More than any other tribe in North America, the Hopi Indians have developed according to the dictates and demands of what may be called a legacy of prophecy. The predictions of the life to come do not merely pertain to the Hopi themselves but deal with impending events on a global scale. These prophecies began to be made public shortly before the mid-20 th century. The Hopi are an aggregation of clans that came together at the “center-point” ( Tuuwanasavi) in northern Arizona during the course of their migrations. Because they are not a monolithic tribe, the sources of their prophecies are fragmentary and multifarious. Part of the lack of narrative clarity also has to do with the secretive nature of the Hopi. These isolated, sedentary farmers living in unpretentious pueblos (basically stone apartment buildings) on the high desert of the American Southwest have looked into the future from their kivas (subterranean, communal prayer-chambers) and have seen some rather disturbing scenarios. Many times they simply do not wish to share these visions with the outside world. Considering the history of exploitation and genocide of Native Americans in general, this is understandable.
Snake Kiva in the village of Oraibi, the oldest continuously inhabited community on the North American continent, established about 1100 AD.
Like the Maya, among whom the Hopi once lived and with whom they later traded, the Hopi conceptualize the cycles of time as world-ages. The Hopi believe that we have suffered three previous world cataclysms. The First World was destroyed by fire—a comet, asteroid strike, or a number of volcanic eruptions. The Second World was destroyed by ice—a great Ice Age. As recorded by many cultures around the globe, a tremendous deluge destroyed the Third World. These three global destructions were not the result of merely random earth changes or astrophysical phenomena but of humankind’s disregard both for Mother Earth and for the spiritual dictates of the Creator. In other words, cataclysmic events in the natural world are causally connected to collective transgressions, or negatives human actions.
Unlike the Maya, the Hopi are rarely specific about the dates for the shifting of these ages. It has been said that the Maya were masters of time, whereas the Hopi are masters of space. The verb tenses here are deliberate, given that the Maya no longer follow the Long Count calendar of 394-year cycles. Instead they now use the Tzolk’in calender of 260 days—an amazingly complex system nonetheless. Living on their three primary mesas, the Hopi continue to perform a series of annual sacred rituals within their ceremonial cycle in order to keep not just themselves but rather the whole world in balance.
As time goes by, this task is increasingly difficult because our contemporary lifestyle, with its technological gadgetry and unseemly allurements, continues to erode traditional ways of life and ancestral Hopi values. Fewer and fewer young Hopis are learning their indigenous language, customs, and ceremonies. More youth are leaving Hopi-land to seek employment in urban areas. Those that do stay on the reservation are confronted with intra-tribal squabbles and, much worse, with high rates of alcoholism and increasingly available lethal street drugs. The dire signs of a Native American version of the “End Times” are everywhere.
Many Hopi spiritual elders (singular, kikmongwi) claim that we are living in the final days of the Fourth World. For more than 60 years, different Hopis have predicted various Earth changes that signal the conclusion of the current age and the onset of the Fifth World. In 1970, Dan Katchongva, Sun Clan leader from the village of Hotevilla, who died at age 112, spoke about deteriorating conditions of our time:
We have teachings and prophecies informing us that we must be alert for the signs and omens which will come about to give us courage and strength to stand on our beliefs. Blood will flow. Our hair and our clothing will be scattered upon the earth. Nature will speak to us with its mighty breath of wind. There will be earthquakes and floods causing great disasters, changes in the seasons and in the weather, disappearance of wildlife, and famine in different forms. There will be gradual corruption and confusion among the leaders and the people all over the world, and wars will come about like powerful winds. All of this has been planned from the beginning of creation.
The Two Life-Paths On Prophecy Rock
Another spiritual elder from the same Third Mesa village, David Monongye, who may have lived even longer than Grandfather Dan, had warned: “When earthquakes, floods, hailstorms, drought, and famine will be the life of every day, the time will have then come for [either] the return to the true path, or going the zig-zag way.”