Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fantasies of colonialism: the role of "pahana" in Hopi mythology

In Hopi myth and religion they talk about the white brother from the east coming back to Hopiland in order to initiate the next world phase. White, non-native people, of which I'm one, who are New Agers, have tended to interpret this either to mean one single white person coming from the Eastern United States to Arizona as a savior or to mean the coming of white people to the United States in general. The thing is that if you actually read how the Hopi themselves interpret it you see that "Pahana" isn't a single individual but a people and that those people are an unnamed Native American tribe from the eastern United States, and that the reunion of the Hopi with the long lost brother signifies the reunion of the Hopi with this Native American tribe, not with either a white person or with white people in general. It signifies a kind of unity, which is reinforced by the Hopi story that they aren't a single ethnic group but were formed by a union of ethnic groups that were called to a certain spot to join together, and that migrated to the spot and found each other.

My understanding, based on reading about it, is that periodically white people have shown up on the Hopi reservation claiming to be the Pahana and promising to be a sort of messianic figure, including a lawyer who wanted to advocate for them.

Of course white people have to have been prophesied to have come to the U.S., that makes it legitimate in some way. The same thing with Cortes supposedly showing up on the shores of Mexico on the day that Quetzlacoatl was supposed to return. The book "1491", which is based on archeological reconstructions of pre-contact America as well as critical examinations of the presentation of information about contact both in the present and in the past, traces the Quetzlacoatl contact story to the 19th century as a literary invention.

The Book of Mormon too has the same sort of legitimizing factor. If Native Americans are descended from Lost Tribes of Israel, who are probably among the present Syrians, Jordanians, and Lebanese, as well as Palestinians....and Jesus himself came to America....then Native Americans aren't outside of the American mythos. There aren't issues of what happened when Europeans found America because in a sense Europeans found remnants of Middle Eastern culture, and they brought the Christianity over that the Native Americans already had a half lost version of.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

it is good that your contemplating such things, in the least you will think and act in a sacred manner.

perhaps your feelings/opinion is right

i spent the last 5 years studying about the hopi and my feelings is that there will be one man who will act as a catalyst that will unite people into living in balance and honoring mother earth

peace n many blessings