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Indigenous Stories

Little Hawk Month

Categories : Hopi , Hopi Stories

November is a very special time in the life cycle of the year. It is the month we call Kelmuya. It means the month of the baby hawks. The symbol is two fold. First the hawks grow during the month to bring in the new year. And second, the tribal members who have grown enough in age and wisdom are initiated into the tribe as adults. The baby hawks become men.

It is a time when the Kachina come out of the world of the ant people, the Shipap, and visit the living on Earth. The Ant people used to take care of our people before we came to live on the surface so long ago man cannot remember.

This is a sacred time for our people. There are ceremonies that take place underground where the tourists cannot come. There are other ceremonies that are held in clear view to share our joy with all, including those who visit us.

We celebrate in dance, song and prayer our hopes for a prosperous new year. We refresh our souls and wash our spiritual hands so we can be worthy for the new year.

Everything goes for 8 days until the full moon, but the preparation takes longer and fills our hearts with joy and love as we devote our time to preparing for this time for 8 days before. It is the most important preparation time because it is the first of three winter ceremonies we celebrate. And if this first one is good, they will all be good. Wuwuchim is like a sample of the year. If it is good, the year will be too.

The root of the ceremony that takes place in our underground sanctified places is just for Hopi because it brings the new baby hawks into manhood. Yet, there is much we can share with all. There are many things that everyone can do to share with those around them to bring the ways of peace into their new years.

I know that many of you will not read this in time to do these things in the little hawk month. It is better to do it late than not to do it at all.

The first thing is to remember to pray. You have to pray for your clan, your people, yourself. You must also pray for all people and for prosperity and peace in the new year. Before you start your own ceremony, clean your soul.

The Corn is the life of the Hopi. Many of us still do the corn ceremony to clean ourselves. This is how you do this:

First you must make a corn doll for each member who is going to do the ceremony. You do this by taking a dry ear of corn, pulling the husk back and removing it. You tie the husk near the top as if you are making a neck in the husk. Then you tie it again where the waste should be. You split the husk to make arms and legs. Then you can even dress your doll with bits of cloth and paint to make it more like you wish. As you build your dolls you think that corn is life and that this husk was a cover for the corn, so it was like a cover to help life.

When you are done, you wait until the full moon. Then you build a fire. Bless the fire and make it a holy place in your world. We do this underground in Kava, away from the eyes of the tourists. Then you pray to the Great Spirit that all your bad thoughts, anger, hate, jealousy and other things you do not want to bring into the new year are placed in the doll. Help the Great Spirit by putting your energy into making these things go from you to the doll.

You pray to the Great Spirit that you will be strong to face your greatest adversary, yourself. That you will always be kind, and fair and seek to bring peace, not strife to those around you. Thank the Great Spirit for showing you the life in all things and giving you the ability to know that the Great Spirit is everywhere. Realize that this is something not everyone understands. It is a gift that you may take for granted.

When your heart feels clean, put your dolls into the fire to burn. Allow the fire to purify your soul by burning away the husk of the corn doll that is filled with your pain. Like the husk protected the corn, the husk now protects you.

This time is also a time for family and friends to get together and greet the new year together. We eat ceremonial food like flat corn bread.

Corn is the root of all our lives. We, the Hopi, are the people of the blue corn. We know that corn is the reason our people are different.

When we first came to the surface, the Great Spirit gave all Native peoples corn. They rushed forward and grabbed the biggest. We stood back and waited. After all others were satisfied, we were left with a small ear of blue corn. It barely was enough to feed our people. But the Great Spirit could see our good nature and that we were not greedy people, so the Great Spirit gave us a special relationship to the corn. That is why corn flat bread is an important part of ceremonies.

To make it, you take corn meal (*Editor's Note: some stores call it corn flour). Mix it with enough water to make it sticky, then fry it. It is simple, like the people who eat it. Share flat bread with your family and friends. Know that when you eat it together you are sharing more than just food, you are sharing life.

It is important to reflect, as a new year starts, what you have learned from the year passing and what you want from the year ahead. May your coming year be filled with joys that only putting your eyes on the Great Spirit can bring. Together, each of you, my people, and I will join together in the Great Spirit and pray for peace.

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