little boys (about l0 or ll) who I asked for directions to Grandfather David's. They said they knew where to go and that they were going that wayand why didn't I give them a ride and they would show me. We were soon heading back toward the museum and away from the village, at which point I stopped and let them out saying, that I didn't think they were helping me, but rather helping themselves to a ride. They did not argue with my conclusion and so I turned around and again drove into the village.
On this trip I encountered a teenage girl playing with a basketball in a school yard. She directed me further into the village. In fact there seemed to be two villages. The one near the highway, with its early fifties suburbia look, and one hidden below a rise, which consisted of clusters of flat-roofed cinderblock structures, narrow convoluted dirt roads, pickup trucks, children and dogs.
Here I came upon two men working on repairing a mail box. They seemed to be father and son, with the elder one complaining to the younger about the way the job had been done, and about how it needed to be done differently and better. They wore overalls and plaid shirts, and except for obvious indian faces, could have been farmers anywhere in America. They sent me further on into the old village, after I had stated my request to them.
Very soon I found myself going down a steep hill, leaving the mesa itself and heading toward the desert below. I turned around and reentered the village at the place I had left it, and stopped at the first house. There was a young man working in a garden, and I went to him and asked if he knew Grandfather David and where he might be found. His face was rather hard and cold and he somewhat gruffly told me to go ask his mother at the house. He said he hadn't been around for a while and didn't know. His suspicious look and statement made me wonder whether or not he might recently have been in jail or prison.
At the house the woman who answered the door asked me if it was David _______ or David _______ I was looking for. I replied that the David I was looking for was a hundred and two years old and suppposed to be blind in both eyes. She said "Oh, you want David ________", and sent me back in among the cinderblock clusters.
As I left, the young man in the garden did give me a warmer goodby and as well a good luck.
The village was now beginning to fill up with cars and after finding a place to park I spoke to a middle aged Indian wearing sunglasses. Even before I could ask my question, he said, "You want Grandfather David and he lives right around there" (pointing). "How did you know what I wanted?" I said. "Mental telepathy" he said pointing his finger now at his head. (later I realized it was the same older man from the mailbox, dressed somehow differently, and essentially making fun of my confusion).
Around the corner I ran into two little boys playing with metal cars in the dirt. When I enquired after Grandfather David, they jumped up and said "In here" and ran into the house saying "Grandpa, Grandpa, you have a visitor" and beckoning me inside.
Thus, finally welcomed, I entered.
Inside was cool, and a little dark. A young Indian sat on a chair facing the door. Dressed in cowboy boots, hat, shirt and jeans, he leaned back against the wall with a beer can in his hand. Beside him, lying on a narrow bench was a tiny old man, who immediatly jumped up, betraying no signs of the stiffness of movement one ordinarily associates with age. The children introduced us and we shook hands. In fact we held hands in a rather pleasent fashion throughout most of the rest of our brief conversation.
I introduced myself and conveyed greetings to him from the woman who had sent me. This was done in English. After a bit of this, I told him that I had come to speak to him about the Prophecy. At this point the atmosphere became slightly cooler, and Grandfather David began to speak in what I assumed was the Hopi language, with the cowboy acting as translator. I was then asked what it was that was my motive, was I a writer of some kind, because people had been getting information about the prophecy and making money for themselves and not sharing it with Grandfather David. The cowboy's manner while relating this was somewhat abrupt.
I tried to assure them that this was not the case, but it was clear to me that some other form of expression was needed in order to convey the real nature of my interest. So I said: "I think I know who the Elder Brother People are."
Simultaneously two rather interesting things began to happen. One was that the room had already begun to fill up with other people. Apparently there had been some kind of public ceremonial (the many cars I had seen), which was now over. In addition, at my statement, Grandfather David, who had been slightly swaying as many blind people do, became as still as a rock. In fact the whole room, intially becoming somewhat noisy, now became quite silent. I realized that whatever I said next had to communicate some kind of essence. So I gathered myself together and tried to speak in as plain and as heartfelt a manner as was possible for me.
It went something like this...
"The original peoples of this land have always known that the Earth was a living being. The white people who invaded this land have lost this knowledge, and because of their science no longer think or understand the world in this way. But there now exists some white people, who again know that the Earth is our Mother, and whose knowledge of this truth is still 'scientific', still comes to the truth in the way needed by scientific thinking. These people, who know this, come
from the East, in fact their movement started in Germany, and I would like to bring about a meeting between these people and the Hopi leaders."
A strange expression came to Grandfather David's face, but I had little time to understand it, for a young woman stepped inbetween us and said: "I want you to leave. Now. I don't want you disturbing this old man's dreams."
I looked at her, at Grandfather David, and at the cowboy who had risen and was looking at me in a very hard way. I excused myself and left. I drove off of the reservation and back to the main highway. It was late, the end of dusk, and after finding myself a large roadsign to park behind, I lay down in my car and went to sleep.
The next morning, Easter morning, I awoke at sunrise and began the long drive home. Oddly I felt hopeful. While things did not go the way I had imagined, I believed they had gone as they must, and that with faith I would eventually find the right way to fulfill what I experienced as an obligation toward the true understanding of this mystery.