“Truth of a Hopi”
by Edmund Nequatewa
In 1883, the Bureau of Indian Affairs established a base in Keams Canyon, Arizona near Hopi. Four years later, the Bureau opened a boarding school there and all Hopi children were expected to attend. This is the story of how some Hopis resisted sending their children away to school and the split that resulted among the Hopis.
~ ~ ~ ~ “Hano Pueblo, Hopi, Arizona, ca. 1884,” Ben Wittick (Photographer)
How some Hopis resisted sending their children to school and the trouble that resulted.
About this time  the [Bureau of Indian Affairs] agency was established at Keams Canyon, and of course the Hopis knew that this meant peace. So all the chiefs from every village went there and told the white man that they were his friends and brothers, and they told him that they would like to be protected by him from all their other enemies. For this reason they thought the agent ought to settle all their troubles, which they had been having right along.
Later [in 1887], a school was established there and all the Hopis were willing to send their children to school. Everything was going all right until they had an initiation ceremony (Wuwuchime) at Shungopovi, and the young men at old Shungopovi and Shipaulovi were to be initiated. So they were not sent back to school that year and, of course, at that time, these ceremonies were not very well understood by the white man, so the agent sent out policemen (two First Mesa men and three Navajos) to fetch the young boys. “Hano Pueblo, ca. 1890,” Ben Wittick (Photographer)
When they got to Shipaulovi, they found the young men in the kiva, and they asked the chief to give them up so that they could take them back to school. The chief said he would not let them go until the ceremony was over, and he told them that he would be quite willing to let them go then. But the policemen insisted that they must take them at once because they had orders to bring them in. But the chief just flatly refused.
So the policeman said that they would take the chief instead. He said he would be willing to go with them after he had seen his friend, the missionary. So he went off, and, as he was leaving, he asked the policeman to stay on top of the mesa and wait for him until he came back.
He started off for the Sunlight Mission by way of Mishongnovi. The policemen thought that he was going to fool them, so they followed him and caught up with him as he was going around the village. They took hold of him and dragged him off the mesa, so he did not get to see the chief at Mishongnovi either. He intended that they would both go down to the mission to see what information they could get from the missionary. In both villages there was much excitement, and all the people were on the housetops, as they were very much troubled to see the chief dragged off the mesa by the policemen. “Hopi Children, ca. 1897,” Frederick Maude (Photographer)
The three sons of the chief ran out after them, and they caught up with them just as they were at the bottom of the mesa, and, of course, they could not help but fight these men to defend their father. But finally they all got to the mission. When they got there, the missionary took the side of the chief and told the policeman to let him go. Then he wrote a letter to the agent asking him to let him know what orders he had given these policemen to come out to do. While he was writing this letter, the chief asked him to put in this message to the agent, that he was through with the school and that he would not be his friend any more. And he said that he was a friend of the missionary only and that he would do anything for him. So he said that if the agent were man enough he could come and get his scalp. Then he said, “I am the man, Tawahonganiwa. If you ever want to come out, get no one else but Tawahonganiwa. I am not your friend.”
When this was written, the missionary enclosed the letter in an envelope and gave it to the policeman to take into the agency. This was how the two factions and all the trouble over sending the children to school was started among the Hopi.
From then on, Chief Tawahonganiwa had many followers in both Mishongnovi and Shipaulovi, and every now and then he would hold a council with his fellow men. Then later, many people of the other villages took up his side, excepting First Mesa.
When they split, those that wanted to go to school went right on; but the Chief's relatives had to take his side and held their children back. This was about 1888 or 1889. Every once in a while, the agent would send out the policemen. If they were expecting them, the parents would have to go out early with their children to the hiding places under the cliffs. Not finding any children, the policemen would go back.
Finally the policemen thought of the scheme of coming into the villages at night. In that way they got quite a few children, and they took them off to Keams Canyon to boarding school. Of course, this was very unpleasant for the Hopis, for they never before had parted with any of their children. So the Chief at Mishongnovi thought that it would be best to let their children be sent to school with their own consent.
About this time, the army (a troop of negro soldiers) was sent out to the Hopi villages to see if they could make the old chief at Shipaulovi change his mind about sending his children to school. They did not stop at Shipaulovi very long, but went on to Oraibi, where there were more people. There they were met by the chief, Lololama, and he was very friendly to them and said he was willing to send his children to school. He wanted to take advantage of what the outcome would be of sending the children to school. After he made this agreement, Youkioma jumped on him, and they quarreled. This was the first time that Lololama had found out that Youkioma was the leader of this other faction. But Lololama, being the chief, said that the children who were old enough to go to the Keams Canyon School could be taken.
Now from then on these two men were against each other, and each man wanted to see how many followers he could have. These hostile leaders would have meetings at every other village every so often, and they would lecture to the people, telling them that the ones who were sending their children to school would be in worse trouble because the Bahana [white man] who established the school was not their true brother who had come up from the underworld with them. If he was, he would have shown the Hopis his written tradition to compare with their tradition. So this faction felt that they would rather wait for their Bahana brother to come with this written story of their ancestors.
This sort of trouble got very bad among the people themselves, and the leaders of each faction, of course, were working against one another to see who would have the most followers. On account of many good useful things, like tools, such as axes and hoes, clothing and sugar and coffee, some of the hostile faction people began falling off, thinking that the idea of being a hostile was just the idea of preventing the people from having these things. Finally it got so there were very few hostiles left at Shipaulovi and Mishongnovi, but there were quite a number at Shungopovi, so the ones at Shipaulovi moved over to Shungopovi. This move occurred in 1899.