The Traditions of the Hopi by H. R. Voth
Index Previous Next
107. THE LAST FIGHT WITH THE NAVAHO. 1
The Navaho had repeatedly raided the other villages, though the Oraíbi had never had a real encounter with that warlike tribe, by which they were surrounded, but they did not allow themselves to be lulled into a false safety. They kept their bows in order, their quivers full of arrows, and did not forget to constantly practice shooting. One day while a number of the men had been practicing with their bows and arrows on the west side of the village, at the foot of the mesa, where they had filled several sand piles with arrows, the news was called down to them from the edge of the mesa that a large cloud of dust was seen in one of the wooded canyons towards the north-east, and that it looked as if a great many people were approaching the village. It was towards evening. The men gathered up their bows and arrows and hastened to the village. Here the roofs were covered with expectant people, whose faces were turned towards the approaching dust cloud about six miles towards the north-east. It soon became clear to all that an expedition was undertaken against the village of Oraíbi on the part of the Navaho. Suddenly the Hopi
noticed that the approaching enemy halted and evidently had struck camp for the night. A great many camp-fires were soon seen at the place where they camped. These were kept up all night. The greatest excitement prevailed in the village. The different clans were invited to assemble in the ancestral homes of their respective clans, where councils were being held during the greater part of the night, as to what was to be done to meet the approaching danger. After these councils were over the village crier invited all the people to the public plaza of the village. Firewood was being brought together and a large fire was kept up in the center of the plaza. The situation was discussed in all its aspects. People encouraged one another. Those who were expected to set out as warriors were especially encouraged; they were told that they should be careful of their lives and that any plunder that might be found on the enemies, such as weapons, clothing, etc., should be owned by whomsoever succeeded in taking it. All narratives about this event agree in this fact, that a number of Hopi, who either were entirely discouraged from the beginning or saw no hope of their gaining the victory, and who perhaps acted as traitors, went to the Navaho during the night. They took with them such presents. as buckskins, blankets, different articles of clothing, etc. Arriving at the Navaho camp each one approached some Navaho warrior and told him: "I want you to kill me to-morrow in the battle." "What will be the price for it?" he was asked by the Navaho warrior. "This," the Hopi answered, and handed him the present that he had brought. Hereupon the Navaho warrior would puncture the foot of the Hopi, near the ankle, over a pot that had been put into the ground, and the blood thus extracted would be allowed to run into the pot. The loss of blood so weakened the Hopi warriors that they could only walk slowly on the next day and were easily singled out by the Navaho. These Hopi hereupon returned to the village, not of course telling their brethren what they had done at the Navaho camp.
The Navaho during the night sang their war songs and performed their war ceremonies. Early in the morning at the so-called white rising--as the Hopi called the early dawn--the Navaho broke camp and made towards the village of Oraíbi. At the so-called yellow dawn--as the Hopi called the dawn immediately before sunrise--they had reached a place north of the village where they ascended the mesa and filled the entire space north of the village.
The Hopi had not been idle during the night. After they were through with the councils and had made up their minds that they would have to fight, they began to prepare for the approaching encounter. p. 260 The Hopi at that time had a great many buckskins Every warrior wrapped two or even more of these around the upper part of his body, taking care that the thick head and neck part of the buckskin covered his chest or abdomen. Arrows and bows were secured wherever they could be gotten. Furthermore, they armed themselves with stone tomahawks, boomerangs, and throwing-sticks of every description. Some put the head-dresses peculiar to their societies on their heads, for instance, those belonging to the Horn Society, two horns; those belonging to the Agave Society, one horn, and so on. Most of them tied some feathers into their hair. When all were ready they lined up north of the village, filling the whole space from the rim of the east side to the edge on the west side of the mesa. The warrior chief of the Burrowing Owl clan performed certain war rites, the same, it is said, that are still performed as a part of the great Soyál ceremony.
A water tray was placed on the ground, many fetishes and amulets, bones, etc., were placed around the medicine bowl, and a number of war songs chanted. At the conclusion of the ceremony the bodies of all the warriors were decorated with certain spots, the material used being a peculiar stone, which is found west of Oraíbi. This stone is called pöökóngnayöö (war god vomisis). The war chief pulverized this stone, mixed it with the water from the medicine bowl, and decorated the bodies of the warriors by rubbing his hand over the outside of the lower and upper leg close to the knee, the outside of the lower and upper arm close to the elbow, and over his heart and back. It is, in fact, the same decoration which may now be seen on the body of the snake dancers.
By this time the Navaho began to come nearer and the Hopi drew up in line ready to meet them. The leader of the Navaho, being mounted on a pony and dressed in a large piece of bayetta (a red European cloth), with not only his but also his pony's body covered, rode up to the Hopi. After saying something to them, which, however, history has failed to record, he shot the first arrow into the crowd of the Hopi, without hitting any of them. Hereupon he swung around his pony and (lashed back to his people, who now rushed towards the Hopi, and the battle was opened, The sun had not yet risen. The battle at once became very fierce; the Agave, Snake, Lizzard, Burrowing Owl, and Squash clans took the lead. They were armed with shields, war clubs, tomahawks, etc. They were followed by those fighting with bows and arrows. While the first line served with their shields as a protection, striking, of course, their assailants with their war clubs wherever they had an opportunity, the archers
shot into the enemy through the spaces between the warriors in front of them. The Hopi succeeded in driving the Navaho slowly backward to a place a few miles north-east of Oraíbi where they drove them off the mesa. One of the Navaho had lived in Oraíbi a while, and in fact had been initiated into the Wû'wûchim society. He could speak the Hopi language and called out to one of the Hopi warriors by the name of Chiníwa: "You had better fight us here where we now are and do not follow us, but remain where you are, because you will all be killed. Our people have not yet all arrived; there are many more farther east.'' Chiníwa conveyed this information to his brethren warriors but without avail. The Hopi followed the Navaho, and in the valley both drew up a line of battle ready to again engage in regular battle. While the two lines of warriors were facing each other, a Navaho woman, being mounted on a pony, grabbed a lance from a Navaho warrior, dashed towards the line of the Hopi, followed by her people. They broke through the line of Hopi and thus divided the latter into two parties. These they at once surrounded, which placed the Hopi at a disadvantage.
The sun was by this time just rising and the Hopi saw that the Navaho warriors were simply dressed in their loin cloths, some having on moccasins. Their bodies were decorated with red paint over which they had drawn their fingers when it was still wet, making their bodies full of lines. Their hair was hanging down their backs loose. They were all mounted on ponies. The Hopi, however, had this advantage, that their bodies were well wrapped with heavy buckskins, while those of the Navaho were nude, so that a great many more of the arrows of the Hopi proved fatal to their enemies than vice versa. The Hopi say that many of the Navaho arrows were shot into the buckskins that were wrapped around their bodies and were dangling down on all sides from their bodies. This accounts partly for the fact that the Hopi, though outnumbered by their enemies, were not exterminated.
The battle lasted until late in the afternoon. The Hopi would break through the circles of the warriors surrounding them, but were always surrounded again by new parties, so that the circles surrounding the fighting Hopi became smaller and smaller. The Hopi say that the Navaho were much better provided with shields than they were, so that they could cover themselves completely when encircling the Hopi, but the Hopi say they would not always shoot at the enemies just in front of them but would sometimes threaten them and then turn around quickly and then shoot at somebody else from the side and past their shields. They also say that the
Navaho in charging them on their ponies would often, after they had shot an arrow, or saw that they were threatened by some special Hopi warrior, turn their ponies around quickly and lower themselves by the side of the pony, while they dashed away, but often the Hopi still succeeded in shooting them even in that position.
The arms of the Navaho also consisted of bows, arrows, shields, and war clubs, and some few had guns and pistols which they had procured from the Spaniards. In the afternoon a small party of Hopi succeeded in climbing the point of the mesa north-east of the battle-field, called Shongóhtoika. They were followed by some of the Navaho warriors, but the latter soon had to give up the pursuit on account of the many rocks and boulders that are scattered close to the mesa. The party of Hopi remained at the edge of the mesa looking down upon the battle-field. Here the nephew of Chiníwa had in the meanwhile been shot in the foot so that he could not walk. His uncle Chiníwa said to him: ''You will probably not get away here." "No, perhaps not," the young man answered, ''but I want at least to shoot some one yet." So he laid all his arrows that he still had in his quiver on his lap and shot into the body of the Navaho, when the latter at once surrounded him and killed him with their lances and clubs, and tore from his body his buckskin and clothing, In the meanwhile the men on the edge of the mesa counseled with one another whether they should go down and assist their hard-pressed brethren, but only three were willing. These went down and hid behind rocks, towards which a party of Navaho was driven by a party of Hopi. When the retreating Navaho had come within shooting distance of the three Hopi hidden behind the rocks, the latter killed a number of them from their safe shelter. Hereupon the Navaho scattered, giving the Hopi who were pursuing them an opportunity to also rush behind the rocks where they were greeted by their three valiant brethren. All now ascended the mesa where they proceeded in a north-westerly direction along the edge of the mesa. They were preceded by the party of Navaho who had pursued them to the foot of the mesa, and who had in the meanwhile rounded on their very swift ponies on the point of the mesa and ascended on the point of the opposite side, but it seems that this party of Navaho for some reason or other--because they were afraid, the Hopi say--failed to attack them. All they did was to wave the buckskins, clothing, etc., that they had taken from their slain brethren, and mock them.
The Hopi finally found a place where they could descend the
mesa, crossed the small valley, which is quite deep, stopped at one place and then reached a small spring by the name of Ohówikba. Here they rested, as they were very thirsty and a number of them were wounded. The latter asked their comrades to dress their wounds the best they could then carry them home the rest of the way, which was done. The Navaho party who had pursued these Hopi had not followed them, they had descended the mesa at some other place, but made for the village of Oraíbi. In the valley where the main battle-ground was, the fighting had also ceased by this time. The different groups of fighting Hopi had succeeded in cutting their way through their assailants and were running towards the village, leaving a great many dead and wounded behind. The Navaho had also lost very heavily, but it is said that the Navaho carried their wounded away while the battle was raging, taking them all to a certain place from which they later took them with them, tying them on their ponies. The retreating Hopi were followed by bands of Navaho, while other bands of the latter tried to outflank them and to reach the village first. 1
While both parties were drawing closer to the village, the Hopi retreating and the Navaho following them, more or less fighting was going on, about which various details are still mentioned when the events of this important day of Hopi history are related. For instance, when the Hopi had arrived on top of the first mesa south of the battle-field, six of them hid in a stone inclosure. Whether it was a sheep corral or a temporary shelter that some Hopi had built, is not known. Here they were at once attacked by a party of Navaho whom they kept at a respectable distance with their well-directed arrows. The Navaho seeing that they could not overpower these men with their bows and arrows procured from some of their comrades some firearms. With these they kept shooting at the imperfect inclosure until they had killed five out of the six men. The sixth one jumped out of the inclosure, rushed through the attacking party, and jumped down at a steep though not very high place from the
mesa. Of the various missiles that were fired at him, none proved to be fatal. The Navaho followed him to the edge of the mesa, but had not the courage to jump after him. He hid away under a projecting rock where he stayed all day.
While this happened, one of the Hopi warriors, who had proven himself especially brave, had rounded the point of this mesa and was making his way towards the village of Oraíbi. He was followed by several Navaho who hit him several times, but owing to the fact that he was well wrapped with good buckskins, none of the shots took fatal effect. These Navaho, as the Hopi believe, became somewhat superstitious about this man. The latter claim that the pursuing party abandoned pursuit of this one warrior, saving to one another: "Do not follow that man. He is very brave and will surely kill you." Some of the Hopi by this time discovered that among the Navaho warriors there were some Hopi from the village of Wálpi. These Wálpi had so thoroughly disguised themselves with paint and by combing their hair in the same manner as the Navaho that they had not been recognized before. One of the first to recognize them was the man lying under the rock, who noticed that the short front hair of one of the Wálpi dropped from behind his ear. Soon the brave warrior just mentioned also recognized the Wálpi, and at once addressed them, saving: "So, you are with them too, we thought there were only Navaho." "Oh!" the Wálpi said, "we are being recognized now. Let us kill him. If we do not kill him he will certainly tell on us in Oraíbi. But how shall we kill him, shall we attack him and shoot him?" "No," some one said, "let us go and capture him." Hereupon some of them dismounted and they as well as some on horseback formed a ring around the man and then closed in on him, He broke the skull of one of them with his tomahawk, whereupon he was immediately overpowered and thrown upon the ground. One of the Wálpi by the name of Shíita knelt on his breast and forced a lance into his throat, killing him. They took all his clothes and buckskins, cut open his breast, tore out his heart, which they took with them. All this was observed and later on reported by the man hidden under the rock not far away. The Wálpi then took their victim on a horse and took him with them to Wálpi, where they placed him in a small hut or inclosure which a herder had built for a temporary shelter throwing stones upon him.
In the meanwhile troops of Navaho, among whom were many women, had reached the village where the Hopi who had remained behind had assembled their flocks of sheep on the plaza, which the
Hopi say was crowded with sheep. They had closed up the passages to the plaza with beams, rocks, etc., placing also guards at every opening, watching the sheep. When the Navaho arrived, however, they tore down the barriers in the opening on the north side and drove the sheep out. The Navaho women were busily engaged in shelling the corn north of the village and loading it on their ponies. One Hopi watching one of the approaches was shot in the leg by one of the Navaho. The Navaho seemed to be in a hurry, for they only rifled some of the houses on the north side of the village! The arrival of the Hopi warriors by that time may also have been a cause of their not carrying their depredation farther than they did. When they had loaded a number of ponies with corn they left the village, taking also with them all the sheep that had been assembled in the plaza. Somewhat north-east from the main battle-field they camped. Here they also had, during the battle, taken a great many of their dead and wounded, and they later admitted that there were a great many of them. They tied the dead, as well as the wounded, on their ponies, and then left for their homes. It is also said that a great many of their ponies that they took with them had been wounded in the fight, and later on they told the Hopi that on the way quite a number of them died. These they left behind them. Also a number of the wounded died while they were traveling, and it is said that all that died were buried at a place somewhere west of Kí'shiwuu, a place about sixty miles north-east of Oraíbi. It is also said that there was a great deal of mourning among the Navaho as they returned from this expedition. Most of the information on the Navaho side was later on brought to Oraíbi by the aforesaid Mâ'yalolo and another Navaho by the name of Lâ'totovi, both of whom had been with the Hopi for some time, and had been initiated into their Wû'wûchim society.
After the Navaho had left the village, stragglers of the Hopi warriors kept coming in. Many of these were wounded; some of them had to be carried to the village. These called the ones who carried them Fathers. All the wounded were placed in an ancestral home of the Coyote clan. Here the "Fathers" of the wounded remained with their "Children." During the night and the following day some died. During this time there was a great deal of mourning and weeping. The corpses of those who died were taken out and cared for by those who had cared for them while they were sick. On the fourth day those who still survived were taken to their homes, that is, not where their families were, but to the homes of their parents,
where they were then taken care of. Some of the wounded Hopi later on also died, while a great many of them recovered. 1
258:1 Told by Qöyáwaima (Oraíbi).
263:1 The number killed on both sides will perhaps never be fully ascertained, but the aforementioned Navaho, Mâ'yalolo had become a member of one of the Hopi societies, later on came to Oraíbi, and he is authority for the statement, which the Oraíbi keep reiterating, that a great many more Navaho were killed than Hopi. He also stated, which of course is also substantiated by the Hopi, that a great many Navaho ponies were also killed. It is reasonable to believe that this statement is correct from the fact, already mentioned, that the Navaho were fighting with naked bodies, while the Hopi were well protected by buckskins which they had wound around them. It seems that they were about equally well armed, and the courage of the Hopi was probably as great as that of their assailants. The fact that the Navaho where mounted, of course placed the Hopi at a disadvantage while they were fighting on even ground, but wherever the Hopi could withdraw behind rocks or into other unapproachable places, the Navaho derived but little benefit from their ponies.
Next: 108. A Hopi Raid On A Navaho Dance