Edited by Léo-Paul Dana and Robert B. Anderson
Chapter 31: People of the Corn: Traditional Hopi Agriculture and Sustainability
Dennis Wall and Virgil Masayesva This chapter describes aspects of a unique relationship between an ancient agricultural practice and the culture that it sustains. Hopi agriculture, known as ‘dry farming’ because it relies strictly on precipitation and runoﬀ water (along with hard work and prayer), has kept the Hopi culture intact for nearly a thousand years. But aside from the sustenance it provides the people of the high desert of Northern Arizona, corn enters into nearly every aspect of traditional Hopi life, contributing to development of values, the sharing and passing-on of tradition, celebration and connection with the Great Mystery. After their Emergence into the Fourth World, the clans that would one day comprise the Hopi people approached the Guardian Spirit, Masaw, in the region that is now northwest Arizona, and asked his permission to settle there. Masaw recognized that the clan people’s former life, which they knew was not bringing them happiness, had been given over to ambition, greed and social competition. He looked into their hearts and saw that these qualities remained, and so he had his doubts that the people could follow his way. ‘Whether you can stay here is up to you,’ he told them. Masaw warned the clan people that the life he had to oﬀer them was very diﬀerent from what they had before. To show them that life, Masaw gave the people a planting stick, a bag of seeds and a gourd of water. He handed them a small ear...
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