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Lyle Balenquah, Hopi writer, anthropologist, and outdoor guide, joins us for our October Archaeology Café. This season’s theme is “Connections.”
In the oral histories of the Hopi, there is a centuries-old story about the first river runner in the Southwest. This story depicts the adventures of a curious boy, named Tiyo, who wonders “where does the river go?”
Determined to answer that question, Tiyo sets out with the prayers of his family, in a boat carved from a cottonwood tree, encountering new adventures and people along his river journey. He eventually discovers that the river joins up with the Pacific Ocean far from his homeland, and in doing so, becomes the first to raft what are now known as the San Juan and Colorado Rivers.
In that distant age, the people may not have known exactly where the rivers originated from, or where they ended up. But for sure, they could sense that these waters were bringing great strength and spirituality with them. As the people prayed to the spirits of the rivers and other bodies of water, those prayers were carried to great forces, hopefully to be answered one day.
Even today, Hopi people are taught that when they encounter bodies of water, be it a river, a lake or a spring, they take some handfuls of water and symbolically “throw” that water back to Hopi-land so that the rains and snows will come to the dry landscapes of the Hopi Mesas. In essence, water, in all its forms was a resource to be appreciated, respected and never abused.
In Tiyo’s case, he was at least the first Hopi who braved the power of the river and lived to tell about it, but not without many close calls. In most instances Hopi ancestors were usually found along the river, as opposed toon the river. Numerous ancestral Hopi villages and settlements are located along the great rivers of the Southwest and they continue to be honored in story, song and prayer.
Some of the Hopi names include: Pisis’vayu, an archaic term referring to the Colorado River, Yotse’vayu, “The Ute River” (The San Juan), Hopaq’vayu, “The River of the Northeast” (The Rio Grande), Hotsik’vayu, “The Winding River” (The Verde River) and Palavayu, “The Red River” (The Little Colorado), to name just a few. As attested to by these names and meanings, these rivers and many others continue to remain a viable part of the Hopi Cultural Landscape and serve to connect modern Hopi people to regions located far from the current Hopi Reservation.
Archaeology Café is an informal forum where adults can learn more about the Southwest’s deep history and speak directly to experts. We have based Archaeology Café on the science pub or science cafe model that developed in Europe and quickly spread to major American cities. At Archaeology Café, we break down the static, jargon-laden dynamic of traditional lectures, and have an expert share some ideas with the group in ways that get discussion going. (Food and drink make things a little livelier, too.)
The program is free, but participants are encouraged to order their own refreshments. Although kids may attend with adult supervision, Archaeology Cafés are best for adults and young adults.
If accommodation is needed due to disability, please contact Linda Pierce by email or phone, (520) 882-6946, ext. 23.
Place: We meet in the Aztec Room of Macayo’s Central, 4001 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, near the Indian School light rail stop.
Time: Presentations begin after 6:00 p.m. It is best to arrive at about 5:30 p.m. in order to get settled, as seating is open and unreserved, but limited. Share tables and make new friends!
Cost: Archaeology Café is free, but guests are encouraged to order their own refreshments from the menu. Enjoy happy hour prices!
- Macayo’s Central