“The Split at Oraibi: An Oraibi Account”
by Chuka (Don C. Talayesva), Oraibi, July 1970
The American occupation of the Southwest in 1846 marked the beginning of government intervention in Hopi affairs. Besides land policies that radically decreased the boundaries of Hopi lands, the newly introduced government schools had severe consequences for Hopi society. The US government took Hopi children away from their families, sometimes against their parents' will. The children were sent to boarding schools for long periods of time. This policy was hard on Hopi family life and affected the people's ability to sustain themselves, both physically and culturally. Here, a Hopi elder talks about how factions developed at Oraibi and the final split in 1906.
~ ~ ~ ~ “Terrace Homes of Hopi Indians—Street Scene in Oraibi, Hopi Reservation, Arizona, ca. 1900,” Unidentified (Photographer)You’ll need 3-D glasses to view this Anaglyph image. Don’t have a pair? Request 3-D glasses right away!
I can tell you exactly how it happened because I was involved in that business. I was about sixteen years old then. There was this group in Oraibi that was hostile to the whites. That was the problem. We all used to live peaceably together when I was a young boy, but about the time I was old enough to be in school we began to separate from our old way of life. And this group that was hostile to the government refused to send their children to school. They didn’t want to get help from the government. They wanted to be left alone to go their own way.
It got to be pretty bad in the village. Things got turned upside down. When we friendly people had our ceremonies they [the Hostiles] had theirs by themselves. We were not living peaceably for quite a while, 'til 1906. That was when we decided to do something.
It was on September the 8th, 1906, that it happened. We drove those hostile people from the village, out that way, and kept them gathered there. During the afternoon it was getting pretty bad. Yukioma, who was head of the Hostiles, wanted his people to stay in Oraibi. He wanted us [the Friendlies] to leave the village. So about three o’clock he made four lines on the ground and then he said, “Well, it has to be done this way now that when you pass me over these lines it will be done. We’re going to have a [push]-of-war. If you push us over [the lines] we are the ones to leave.” “View of Sichomovi Pueblo, Hopi, ca. 1875,” William Henry Jackson (Photographer)You’ll need 3-D glasses to view this Anaglyph image. Don’t have a pair? Request 3-D glasses right away!
So our chief called a lot of those strong men to do the work. Said, “Well, we’ll get together and push each other. We’ll push them back that way. If we pass them over the four lines it will be done.”
We had a hard struggle. Both of our chiefs were in the center, and they had a hard time to get their breath. And then we drove them over the four lines. Then it was done; that’s what Yukioma said. Before the setting of the sun, he [and his group] departed.
Our chief said to them, “You people are supposed to go out where you came from, Kawestima, to live.” That’s out toward [Kayenta].
After the Hostiles left, someone carved three or four footprints in the rock showing where they went out toward the west. [Two fellows] named Robert Silena and Charles Addington carved the words that Yukioma had said. When the Hostiles got to the place where they were going to stay, Hotevilla, they cut down some trees and made temporary hogans at first, then afterwards they made their stone houses.
Our chief at that time was Tawakwaptewa, and his second lieutenant from Moencopi was Frank Shiamptiwa.