How The World Moves: The Odyssey Of An American Indian Family

Paperback | November 1, 2016

byPeter Nabokov

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A compelling portrait of cultural transition and assimilation via the saga of one Acoma Pueblo Indian family

Born in 1861 in New Mexico’s Acoma Pueblo, Edward Proctor Hunt lived a tribal life almost unchanged for centuries. But after attending government schools he broke with his people’s ancient codes to become a shopkeeper and controversial broker between Indian and white worlds. As a Wild West Show Indian he travelled in Europe with his family, and saw his sons become silversmiths, painters, and consultants on Indian Lore. In 1928, in a life-culminating experience, he recited his version of the origin myth of Acoma Pueblo to Smithsonian Institution scholars.

Nabokov narrates the fascinating story of Hunt’s life within a multicultural and historical context. Chronicling Pueblo Indian life and Anglo/Indian relations over the last century and a half, he explores how this entrepreneurial family capitalized on the nation’s passion for Indian culture. In this rich book, Nabokov dramatizes how the Hunts, like immigrants throughout history, faced anguishing decisions over staying put or striking out for economic independence, and experienced the pivotal passage from tradition to modernity.

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A compelling portrait of cultural transition and assimilation via the saga of one Acoma Pueblo Indian familyBorn in 1861 in New Mexico’s Acoma Pueblo, Edward Proctor Hunt lived a tribal life almost unchanged for centuries. But after attending government schools he broke with his people’s ancient codes to become a shopkeeper and controv...

Peter Nabokov is a professor of world arts and cultures and American Indian studies at UCLA. His previous books include Where the Lightning Strikes and Indian Running, and he edited the volume Native American Testimony. He lives in Los Angeles.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:560 pages, 8.4 × 5.5 × 1.2 inPublished:November 1, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

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ISBN - 10:0143109685

ISBN - 13:9780143109686

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IntroductionTHIS IS THE STORY of a man who told a story. It was nothing less than his version of his people’s account of the creation of the world and the beginning of their history, their equivalent of the Old Testament, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Upanishads, or the Koran. Commonly told orally and in separate episodes depending on the traditional occasion, here for the first time it was on paper and of a piece. Although his version proved one of the most complete examples from Native America of the most important narrative that any society can tell itself about itself, it was published anonymously. Until recently no one knew the narrator’s name. How it took a lifetime for this man to experience and string together this epic, its fate as a publication out in the world, the banishment that he and his family endured for being themselves and sharing such information, and their subsequent adventures and struggles for survival throughout the twentieth century are this book’s story.Edward Proctor Hunt was born in 1861 in the mesa-top village of Acoma Pueblo in western New Mexico—said to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America. But that was his Anglo-American name, which he discovered in a donated Bible that he received in an Albuquerque boarding school. Back at home he was known as Day Break, the identity he received when he was presented to the rising sun at the age of four days. Later he would acquire a third name, Chief Big Snake, when he performed with his family in the guise of Plains Indians on stages, in school auditoriums, and in circus arenas around the country and across Europe. Shortly after returning from Europe in 1928, he and his family stayed in Washington, D.C., where he put together the Acoma creation story for scholars at the Smithsonian Institution.That story told of the emergence of two sisters out of the earth—one becoming the “Mother of all Indians.” Hunt described the arrival of the first human beings, the incremental creation of their ecology, and established them in their high desert landscape. He related the making of their first, archetypal village, with its traditional spaces for human life, work, and ceremony. All the while he introduced their lessons for the proper conduct of social, political, and religious life. He narrated their promising and tragic experiences thereafter, as they worked through their conflicts with their guiding supernatural spirits. Finally he set his people on a migratory journey through mishaps and dramas that ultimately brought them to their present homeland.After this telling, in estrangement from his tribe, Edward and his family learned to become self-sufficient citizens as they wove and dodged their way throughout the upheavals of a modernizing America. This book also traces the growth of Acoma as one of the world’s distinct cultures and New Mexico’s evolution as a multicultural state within which Edward was first a hunter, farmer, trainee as medicine man and sacred clown, and then a controversial storekeeper, culture broker, ardent Protestant, government translator, brother-in-law to a “Jewish Indian Chief,” and convert to the American dream. Finally it lays his family’s multigenerational story within the changing contexts of Indian-white relations from the time of Anglo arrival in the Southwest to the beginning of the twenty-first century.Edward’s life span also covered the period of the greatest displacement of indigenous peoples in world history. During this time many millions of tribespeople and peasant villagers were thrown on the road, uprooted by war, famine, greed, genocide, or extreme prejudice. The story behind the Hunt family’s hegira is akin to that of refugees in general who must face anguishing decisions about staying put or reaching out for more survivable and successful futures. Many strike hard bargains between tradition and progress and wind up fending for themselves through all manner of diasporas, both external and internal. Their stories are a defining aspect of our human experience, as thousands of premodern communities produced postmodern families like the Hunts. • • • Although Edward Hunt never lived in his birthplace again, through thenarratives he shared on the third floor of the Smithsonian’s red-stonecastlehe returned to it in memory and spirit and paid it a high honor. Amongthe seventy or so songs that he regarded as integral accompaniments to hisstory, and that were recorded for the Smithsonian’s sound archives, weresome whose function was to rekindle, in words and incantations, same magical forces that brought to life each element in the world’s creation before the dawn of time.One of them, Edward explained, was chanted by the “Mother of all Indians” herself. She sang it to instruct her Acoma Pueblo children about “the world and how it works” and their place in it. Edward called the song “How the World Moves.” His son Wilbert offered this translation:Some time ago, some time ago,The earth, to be respected, was born.Some time ago, the sky, to be respected, was born.Some time ago, to be healthy, this earth was born with corn pollen.Some time ago, to be healthy, this sky was born with turquoise color.The earth’s motion, the sky’s motion,Goes from north to west.Look. The earth’s motion, the sky’s motion,Goes from south to east.Look around at the earth’s motion, the sky’s motion.This all happened some time ago.In the story that Edward told, the song’s counterclockwise circuit reflected the centripetal movement of the early Acoma migrants as they spiraled ever inward in search of their predestined homeland. But the life Edward and his family led took a clockwise, centrifugal turn and hurled them outward into the unknown—from their home mesa at Acoma to its satellite hamlet of Acomita to the pueblo of Santa Ana to the city of Albuquerque to the nations of Europe and back to New York and then the nation’s capital and Albuquerque again and finally, for at least one of them, back to the bosom of Acoma.This book opens with the first movements of Edward Hunt’s life, in the middle of winter on the large rock that his people still consider the pivot of the universe.PART ONEDay Break(1846–80)A young man of Acoma, Day Break and sister.1The Sun’s Latest (1861)It was my Tewa name, a thing of power. Usually such a name evokes either nature—the mountains or the hills or the season—or a ceremony under way at the time of the birth. By custom such a name is shared only within the community, and with those we know well. Thus, in the eyes of my Tewa people, I was “brought in out of the darkness,” where I had no identity. Thus I became a child of the Tewa. My world is the Tewa world. It is different from your world.—Alfonso Ortiz, 1991ON THE FOURTH MORNING after he was born, the child received his name. With this identification he crossed his first threshold in a step-by-step progression toward full membership in his community. After this the village crier could refer to him personally as he strode up and down the dusty lanes of Acoma Pueblo proclaiming daily announcements, work assignments, and upcoming rabbit hunts or pilgrimages. His parents could get his attention from their rooftops. The village’s spiritual leader and ultimate authority, the cacique, could add a pebble to his tally of those under his wing. Before long the boy would be summoned for further initiations and recruited for communal responsibilities. With this name everyone would know that he was someone and who that someone was.The ritual began when he left his seclusion in a darkened room and was handed over to a fellow medicine man and his wife, his ceremonial godparents. They would introduce him to the world and the world to him. About an hour before sunrise that morning, this man and his wife carried the blanket-wrapped infant to the mesa rim. Nearby lay one of the rock’s natural freshwater cisterns, whose overshadowing walls kept the pool of rainfall and snowmelt cool and free from algae even in midsummer.Every tribal member was consecrated through this life-passage ritual. The tribe’s creation myth provided its model. That was the distant time when the surface of the world was still unmade, damp and spongy. Crawling out from three underworlds, two sisters, Iatiku and Nautsiti, the world’s first inhabitants, emerged on this earthly plain and waited for the dawn. They breathed in and prayed as the new light burnt their untried eyes. Then they sang the first Acoma creation song.I am going to pray, am I not?I am going to pray to the sunrise lake in the east for life.I am going to pray, am I not?I am going to pray to the sunrise lake in the east for life.I am going to pray to the sunrise lake in the eastThat I will grow old.Later in the myth, Iatiku, the tribe’s female progenitor, would do likewise for her twin boys. Four days after their birth, she presented them to the sun, with pollen and sacred cornmeal clenched in their tiny fists. When the myth mentioned the ritual this second time, it established an institution for humans to follow.To officiate at these sun-presenting and name-giving functions Iatiku anointed a shaman from the Fire Society—one of the tribe’s five groups of official curers. In the myth she spelled out the proper procedure: the parents’ invitation to this shaman, his use of differently colored minerals to make a turtle-shaped sand painting on which to bless the child, holding the infant aloft to the cresting sun so that “his” rays could infuse its body, the intakes of breath from the new day, the uttered prayers for long life and formal announcement of its clan, the return to home, family, food, and final blessing.Since parents were not supposed to present their own children to the sun, shortly after the birth the baby’s father made low coughing noises outside a fellow medicine man’s residence—the polite way to signal one’s presence. Would this colleague do the honors? In the predawn hours, the man responded by making his presence known outside the parents’ house in similar fashion.By the light of a small fire, on a cleared floor space, he drizzled sands made from colored minerals to create the ground painting and array his ceremonial objects around it. He sang to the shaking of his gourd rattle while his wife ritually bathed the mother and child. The baby in her lap, the mother was seated on sheepskins with her husband alongside this depiction of the earth. The medicine man dipped eagle-wing feathers into a step-rimmed (symbolizing rainclouds) pottery medicine bowl and sprinkled the newborn.Even in this rudimentary ceremony, key symbols of Acoma religion came to life and did their duty. Foremost among the medicine man’s objects was the cloth-wrapped fetish of a completely kerneled ear of dried corn festooned with turquoise beads and known as a honani. With it was a bowl of cleansing water, feathers for dipping and blessing, pieces of chipped flint, and appropriate prayer sticks, or hatcamun, the Pueblo Indian medium for conveying human messages to the spirits.These sacramental items served to draw in and focus unseen powers. For this occasion they helped introduce this child to the world. Did the father have prayer-stick offerings of his own? More good wishes for the child’s health and long life were invested into these six-inch fetishes and added to the basket. Had a name been chosen, or did the parents want him to come up with one? No one remembers who proposed it, but one was ready.Acoma mesa, “the place of preparedness.”The cold night was over; a glow spread in the east. Having turned over their newborn, the parents began their vigil back home. The name-giver and wife carried the swaddled child and basket to the rim of the mesa. Now he sang in memory of the world that was given to the first humans on earth.When I came out, when I came out.Who was it that was born this morning?It was that earth, that sky,They were first born.When I came out, when I came out,Who was it this morning that was first born?It was that rainbow, the stars,They were first born.The medicine man directed his words toward the sun. The first rays shot past the mesa called Katzimo and into their eyes. The medicine man’s wife straightened her arms and extended the infant toward the dawn. Again her husband sang.Out from the darknessInto the glare of lifeI now present you.What greets your newly opened eyes?The sun, the moon, the stars, the rainbowAre now your companions,Your heritage of beauty,Which is life.The medicine man upended the basket and the prayer sticks spilled over the cliffside. He inhaled, drawing breath from the north, the west, the south, and the east. Leaning toward the baby, he blew life from the four quarters upon him. Out loud he spoke his name.Gaire.In short English that meant “Day Break.” More specifically, it described “the first illumination in the east before the sun actually breaks over the horizon.” It was a strong name in a community that relied on a delegated watcher who kept track of the sun’s movements back and forth across the grooves and notches of a special boulder just east of the mesa so as to provide advance word on upcoming ceremonies that were linked to solstices, equinoxes, and the agricultural year.Facing sunrise, eastern rim of Acoma village.Walking back to the infant’s home, the medicine man arrived at the door. Now he referred to the baby in the third person. “Day Break, this is his home,” he announced. “Here he comes. He is going to live here. May he have long life and all kinds of crops, fruits, beads. He is coming in.”“Let him enter,” answered his parents from inside.All of them drank from the brew of mixed medicines. They blessed the food and ate together. The medicine man swept up the colored sands, gathered his materials, and left the family to themselves.Recognized as a human being, Day Break was now on his way toward becoming a social person. He was bundled and wrapped with buckskin ties onto an old cradleboard, a family heirloom made from slats split off a lightning-struck ponderosa pine that had fallen on the slopes of Mount Taylor, the tribe’s sacred mountain of the north. A packet of corn from the cob fetish was tied to its left side; the rest of its kernels were kept for planting in his father’s field.Other indoctrinations lay in store as Day Break would be drawn more deeply into his people’s religious practices. But of all the rituals in which he would partake, and in large measure recant, this ceremony was the one he cherished most. He would replicate it for his children and theirs in the future. • • • Up on Acoma mesa in western New Mexico these rhythms of life may have felt timeless and reliable. But down below, the country that surrounded it was in turmoil and its future far from certain. Only two months into Day Break’s life the nation erupted against itself. One impact of the Civil War on the Southwest was the withdrawal of many Union troops from frontier outposts like Forts Defiance and Wingate. This left their old enemies, the Navajo peoples who lived to the north and west, bolder than ever.Since the eighteenth century, the warriors of their spread-out bands and extended-family camps had been attracted to the relatively easy spoils of Acoma Pueblo and her nearest native neighbor, Laguna Pueblo, about thirty-five miles to the northeast. Wearing their skull caps of mountain lion or wolf pelts, carrying spears, bows and arrows, and heavy rawhide shields, the Navajos sneaked into their territories via the north. After rustling animals from around Laguna they often continued southwest to steal sheep, burros, and horses from corrals just below Acoma mesa, and kill or abduct any youngsters tending them.As they hastened back around Ambrosio Lake, the raiders snatched all the extra livestock they could handle from other Laguna Pueblo pastures just west of Mount Taylor before they broke for home. At Waters Spring and Agua Blanca they watered their herds before pushing them into the rougher, wooded high country known to locals as “the Enemy Trail.” Up to this point any Acoma or Laguna warriors on their tail might try to retrieve their stock, and even cut some enemy scalps. But here they pulled back, aware that by now the stolen animals were too well hidden in brush, and that they would be exposing themselves to retaliatory attack.By the early 1860s predation by Navajos upon white ranchers and Hispano and Pueblo villages had gotten out of hand. As if sensing that his people’s marauding lifestyle was ending, a well-known Navajo headman named Red Shirt led nearly three hundred warriors south from the Blue Mountains for one last strike. Around Thoreau his horsemen split up, one bunch going after any Acoma herds they found in the river basin between Mount Taylor and McCartys, the others heading by way of Ice Cave to empty any corrals they found south of Acoma mesa. Joining forces at Quemado Canyon, they headed northwest. But at Mancos the pursuing warriors from at least five pueblos caught up with them, and Red Shirt was killed.It was the Navajos’ last hurrah. Except for holdouts in a few hideaways, over the winter of 1864 the entire tribe was rounded up and removed to an internment center at Bosque Redondo, in New Mexico’s deep southeast, where the prisoners were forced to construct their own prison, which was named Fort Sumner. By the time they were released in 1868 and commenced their trek back home to a new reservation in the Four Corners region, the tribe had lost about a fourth of their number. Their survivors gradually dispersed into local enclaves and a new life of staying put, sheepherding, and regenerative peace.One of Acoma’s worries was starting to lift, but new ones were soon to come.2Born of the Rock (1861)All Indian history is family history.—Robert K. Thomas, 1970sTHIS CHILD WAS BORN with a secret. Not a social secret, like those that people keep to themselves after breaking some behavioral taboo, a violation of the sort that Day Break would one day commit and suffer his first ostracism as a result. Nor an institutional or religious secret, like those with which Pueblo Indians were entrusted during their various initiations, and whose disclosures as an older man would contribute to Day Break’s further estrangement from his people. Not an historical or political secret, of the kind that researchers uncover when doing oral history or ferreting in archives and that can shed revealing light on past events.This was a personal secret, and it remains unclear when Day Break learned of it. For the handsome Acoma Indian farmer and sometime war chief named Juan Faustino Rey (usually just identified as Faustino), who wore a headband when he was photographed by Charles Lummis in 1888 and whom Day Break’s family always identified as his father, was probably a stepfather. Nor was the Zuni man with whom his mother (whose name has been variously listed on genealogical documents as Juana or Lolita) lived for a few years in the 1860s at Zuni Pueblo, forty miles west of Acoma, his biological parent either.In fact, the child’s genetic father was probably not Indian at all, which might have explained his heavier-looking European-like features as he matured, his eventual plus-Pueblo height and girth, and who knows what other inclinations, gifts, or liabilities.The Padre’s Trail up Acoma mesa.Nor was it regarded as a particularly dark secret. Day Break’s braided genes linked him to the generations of bicultural offspring that emerged from the tidal wave we call colonialism. As the probable child of an Hispano father and Pueblo mother, this newborn joined a mixed-race or Genizaro world that, over three centuries, had grown into a social and demographic force up and down the Americas. Furthermore, in Pueblo society it was the mother’s brothers who oversaw much of the guidance customarily provided in Anglo-American society by a birth father. And since Faustino became the boy’s functional parent for the rest of their lives, he is referred to in this narrative as his father.We have no word about the liaison that produced him, how far the secret got out, or whether it affected his standing in the tribe or offered him greater or lesser opportunities. But apparently being part Hispano was a secret with which his life began. When people recall him as an adult they often mention his uncommon height, booming voice, and light eyes, disagreeing whether they were blue-green or brown-hazel.Even though he went nameless for the first four days of his life, other pieces of his identity were already in place.He was the offspring of a sandstone mesa that rose nearly four hundred feet like a gigantic pedestal in the midst of a valley bottom in what is today Cibola County in western New Mexico. From what whites call the Deadman’s Rock overlook on the crest of Woods Mesa, the view of this eroding tabletop and its low-lying buildings on the summit rivals that of Machu Picchu in Peru or the fortress of Masada in Judea.At a distance the dun-colored village looks organic to its foundation. Sliced by deep ravines and boulder-choked clefts, some sections of the mesa rim seem ready to detach and crash downhill. Surrounding the mesa is a gigantic sculpture garden of rain-eroded, wind-cut pinnacles and natural bridges. Capped by slabs of tougher Dakota sandstone, the ring of ocher-and-cream-colored Zuni sandstone crags and monoliths seem to be guarding the mesa against all comers.Below spreads the floor of Acoma Valley. In springtime it is carpeted with grama grass and tufted with juniper and rabbit brush. In the old days it was also checkerboarded with scattered fields of native-grown corn, melons, beans, and tobacco. Among them, if you gazed a few miles to the northwest and knew what to look for, lay the ten-acre plot belonging to the tribe’s “mother,” the old cacique. Every tribal member was expected to help clear, plow, plant, water, and harvest those fields so as to replenish his community storage up on the mesa. That way the cacique could ration supplies to his neediest in the dead of winter or times of scarcity.The rimrocks of Woods Mesa run northeast, bleeding into Seama Mesa. On the valley’s southern boundary they merge into the cliffs of Southwest Plaza and East and Blue mesas. As the plain extends past the uplift of Katzimo, or Enchanted Mesa, these barricades narrow toward Acoma Creek. Clouds of great size and definition roll across a dome of blue sky. By turning in place an Acoma farmer hoeing his patch could check on the progress of three or more weather systems. On occasion, when blizzards or dust storms stream across the plain, only the crest of Acoma mesa is visible. That is when one can imagine the rain gods of Acoma mythology hunkering down on those cliffs, entertained by the human dramas unfolding on this rocky proscenium.The prospect of rock, village, and craggy backdrop seem to exemplify Frank Lloyd Wright’s prescription for optimal design—buildings as “companions to the horizon.” Except for two bell towers that jut into the skyline, these stacks of mud boxes practically fuse into the rock. For nearly five hundred years, writers have competed for descriptions that could measure up to one of the most dramatic architectural settings on the continent. • • • This newborn belonged to a village composed of three parallel alleylike streets that ran in an east-west direction. Fronting them were eight stone-and-adobe houseblocks that rose to three stories and faced south. At each level they were stepped back, for full exposure to the winter sun, while offering maximum terrace space for outdoor activities in summertime. “Up and down the ladder” was a Pueblo Indian term for entering their houses. Pole ladders carried you up to each terrace, while other ladders, angling down through centrally placed smoke holes in the roof, dropped you into the sleeping and storage rooms.Demarcating the individual house units within the blocks were vertical walls that were stepped and paved so as to serve as additional stairways. On the rooftops, from which rose chimneys of mortared-together old pots and spreads of drying fruits and hanging flakes of thin-cut meat, the people spent much of their time—working and socializing and scanning the mesas, ravines, and valley floors from five to fifteen miles in every direction. • • • As a child in a matrilineal society Day Break was tied to his community through membership in his mother’s clan. Like her, that made him a “big” child of the Sun Clan, one of the tribe’s nineteen or so clans. But he simultaneously became a “little” member of the clan of his mother’s current husband, Faustino. This connected him to a preeminent social group at Acoma, with whom he enjoyed another set of rights and was obligated through another set of behaviors.Foot trail up Acoma mesa.As a child in a village where men customarily moved into their wife’s family’s household, he took his first breath on the sheepskin-softened second-tier floor of his mother’s family home. In this warren of rooms lived his mother and father, eventually his two younger sisters (shortly to die of smallpox), his mother’s mother and father, his mother’s three brothers and two sisters, his mother’s eldest sister’s husband, one of that man’s sisters, and his great-grandmother. Around him were the soft, throaty sounds of the language that was also part of his inheritance—a western dialect of Keresan.Of greater import than the fact that his genetic father was probably of Hispano descent was that he was born poor. Although the ideal of face-to-face Pueblo Indian communities was share and share alike, at Acoma as at other Keresan villages, subtle class divisions did exist. As a medicine man, his father devoted long hours and often all-nighters to chanting and crafting prayer sticks and making altars in the chambers known as kivas where their societies met in secret. These obligations cut into the time he could spend hoeing his fields and feeding his family. Hence the baby’s parents were partly dependent upon donations from families they assisted through their healing, naming, and other rituals. • • • The infant’s birthing room had been remudded over many years until it had acquired the softened feel of a cocoon. It was walled with shaped sandstone and adobe mortar and roofed with a low ceiling of whitened cottonwood rafters, or vigas. They supported a mat of yucca stalks or layering of smaller sticks, then a padding of brush topped by spread adobe mud that soon hardened. After plastering with adobe the interior was washed with a gypsum slip that left a chalky surface marked by a swooping pattern from the palms of the women who had applied it.That winter of 1861 was especially cold. But the earthen walls preserved the combined heat from warm bodies, little lamps with wicks burning sheep fat, and a small fire crackling in the corner fireplace known in Spanish as a fogón. Together with the solar heat that the walls had absorbed and then radiated inward after dark, the room kept its sleepers, wrapped in their sheepskins on the floor, sufficiently warm. In those years the condominium-like units still lacked milled doorframes and glass windows. During the day illumination beamed down the ladder well or glowed from porthole-like openings that were glazed with chunks of mica (crystallized gypsum), which had been quarried twenty miles to the north.Plan of Acoma village.Every day the women left and returned by means of their ladders, often while balancing one three-quart clay water jug, or olla, on their heads, another angled on their hips, and maybe a baby in a cradleboard on their backs. Each year, in the weeks anticipating the pueblo’s annual St. Stephen’s Day fiesta on September 2, when the mesa’s three cisterns were brimming with water from late-summer monsoons, they replastered their house exteriors, leaving more imprints where their hands repaired fallen patches, and freshened the whitewash.That year the village of Acoma was occupied by fewer than six hundred souls. This baby added one more. But no matter how modest its population or constrained its seventeen-acre footprint, his mesa-top village was home to one of the most unusual small-scale, preindustrial, subsistence-based, deeply historical, and fiercely independent oral cultures on the planet.Even before Day Break received his name, the little universe of Acoma was part of him and he of it. The mesa held a foundational role in Acoma’s culture, cosmology, and collective consciousness. For a thousand years or more it was the setting for ceremonies that renewed its cultural energies. But as this child would one day describe for scholars at the Smithsonian Institution, the place predated history. To this “center of the world” the female deity Iatiku had led their ancestors in an ancient journey. Here she had positioned them within the protection of four sacred mountains, initiated their social and religious institutions, and launched them into historical time.Day Break would pay dearly for sharing such information with outsiders, and for daring to be from it but no longer in it. For now, however, as an innocent newborn, he lay in this second-floor room of a three-story house on the southeasternmost of the mesa’s three streets. As soon as possible his mother buried his afterbirth down below, as if further anchoring him to this location. No matter how far his life spiraled outward from this place, or how estranged he grew from its fusion of natural and built forms, this mesa-top village remained central to his identity. • • • Many years later, that baby, by then known as Edward Hunt, was on the mesa with José Concho, his maternal uncle, replacing crumbled walls and restoring wooden frames at his ancestral house. Some lumps on an exposed doorjamb jogged the older man’s memory. On the day of his nephew’s birth, Concho recalled, he’d been chewing juniper sap, a natural gum that turns pinkish with saliva. Fashioning the puttylike mixture into letters and numbers, his uncle stuck them onto this wood frame to mark the arrival—“fev 61.”Following his bent for figures, Edward chose midmonth for the exact day. On the many documents he filled out over his lifetime he always wrote his birthday as the fifteenth of February, the moon his people knew as the Daughter of Spring.3Atop a World Apart (1861)Surrounded by air, we live wherea step ends the world. Nothingbegins where we look down. We nevertake that other step. A blue wallHolds home together.You in your home: birds weavearound you too something younever dare touch. At night youcome in and are near: the world falls,a long silent plunge through the sky.—“Acoma Mesa” by William Stafford, 1977IN EARLY COLONIAL TIMES, an Indian infant like this would have been regarded by the Spanish as little more than a nondescript heathen, hopefully the child of a native guide to sources of gold, silver, or precious jewels, potentially a domestic servant to ship off to Santa Fe or even old Mexico, but definitely an inferior being, a colonized subject and one more number on their baptismal rolls. With few exceptions the early Spaniards did not possess much ethnographic curiosity. The only native traditions regarding places, clans, social relations, languages, or cosmologies that interested their soldiers and missionaries (and most nineteenth-century American educators and reformers as well) were those that led them to treasure or pinpointed the pagan customs that they wanted to wipe out.Yet this child, soon to be known as Day Break, then Edward Proctor Hunt, later Big Snake, and finally Dad Hunt, did fall under one Spanish cover term that reflected his people’s lifestyle. At first glance their villages struck these Iberians as reminiscent of their rural towns, or “pueblos,” back home. Hence he became a Pueblo Indian.The word conferred a certain dignity, invoking an agricultural folk who built permanent homes in settled communities that were organized around central plazas where everyone got together for festivals and ceremonies. They also set aside special spaces that the Spanish called estufas that functioned as their own “churches”—the sacred chambers commonly known as kivas. Generally circular in form in the Rio Grande pueblos, at Zuni, Hopi, and Acoma the kivas were rectangular. Moreover, the seven Acoma kivas were embedded into the houseblocks, perhaps, some maintain, to disguise them from Catholic zealots who wanted to eradicate native rituals. Clearly these people were unlike those predatory “wild” Indians, the bravos like the Utes, Comanches, Apaches, and Navajos, who were always sniffing around Pueblo lands to steal their crops, livestock, and women and children.Being labeled Pueblo Indians suggested that they were a cut above. They stayed put and cultivated their fields and fought mostly to defend themselves. Within a few generations of Spanish contact, they were breeding their own Churro sheep and short-statured mustangs. Being a Pueblo Indian credited them with loyalty to their “home village,” a degree of social respectability as “a people,” and a rung up the ladder toward European notions of evolved humanity. • • • Hence the inhabitants of the ninety or so stone-and-adobe villages the early Spanish encountered in present-day Arizona and New Mexico were lumped together as Pueblo Indians. Each of their autonomous, self-governing villages became a separate pueblo. Anyone hailing from one of their communities was a Pueblo Indian. As an offspring of such a village, this baby might be variously referred to as a Pueblo Indian from Acoma, an Indian from the pueblo of Acoma, an Acoma Indian, a speaker of a western dialect of the Keresan language family—one of the five, mutually unintelligible languages spoken by Pueblo peoples across the Southwest—or, in that lexicon of theirs, Acume-ahne mu-dehish, meaning “an Acoma person.”Most of the Pueblo villages became further identified by the name of the Catholic saint whom the Spanish assigned as their spiritual patron—such as the pueblo of Saint Philip (San Felipe Pueblo) or the pueblo of Saint Dominic (Santo Domingo Pueblo). Other communities, like Taos Pueblo, Isleta Pueblo, Jemez Pueblo, or Acoma Pueblo, retained versions of their own names. For reasons that remain obscure, the saint selected in 1699 for Acoma was Saint Stephen (San Estevan). His identifying symbols were a handful of rocks, to represent the stoning of Christianity’s first martyr, and a palm branch, suggesting his heavenly reward for that self-sacrifice.Yet the Franciscans did not make Acoma drop its ancient name. The village was called Ha’ako, which translates neither as “Sky City,” the catchphrase promoted by the tribe’s tourist program, nor “people of the white rock,” as some popular authors suggest. Originally it may have meant “place of preparedness,” alluding to the mesa’s ability to protect its inhabitants from intruders. Or, as some Pueblo interpreters prefer today, it was “the prepared place,” to emphasize its importance as a haven ready to embrace the ancient emigrants who coalesced as the Acoma people.Acoma street with ladders, bread ovens, drying meat, firewood. • • • Shortly after the Franciscan campaigns to Catholicize their villages, each pueblo installed the carved and painted wooden statues known as santos in special niches within their new altarpieces. On his perch in San Estevan, the Acoma parishioners believed their little Stephen actually “lived,” as the latest addition to the company of their supernatural beings. Only during his birthday fiesta on September 2 does he emerge, borne on a bier by church elders to his brush-covered enclosure in the plaza. There he is guarded all day by young men standing with .30-30 rifles, honored by prayers, blessings, songs, and colorful dances until his return to the San Estevan altar before sunset. In the Pueblo mind the powers of these introduced icons only added to the force field already afforded by the sacred beings that really counted—their rain-controlling Katsinas.At the time of Spanish arrival in the mid-sixteenth century the Pueblo Indian world extended from the cottonwood-shaded eastern banks of the Rio Grande westward four hundred miles across the Continental Divide to the Painted Desert. Over this dry, elevated landscape, any other distinctions drawn by the Spanish between their villages were determined by their resistance or submission to the crown, to Spanish colonists whose farming settlements began encroaching on Pueblo lands, and to Catholic missionaries seeking their conversion. By this standard, the removed village of Acoma soon acquired its reputation as among the most recalcitrant and hostile of them all. • • • Not for another three centuries would outside scholars draw finer contrasts between the river Pueblos to the east and their desert brethren to the west. Striking among the features of most Eastern, or “Rio Grande,” Pueblos was their division into two social groupings, a practice largely absent in the west. Labeled by anthropologists as “moieties,” each of these halves, or “sides,” possessed its own circular kiva, the semisubterranean, customarily circular, secret meeting chamber for initiated members only. One side was identified with Summer and symbolized by vegetables (its members convened in the Squash or Pumpkin kiva); its complementary other half belonged to Winter and was associated with minerals (their men met in the Turquoise kiva).These internal divisions were also exogamous; that is, everyone married into the village’s “across” side, thereby knitting bonds of kinship throughout the community. At prescribed moments during their ceremonial year, these halves competed and collaborated to strengthen their collective identity. An overt symbol of their fundamental unity occurs during the last round of their all-day annual corn dance. Held during each pueblo’s main fiesta celebration, this is when the two divisions, which alternated throughout the day in their dance performances, merge in the plaza.Beneath the honeyed light of a late New Mexico afternoon, and hopefully under the downpour of a summer monsoon, the full throng of young and old, male and female villagers display to visitors and spirits alike their social integrity. They enact a ritual cycle that is part of the participatory responsibility of human beings in the maintenance of the universe. These ceremonies are, as succinctly put by Jemez Pueblo scholar Joe S. Sando, “carefully memorized prayerful requests for an orderly life, rain, good crops, plentiful game, pleasant days, and protection from the violence and vicissitudes of nature.”As the Rio Grande and its tributaries provided a steady supply of water for their cornfields, villagers along the river put much of their energy into upkeep on their irrigation canals. The stream’s reliability also freed them to concentrate on maintaining the sun’s strength throughout the year. Through equinoctial rituals such as competitive footracing events on sacred east-west “Sun Road” racetracks, they loaned the strength of their young men so the sun could make it through its weaker, low-lying winter months and return as strong as before. • • • With the Western, desert-dwelling Pueblos, however, the internal structure of villages was less cohesive. The Hopi and Zuni villages were looser aggregates of migrating clans that had congealed sporadically following the abandonments of the Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon regions in the late fourteenth century. Now they refined the dry-farming skills necessary to survive in a desert where irrigation was less reliable. Their symbols, prayers, and rituals concentrated on locating moisture in the ground and drawing rain from the clouds.Across this landscape the pueblo of Acoma sat almost dead center. Accordingly, her social structure and worldview combined aspects of west and east. She featured an assembly of clans, following the Western Pueblo model. But her political and social systems kept community integration to a tighter degree, as found farther east. Like the Hopi and Zuni villages, she displayed multiple, rectangular kivas (seven, it is believed). But only one of these sacred chambers seems to have housed the ceremonies that drew all tribal members under one roof.Acoma’s concept of the cosmos and her reliance on rain-connected “cloud” spirits reflected Western Pueblo beliefs. But the importance she placed on shamanic or “medicine men’s” societies was closer to curing practices along the Rio Grande. Her ceremonies, ritual art, and sacred chants focused on the rain-giving powers that made dry farming possible. At her “wet” farming camps, however, Acoma’s irrigation canals diverted water from the Rio San Jose and other streams much as their eastern cousins drew upon the Big River and its tributaries.For these reasons some scholars characterized Acoma as a “bridge” or “gateway” community, a sort of buckle to the crescent-shaped belt of Pueblo towns that extended from Arizona’s Painted Desert on the Colorado Plateau to the Rio Grande string of Pueblo villages. Hence, she can be viewed as an “epitomizing” exemplar of what being a pueblo means. Unlike European stereotypes of what American Indians looked like, lived like, and cared about, Acoma served all this up on a single sandstone island, to the wonderment of the world.Three-story Acoma house: first level for storage, second for sleeping, third for cooking.And no less a marvel to herself. At the climax of Acoma’s origin myth, as this child would put into words later in his life, here the destiny of their mythic War God Twins, sons of the sun, was fulfilled. Having subdued the world’s monsters, the Twins readied the big mesa for human occupation. It was selected, they said, “because they knew that Iatiku meant for the people to live on top of the rock, as it would be more wonderful and mysterious.” • • • In September 1861, seven months into the child’s life, his parents watched unfamiliar horsemen tying up their chunky horses down below. They weren’t built or dressed like Pueblo Indians. They were Apaches, linguistic cousins to the Navajo and an unnerving reminder that Acoma was not alone in this native region.Cloth headbands kept loose hair from their faces. Long breechcloths flapped over high-topped moccasins with hard rawhide soles and bobbed toes. Bandolier belts holding pistols and cartridges bounced around their long-sleeved Mexican cotton shirts. Only five years previously one of their war parties had chopped a local Indian agent to pieces and stolen Acoma’s cattle.Up they bounded on the single-file trail. Head and shoulders above the rest came a seventy-year-old man surrounded by bodyguards. His Chiricahua Apache name was “He Just Sits There,” Mexicans feared him as “Fuerte,” or “Strong One,” but the Americans who’d invited him here for a last-chance council knew him as the legendary Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves). “He comes nearer to the poetic ideal of a chieftain such as Homer in his Iliad would describe,” wrote one official. “The most magnificent specimen of savage manhood I have ever seen,” said another, who helped assassinate him two years later. The surgeon who performed his autopsy admired “muscles that would have crazed a young and enthusiastic student of anatomy. His limbs were faultless, perfection in proportions and symmetry.”Mangas was foremost in a line of Apache guerrilla leaders who had pillaged in old and new Mexico for decades. Their Athabaskan-speaking ancestors are believed to have originated from western Canada between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Migrating southward down the mountain chains, in the Southwest they splintered into the multiple bands we know of as Apache and Navajo and gained notoriety as exploiters of local opportunities.Toward the Pueblo peoples they found already residing here the newcomers developed a two-faced approach. Their agricultural skills were worth adapting, their arts and some of their religious concepts were appealing. Then they robbed them every chance they got. They sold Pueblo children into slavery, traded away or took as wives the women, rustled any livestock they could find, and made sure to strike during harvest time, when vegetables were ripe.Day Break’s parents need not have worried. Desperate to save his war-weary and decimated followers from encircling U.S. troops, Mangas was reviving a failed agreement he’d made here with white soldiers a decade before. When he broke this new pact and refused to stop marauding south of the Mexican border as well, it was the final straw. Under a flag of truce Mangas was soon captured, tortured with heated bayonets, and his head was mailed to Washington, D.C.Wariness of outsiders was thus bred into Acoma’s bones. Threats from Apache and Navajo predators produced a warrior code that coexisted with a Pueblo behavioral system that sought quietude and equanimity. Following the model of their mythic Warrior Twins, boys like Day Break were hardened from childhood. Soon enough he would begin his training at running, hunting, and vigilance.His people had internalized the necessity for that the hard way.4When Cosmologies Collide (1540)San Estevan—It creates a monumental interior space, which is one of the first and noblest to be built above ground on the northern part of the continent—a high-shadowed volume, fast and austere. . . . It is built of Indian materials, but it rejects the hived, stepped massing of Indian forms. Its verticality is uncompromised, but its horizontal axis is intensified as well. Its assertions are fierce and heroic, ultimately Hellenic in origin, and it physically introduces the divine pretensions of the European individual into the savagely innocent American land.—Vincent Scully, 1969A FEW HUNDRED FEET from the ladder that lifted Day Break’s mother to her roof terrace rose a building so large that it sometimes blocked the sun. As he looked around while she tanned deer and antelope hides, peeled long curls of squash for drying on racks, and shucked corn, he never forgot the impression. “The church was there,” he would recall, “when I first opened my eyes.” A reminder of the closest his people ever came to extermination, the largest Christian church in New Mexico could look equal in sacred authority to the Acoma sun itself. • • • Three hundred and thirty years earlier Acoma Pueblo was but a rumor to the outside world. The first Spaniard to hint at its existence was an emaciated survivor of Indian attacks and lonely wandering who stumbled into a northern Mexican town in 1536. Farther north, reported Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, were “many people and very big houses.”Two years later Father Marcos de Niza, a priest with a tendency to exaggerate, heard from an elderly Zuni Indian about a “kingdom” called “Acus,” one of an estimated 70 to 110 native pueblos spread across the Southwest. Then, in an August 1540 letter back to Spain, Don Francisco de Coronado mentioned “this settlement (Acus) and situated on a river that I have not seen but of which the Indians have told me.”Wolf Robe Hunt painting—ceremonial riders approaching Acoma mesa.But priests couldn’t reform these heathen outposts on their own. “You might as well try to convert Jews without the Inquisition,” Don Diego de Vargas would write, “as Indians without soldiers.” Later that same August, through Spain’s customary pairing of church and state in the persons of “the fighting friar,” Juan Padilla and Coronado’s fearless captain, Hernando de Alvarado, rumors became reality. “Thirty leagues from Cibola,” recorded a scribe of the Coronado expedition, “[Alvarado and Padilla] found a rock with a village on top, the strongest position that ever was seen in the world.”Acoma looking north—church and sacred mountain (Mount Taylor).Before the Spanish and Pueblo Indians could communicate through a common language, their symbols spoke for them. For many of the early, formal encounters between conquistadors and Pueblo people, that meant the Indians would first institute their ritual of protection. This entailed laying a line of sacred cornmeal before the entrance to their villages, which the Spanish were expected not to cross. For their part, the Spanish enacted their ceremony of possession. This meant reading aloud to the Indians from a text, the Requerimiento, which instructed every native community they encountered to accept Christianity and conquest, or expect war and total annihilation.When the Acoma people realized that Alvarado and company had no intention of respecting their powder on the sand, instead of starting a fight they set out a spread. Before long the bulk of the initially “warlike” Acomans descended from their mesa and joined what almost sounds like a southwestern version of a first Thanksgiving. The Spanish trespassers were fed home-raised turkey, steamed corn, rolls of parchment-like bread, squash, beans, and piñon nuts, and were presented with gifts of cloth made from homegrown cotton, tanned deerskins and buffalo hides, and turquoise quarried from local mines.Whether these were bribes to leave or invitations to visit didn’t concern the impatient Alvarado. After he clambered to the summit his soldier’s eye sized up the place. Like most Spanish appraisers of Acoma, he recognized its strengths as a natural fortress and reckoned that “it was a very good musket that could throw a ball as high.” Any attackers faced easily defended pathways that led up narrowing crevices with pecked-in toe and finger holds as the sole means for gaining access. Nor did a rock pile at the rim escape him, “which they could roll down without showing themselves, so that no army could possibly be strong enough to capture the village.”Alvarado appreciated how the cliffs rendered the site defensible by men whose only weapons were stones, clubs, spears, bows and arrows, and clay pots sealed full of angry bees that could be thrown, like organic hand grenades, on attackers below. He also noticed an underappreciated fact of traditional Pueblo Indian architecture. These honeycombs of piled-up rooms were food factories, designed as much for the grinding, drying, processing, cooking, and storing of edibles as for human habitation. Within the coolness of Acoma’s house clusters could be stashed enough dried corn, squash, venison, and other foodstuffs to last four years. The villagers need not descend for water—the large rock pools near the rim held three to five thousand gallons of fresh water, with guards making sure the area was swept clean and the water unpolluted.Over the following decades other visitors added their observations. They commented on Acoma’s extensive gardens and the farming stations that lay nearer the San Jose River. They reported on Acoma’s distrust of outsiders, which only deepened once they heard of clashes between their Zuni Pueblo neighbors and these swaggering strangers. A few detected in Acoma’s textiles, featherwork, jewelry, and dance regalia hints of trade relations with old Mexico. And they warned each other about the trapdoors that lay within their adobe apartments.Around forty years later, relations went downhill. Interpreting the community’s assurance of its sovereignty as “impudence,” Antonio de Espejo had his soldiers put “a fine field of maize” to the torch. He commented, as if surprised, that it was “a thing which they felt a great deal.” One imagines the shield-bearing warrior society of Acoma, the Opi, toughened by defending their people against predatory tribes, readying for a new threat.Firsthand accounts of sixteenth-century run-ins with the Spanish are hard to decipher, so off-base were white and Indian interpretations of each other’s behavior and so rapidly did miscommunications escalate into bad blood. Spanish accounts describe the Acomans as hospitable and compliant when, in late October l598, Don Juan de Oñate had them sign an agreement of obedience and homage. The document has never surfaced; we have only Oñate’s word on Acoma’s willingness to become Spain’s latest vassal.Oñate did recount that one Acoma leader, a cacique named Zutucapan, invited him into a kiva. Taking a look at the ladder protruding from its dark recesses, “with courteous disclaimers,” as one historian puts it, New Mexico’s prospective governor declined. This probably saved his life. It was an old ruse: the Indians slipping out, pulling up the ladder, shutting the kiva’s escape hatches, stuffing flaming brush, resinous splints, and dried chilis down the ladder well, and then hastily covering it, resulting in a blinding, stinging death for all within. • • • The Oñate “paper conquest” rolled west. To the Indians, its reading of the proclamation, the mimicked oaths of fealty and strange scratches on parchment, were bewildering, perhaps even amusing. During the Oñate administration (1598–1607), the Spanish added a bureaucratic layer upon the preexisting Pueblo system of leadership by religious leaders and caciques. Each tribe must appoint a governor (functioning as the tribe’s secretary of state for foreign affairs), lieutenant governor, sheriff, officials overseeing the irrigation ditches, and church wardens.To confer authority on this colonial regime, the Spanish replaced the feathered staffs of office wielded by Pueblo war chiefs in the sixteenth century with black ebony canes, capped with silver and festooned with silk tassels. Every governor was handed one, to be passed on during each midwinter’s investiture of a new officeholder—as continues to this day. These were paradoxical symbols, intended to secure Pueblo Indian allegiance at the same time that they certified the crown’s recognition of tribal sovereignty.Five weeks after Oñate’s close call at Acoma, Acoma invited a seventeen-member squad of Spanish soldiers led by Oñate’s lieutenant and nephew, Juan de Zaldívar, to a meal on the mesa. Now her true feelings burst forth. At a signal, Zaldívar and twelve of his men were clubbed and speared to death. Four of his soldiers survived by leaping to the sandy slope below. They grabbed their horses and raced to alert Oñate and the nearest Spanish outpost at San Juan Pueblo (today’s Ohkay Owingeh) on the Rio Grande.Two months later the uncle returned to Acoma, deep in mourning and hot for revenge. Oñate’s retaliation against Acoma Pueblo has gone down as the cruelest Indian defeat in southwestern history. During three days in late January 1599, his advance detachment of soldiers under Juan’s brother, Vicente Zaldívar, scaled the mesa and set about leveling the village. Their chipped-rock cannonballs pounded Acoma’s buildings into rubble. Roof beams, ceiling rafters, brush mats, tanned hides, woven cloths, food supplies, wooden tools—all went up in flames. “Dense columns of smoke poured forth from the windows,” wrote participant Gaspar Pérez de Villagrá, in his poetic epic on the siege, “as from the mouth of a volcano.” For killing eleven Spaniards and two servants nearly six hundred men, women, and children were reportedly hacked to death in the streets; an equal number were taken prisoner. Some were penned alive in the kivas beforehand, then killed and their corpses tossed off the cliffs.Following the bloodbath came a grotesque and still-controversial epilogue. All of Acoma’s men over the age of twenty-five were sentenced to have one foot cut off and twenty years of servitude. Males between twelve and twenty-five, plus females over twelve years of age, were sentenced to twenty years of servitude. More than sixty girls were sent to Mexican convents.Few Indians knew or cared about the trials in Spain later that year. The viceroy of New Spain, King Philip III, condemned not the horrors visited upon Acoma Pueblo but the harsh behavior of Spain’s commanders toward their own soldiers. Oñate himself was banished from Mexico City for four years, Zaldívar for eight, and the poet-hero of the assault, Villagrá, for six; each was fined eight thousand Castilian ducats. • • • The hideous episode notwithstanding, only thirty years later a remarkable new edifice rose on the rock.San Estevan del Rey took eighteen years to build. Largest of all Pueblo village churches, the oldest Catholic place of worship in America remains the best-preserved example of a seventeenth-century mission. How its sweat and toil was exacted from the native population remains unclear. Legend paints the Franciscan who arrived in 1629 to direct the construction, Fray Juan Ramírez of Oaxaca, as the compassionate padre of Catholic folk legend, all tonsure, rope-belted cassock, and long-suffering piety.He had walked the 150 miles from Santa Fe to a shell-shocked, rebuilding village with ample reason for detesting all Spaniards, and was reportedly greeted at the base of the mesa with a rain of stones. But he won their hearts, it is said, by behaving much like one of their own medicine men. As he walked away under yells and insults, an eight-year-old Acoma girl slipped and fell eighty feet down the mesa. Ramírez either caught her or broke her fall (in another milagro he is remembered as curing a dying child with baptismal water). It was a sign, goes Spanish folklore, and he was welcomed up top, where he spent the rest of his life.A procession begins: St. Stephen’s Day at Acoma village.Ramírez’s charisma supposedly inspired his new flock to erect this earthen megachurch in the middle of nowhere. An estimated twenty thousand tons of earth, sand, and clay were dug below the mesa and piled into burden baskets slung on Indian backs from tumplines stretched across their foreheads. Each carry-up was a chore; one scholar estimates the building required ninety thousand of these loads. Two feet of earth alone were necessary to even out the church’s nearly five-thousand-square-foot floor. Tons more fill went into the cemetery yard, or campo santo, so that its walled, boxlike expanse could level out the summit’s slanting bedrock. To retain this extension, a forty-foot rock wall rose flush up the mesa’s eastern flank. Including convent and cemetery, the new compound covered twenty-one thousand square feet.For the church’s vigas, or roof beams, ponderosa pines were felled from over twenty miles away (some say fifty). Trimmed to forty-foot lengths, they were de-barked and seasoned, then hefted onto the shoulders of relay teams of Indian men, a few dozen carriers per log—they were not to be desecrated, goes local folklore, by contact with the ground. Water for molding adobe bricks, mixing mortar and plaster, and whitewash filled the clay ollas balanced on Indian women’s heads that they brought from the cisterns nearly a thousand feet away.From the Acomas who worked with a white foreman in charge of restoring the badly eroded structure in the 1920s, however, came a different story. Without coercion from Spanish troops, as Bernhard Reuter was told, the building would not exist. His Indian crew walked Reuter around the lumpy remains of what they claimed was a military garrison, within San Estevan’s compound. They described forced labor by armed soldiers, workers in long files like slaves erecting Egypt’s pyramids, Indians expiring in the heat, and hunger due to absences from farming and hunting.This colossal structure, measuring 150 feet long and 40 feet wide, was the result. Some walls were eight to ten feet thick; its ceiling stood over 50 feet high. Down the hardened earthen floor ran a gutter for draining roof leaks. Native-drawn paintings on the walls depicted stylized sun, moon, and crop symbols. The priest’s section featured a dramatic reredo, or painted wooden altarpiece, that was the building’s glory. The interior served as an acoustical chamber that made every pipe and drum in the choir loft resound as if from heaven. • • • It is little wonder San Estevan was the first thing Day Break remembered. Today the building still looks “almost antagonistic to the adjacent rows of dwellings,” in architectural historian Marc Treib’s words. Despite the stories of renewed faith that enabled its rise so soon after the village’s destruction, Acoma no longer trusted the Spanish. Before long the pueblo’s pent-up anger and humiliation would contribute to one of the greatest firestorms in American Indian history.5Taking No More (1680)For the Pueblo people specifically, the greatest legacy of the Revolt of their ancestors has been that they have been able to endure with their cultural integrity intact, free to speak their native languages and to perform their ancient dances. Because of a desperate, despair-born gamble on the part of the Pueblo people of 1680, their descendants have lived to find that their well-being and continued cultural integrity is regarded as essential to the well-being of all of New Mexico and of the Southwest.—Alfonso Ortiz, 1983AFTER FATHER RAMÍREZ’S TENURE the battered old refuge of Acoma withdrew into a period of restorative peace and relative autonomy. Lying some distance from wagon routes like the Santa Fe and Chihuahua trails, it was further isolated by miles of juniper desert, steep-walled mesas, winding canyons, and ravines gouged by flash floods. Besides, until the early seventeenth century, Spain was preoccupied with nurturing her pioneer outposts along the Rio Grande frontier, and resolving power struggles between her own religious and military authorities.This kept Spanish meddling in Western Pueblo life to a minimum. Farther east, however, the invaders were exerting ever-greater control over Pueblo civil and religious affairs. More and more acres of Indian land were appropriated for Spanish colonists. Soldiers kept demanding higher taxes of maize and blankets. Increasing numbers of natives were conscripted to dig and haul in their silver mines. Pueblo boys and girls were seized for domestic work as servants in Santa Fe. By 1630 the Franciscans were claiming that around fifty priests were administering to a total of some sixty thousand baptized Indians in some ninety pueblos.Struck by surprise, the Spaniards retreat to old Mexico—reenactment for the film Surviving Columbus: The Story of the Pueblo People.But when they interfered in the practices of Pueblo belief and seasonal ritual, the Spanish went too far. In 1598 the original colonizer, Don Juan de Oñate, warned a gathering of Pueblo leaders to accept baptism or face “cruel and everlasting torment.” Two generations later priests were torturing Indians for “devil worship,” and officials were executing Indian leaders for sedition. In the 1660s tensions reached a head. On the Spanish side came an intensification of what one historian has termed “the Franciscan war on native religion”; from the Indian side, the absence of rain between 1666 and 1671 was blamed on these foreign witches.In 1675, Governor Juan Francisco Treviño made good on Oñate’s threat and outlawed meetings in hidden kivas and ceremonial dances in open plazas. Backed by the military, priests prohibited Katsina appearances, and soldiers stormed into kivas, kicked apart altars, and threw sixteen hundred masks, prayer sticks, and fetishes on bonfires. Treviño’s soldiers arrested forty-seven medicine men from a range of Rio Grande communities on charges of “practicing witchcraft.” Three “sorcerers” were hanged in their home villages, while the rest were carted in chains to Santa Fe, publicly flogged in the plaza, and thrown into jail.Among the beaten men was a middle-aged religious leader from the Summer division of San Juan Pueblo whose native name was “Ripe Squash”; Spanish documents register him as “Pope” or “Po’pay.” Little is known of his background, but with his charismatic leadership and die-hard antagonism toward all Spaniards he was the man for the moment. The 75 percent reduction of the Pueblo population since 1540 due to smallpox epidemics, the recent five-year famine, and increased raids by enemy tribes, made many Indians feel the end was near. The indignities of this antipagan crusade lit the fuse. There seemed little left to lose.The pueblos lashed back and Santa Fe was caught by surprise. An army of Pueblo warriors, mostly Tewa-speaking and raised practically overnight, surrounded the capital of New Spain. Governor Treviño was compelled to release his prisoners. Set free, Po’pay hurried north, bypassing his home village of San Juan and making the kivas of Taos Pueblo his base of operations.Po’Pay, leader of the 1680 All-Pueblo Revolt, marble statue by Cliff Fragua of Jemez Pueblo.As the Spanish later learned from rebels and defectors they tortured and interrogated, Po’pay underwent a mystical vision of three Katsina-like spirits. “[E]mit[ting] fire from all the extremities of their bodies,” they inspired him to hatch a war for freedom and told him how. Conspiring with other Pueblo leaders, Po’pay arranged for many Pueblo villages to rise up on the same day.The strategy for coordinating this feat was to dispatch cadres of runner-messengers in relays all across the desert. At dozens of villages they delivered yucca-fiber cords that were knotted according to the number of days before they were to rise up. Untying a knot each day, when the cords were clear the villagers were to “burn the temples” that had threatened the authority of their kivas, and “break the bells” whose clocklike tolling had challenged lifeways that were supposed to be synchronized to the sun and the seasons.So it happened on the new moon day of August 11, 1680, that the people of nearly two dozen pueblos and their roughly twenty thousand members, speaking different languages and spread over four hundred miles, rose as almost one. The first arrows flew at Tesuque Pueblo, just north of Santa Fe, killing its priest, Father Juan Pio. As the rest of Pueblo country rebelled, nearly all Franciscan churches were burned. Priests were hung beneath their belfries and their corpses were thrown on their altars. Some were forced on all fours and ridden like animals before their throats were slit. All told, twenty-one clerics were killed, and upwards of four hundred men, women, and children living in scattered Hispano enclaves lost their lives. The rest of Spain’s pioneers retreated south to safety.Evicting foreign spirits and vanquishing their symbols was just as important. The rebels burned crucifixes, smeared human excrement over the altar carvings of Catholic saints, and threw their rosaries into the fire. To purge their baptismal associations they waded into the Rio Grande and scrubbed their bodies with that all-purpose Pueblo purifier, the greasy gray suds of shredded yucca root. They burned introduced plants and seeds and butchered livestock identified with the colonists. The Corn Mothers, the rain gods, the spirits of the hearth, field, and hunt were back in force. Long term, the uprising can be considered the most successful in American Indian history. • • • Stories of his mesa’s destruction, and his people’s liberation eighty-one years later, were transmitted to Day Break without dates or books. They were conveyed through attachments to what the French historian Pierre Nora has called the “sites of memory” where the events occurred, and fragments of oral lore. Day Break was taken to the southwestern side of the mesa; under a cliff were the sooty smudges left from the great fires and Spanish gunpowder. On the rimrocks he played around the remains of a makeshift fort through whose portholes his ancestors once showered arrows upon the invaders. Whenever those days were recalled the women would break into ritual wailing over the survivors’ terrible punishment. “Those poor, poor boys,” they cried, tears streaming down their cheeks, as if it had occurred last year. From his early years Day Break was aware that he lived on the same uneven rocks that once soaked up his people’s blood.Anecdotes about the revolt also reached his ear. Someone pointed out where their priest, Father Lucas Maldonado, a native of Tribugena from the sherry-making region of southwestern Andalusia, was thrown over the cliff, together with his assistant. But Acoma lore added a twist that academic historians never caught. At Acoma, as Day Break later told his son Wilbert, they sealed some of the nuns whom they didn’t kill into an alcove and plastered them up alive. As for those they threw over the cliff, one escaped. Day Break heard that his robe served as a parachute and landed him safely on a sandbar. Seeing this miracle, the warriors let him limp back to Mexico and report the catastrophe.Still, native accounts of the uprising, whose effectiveness seems to have stunned the Indians almost as much as the Spanish, remained strangely piecemeal. When the Spanish interrogated the Indians, they couldn’t get a straight answer. “Who was the leader of the revolt?,” Jemez Pueblo historian Joe S. Sando says the Spanish governor demanded of some captured men, each speaking a different Pueblo language. “Oh, it was Payastiamo,” answered the Keresan prisoner. “Where does he live?” the governor inquired. “Over that way,” responded the rebel, pointing generally toward the mountains. From the Tewa speaker he extracted the name Poheyemu, and was told his home was in the northern mountains. A third man of the Towa tongue said the leader was Payatiabo and that he dwelled in the mountains, too.Each was probably referring to an identical spirit, known in the Tewa language as “he who scatters mist before him.” It was this same mythical mentor, added Pueblo Indian anthropologist Alfonso Ortiz, who was considered the keeper of plants, animals, and rituals, and whom Pueblo people regarded as a rival to the Spaniards’ Son of God. A native story even has Jesus and this spirit engaging in a competition, much like a classic shaman’s duel, in which the Indian wins by eating more squash, growing more corn, and uprooting a large tree.One explanation for this conspicuous silence on the revolt references the Pueblo aversion to recollections of bad times that might haunt the future. “The Pueblo Indians have an amnesia about the revolt,” Ortiz told Anglo historian David Grant Noble. “It was a very negative, traumatic event, and they put it out of their collective memory.” Or as Acoma historian Brian Vallo concurred, talking with author David Roberts, “What the elders do tell the kids is our migration story. But not about the atrocities, the fights. That doesn’t give you life, it doesn’t give you anything good.” And Hopi scholar Peter Whiteley adds, “The possibility of good relations with Hispanos and Anglos today depends on suppressing some of the past.” • • • Twelve years after the revolt, a three-hundred-member military expedition led by Don Diego de Vargas restored Spanish dominion over the region. Even after this reconquista, however, their sway was never total, their confidence never secure. The colonizers had learned a lesson articulated by photographer Edward Curtis many years later. Speaking of Acoma’s resistance to Spanish oppression, Curtis wrote, “In them we see emphasized the character of all the Pueblo people. Superficially smiling and hospitable, and, as long as all goes to their liking, most kindly. Anger them, and they are fiends. A purring cat with an ever-ready claw.”Chastened like few powers in the history of European colonialism, now the Spanish closed down the 175-year-old practice known as encomienda, by which it had felt free to distribute large swatches of land to its colonists, along with rights to the slavelike labor and resources of resident Indians. Royal, or “crown,” grants of four leagues of land, amounting to over seventeen thousand acres (known as the “Pueblo League”), were affirmed for each New Mexican pueblo. Even a public defender of sorts was assigned to protect Indian rights.Now evolved a unique détente that “compartmentalized,” as some academics have phrased it, the respective domains of the Christian church (initially Catholic, then Protestant); the chastened civil authority (first Spanish, then American), together with its mediating Indian governor and officials; and the guiding powers that the revolt restored to the traditional cacique and elders and medicine men. After this, as Santa Fe author Erna Fergusson wrote of the Santo Domingo Pueblo annual fiesta, “There is not the remotest connection between the mass for the saint and the ancient ceremony. They sit side by side; that is all; they do not touch.”6Becoming Their Own Spirits (1866)A kachina is not a god. . . . The sacred masks are handed down from generation to generation. In a kachina dance, the prayers of the people are transmitted to the kachinas by the elders of the village. And the dancers, having assumed the powers of the kachinas they’re impersonating, are able to act as messengers to our Father-Mother-Creator. Prayers are usually for rain and snow, good crops, good health, and well-being for people everywhere. . . . When you’ve been watching the kachinas all day, absorbing the rhythm of the stamping feet and turtleshell rattles, inspired by the music of voices in unison, muffled beneath the masks, you can’t help feeling the sincerity and dedication behind it all.—Fred Kabotie, 1977BY THE TIME he was five or six years old Day Break and his age-mates were aware that their lives were about to change. They knew it had to do with commencing their relationship to the rain-bringing spirits known as Katsinas (often spelled in the Hopi and Zuni literature as Kachinas). Their initiations were scheduled for midwinter, when the war chief and cacique had agreed for their age group to join the Katsina Society. On one of the village crier’s rounds, Day Break heard his name.Unusually tall for his age, he was bunched with the bigger children whose numbers had increased sufficiently over the past few years to form a cohort. Four days before the ceremony his father sought a sponsor, almost like another godparent, to shepherd him through the ordeal. The boy was bathed, his head scrubbed with yucca-root suds, and he was forbidden meat or salt.The youngsters were stripped down to breechcloths and ushered to the head kiva’s ladder. As if reverting to a state of babyhood, they were hoisted onto the backs of adults. This time it was wise old men and not their mothers who bore their weight. For they were about to undergo a second birth of sorts, as new members of this inner circle of their tribe. • • • Day Break was never fully prepared for the biannual visits from the Katsinas, one in midsummer, another near the winter solstice. Anticipating their appearance brought a shiver of excitement and apprehension. First he heard the throbbing of cottonwood-log drums, then the sizzle of rattles and scraps of song. People skidded down their house ladders to claim a view from near the Rainbow Trail. From around the corral behind the church, the masked spirits began appearing, and soon swelled into a company of seventy or so.Some of these Katsinas hailed from homes at far-off Wenimats, their sacred underground lake to the west. Others were said to live around the foot of Acoma mesa. Each had their identifying mask and body paint, attire and handheld accessories, their singular speech and whistles or chortles. Their buffalo-hide masks darted this way and that, the dark eye-holes warning onlookers to keep their distance. When one approached his mother, Day Break shrank back. The dancer left her with a toy bow and arrows so he would grow up brave.Masking in the Southwest has deep roots. A masked dancer on a black-and-white Mimbres bowl, Classic Period, 950–1150.A few he already recognized by name. There was Tsitsaniuts, “chief” of this intimidating crew. He noticed the fierce War God Twins: Masewi with his black face and Oyoyewi in his yellow mask, both gripping bows and clubs. The Hunter spirit in his rabbit-fur headgear; another known for throwing mud balls—whoever they struck would enjoy long life; the Runner Katsina with a bear paw painted on his face (he had once raced a bear and won); and blind Kaubat, escorted by his mother with her rattling sheep bones. Others showed up as full teams: the Good Farmers, green vines atop their dance masks; the Crow, Duck, and Mountain Sheep Katsinas; and other bands of supernatural personalities.Their dancing commenced on the bedrock between San Estevan and the seventh houseblock, followed by a counterclockwise tour of eight traditional dancing stations spaced around the streets. It was as if they were lacing the community together through a choreography that lasted all day. • • • Who were these mysterious beings? At one time they were a central feature in most Pueblo mythologies and ceremonies. By the mid-nineteenth century it was only among the Western Pueblo villages of Hopi, Zuni, and Acoma where the role of the Katsinas remained most alive in story and performance.Spirit entities of many parts, they serve as friends, allies, teachers, and divine intercessors, communicating between human beings and the cosmic forces. They are the incarnations of the deceased, the embodiments of one’s bygone relatives and friends and fellow villagers. They are anthropomorphized aspects of clouds, mountains, and springs. They ride on the clouds, they are the clouds, they control the weather. They are the spiritual backbone of the people. All these meanings and more inhere in these sacred creatures.Children like Day Break were smart to be on edge when they were out and about. Proud and quick to take offense, Katsinas always knew if you’d been bad or good. If disrespected they could retaliate by withholding rain or game or dispensing storms and earthquakes.It is misleading, even demeaning, to term the “belief” in them as constituting a “cult,” as was common in southwestern scholarship. In their otherworldly society, which runs like a parallel presence to that of humans, Katsinas enjoy a deathless existence. On their goodwill the people depend. Rather than being worshipped, they are propitiated, honored, and hosted. For they are messengers and mediators, guardians and friends, and preservers of core culture. In fact, there is no such thing as belief in Katsinas; they constitute an ultimate reality. To one writer they embodied “the spiritual essence of everything in the real world.” But a term apparently coined by writer Charles Lummis may sum up their nature even better. He called them The Trues.Whether inviting them for regular visits or in times of need, humans contact the Katsinas through cloudlike puffs of smoke from prayer cigarettes of homegrown tobacco rolled in dampened corn husk. Or they leave prayer sticks for them, as invitations left at designated sites. As a medicine man, Day Break’s father was often sending them his people’s prayers for rain, good health, and long life. He carved his prayer sticks only from the branches of particular trees. He painted and clothed them variously, and deposited them at appropriate shrines. From there they would time-travel, so to speak, to their respective Katsina homes. When these actions were done properly, and the prayer sticks were strengthened with good thoughts, the Acoma people could sing about the results.Here is one Katsina song Day Break never forgot:Nicely again the raingods have returned.Life-giving crops as a gift to the people they have brought.Nicely again the raingod Nawish has arrived,Raingods and game as a gift to the people they have brought.Nicely the kernels of the corn turn yellow,They form the yellow color.Pueblo believers and Anglo scholars tell different stories of Katsina origins. To the Acoma people their “mother” deity, Iatiku, first created these beings and instructed them about their symbiotic coexistence with humans. In exchange for the happiness and support they delivered from their world—clouds, moisture, and long life—the people would provide sustenance from theirs. This meant the disembodied “essences” of such good things as corn pollen and tobacco smoke.In a ritual that was common throughout the Pueblo world, Iatiku first “opened” (blessed) the road to Wenimats, the Katsinas’ distant home, which lay beneath a weed-filled lake to the west and south of Acoma mesa. “Whenever my people want you,” she proclaimed, “they will send prayer sticks like these.” She carved the first samples so each Katsina could recognize the message aimed specifically to them, and ordered, “You must respond.”Along with these Katsinas, who served in summertime, she created a complementary band, the Kopishtaya, to “rule the winter clouds.” They were more oriented toward male values; to them her people would pray so as “to obtain bravery and long, healthy life.” Not long afterward, continued the myth, the Katsinas arrived “in a cloud” for their first gathering with humans. They danced and exchanged presents and all were happy—but only for a while.Not until the 1980s did an archaeologist, E. Charles Adams, a veteran excavator of early Hopi sites in Arizona, present an outsider’s theory about the origin of Katsinas. After comparing recurrent motifs in rock art, old pottery designs, and kiva murals found across the Colorado Plateau, Adams argued that by the early fourteenth century native ideas about weather-controlling spirits had synthesized into a new belief system. The impetus was the need for an ideology that could unify the immigrant clans who were abandoning older regions, such as Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, and converging in a series of larger, hastily built communities. In the past they were labeled either “Cliff-Dwellers” or, after the 1938s, as “Anasazi,” from a Navajo word meaning “enemy ancestors.” Now the preferable term became “Ancestral Pueblo,” which acknowledged them as the parent groups of today’s southwestern villages.In Adams’s reconstruction, these migrants continued southward, building and abandoning towns until they settled where the early Spaniards found them. For some of these composite communities, the Katsina system’s form of priestly leadership, spiritual outlook, and associated symbols offered a kind of social glue. It overcame language differences and was not based on kinship ties or shared political styles. Plazas and kivas became the common arenas for Katsina performances, which were focused around controlling the weather, eliciting rain, and cultural survival. • • • So Day Break disappeared down the ladder, clinging to his sponsor’s back. Awaiting the youngsters was Acoma’s cacique and other elders. “I was pretty scared,” he told anthropologist Leslie A. White. When one of the masked beings holding a bundle of yucca blades barged into the kiva, “I thought the Whipper Katsina was real.”After flailing at each child’s back and legs, the Whipper spirit exited the kiva. Soft eagle breast plumes representing sanctifying breath were tied in each of the children’s hair. Following four long days of song, storytelling, and instruction, the initiates were released. They looked exhausted and somber; their elders remained inside, praying, dancing, and singing until dawn.The ceremony was not quite over. “They didn’t show us the masks until two or three years afterward,” Day Break remembered, “when we got old enough to know about such things.” The masks contained the Katsinas’ sacred potency, which is why the Hopi called such masks “friend.” Led by their sponsors behind San Estevan Church, the initiates found the ranks of Katsina impersonators resting on the banco (bench) that lined the building. But this time their faces were naked; at their feet lay their buffalo-hide Katsina masks. Now the youngsters could recognize their parents, relatives, and neighbors.With the mystery of the Katsina impersonators revealed, Day Break and the others entered a deeper strata of Acoma social responsibility. All this they were sworn never to reveal. They were told how human disrespect of Katsinas had once led to an epic war between the two that left many dead on both sides. They learned how the technique of impersonation was invented by Iatiku to make sure this rupture was never repeated. From now on the Katsinas would help humankind from a distance.Soon to be initiated: Day Break’s nephew and Day Break’s older brother, Cipriano Rey.They were taught the perils of masking. Donning them and assuming their otherworldly personae meant more than playing a theatrical role. Impersonators internalized their particular Katsina’s spirit; they half became what they enacted. Until the removal of these masks, the wearers existed in a shaky transitional zone between human and supernatural identities. Infraction of taboos associated with the ceremony, breaches of celibacy, or failure to use emetics properly could leave a person trapped between states of existence. At the Keresan-speaking pueblo of Zia, for instance, Leslie White heard of a long-ago couple who had sexual relations during the four-day purification period before a Katsina dance. When they tried to pull off their Katsina masks they found them stuck to their faces. The transgression led them to permanently become what they were personifying; no longer talking like humans, they could only utter the cries of their particular Katsina. Their neighbors walked them around the village, as if to offer a last goodbye. The couple waded into the Jemez River and sank out of sight.Similar to such initiations the world over, the injunction to safeguard restricted knowledge was driven home. Whipping from yucca staves, sometimes until the blood ran, fixed these warnings into muscle memory. Speaking of such ordeals among Hopi youngsters, religious scholar Sam Gill emphasized how the “experience of disenchantment” when the masks were removed ended their innocence. For Gill this opened them up to a deeper religious awareness, and established “an agenda of religious inquiry and a keen interest in pursuing it.” These revelations did not mean that their people’s beliefs were a sham. The world was replete with paradoxes, ambiguities, and covert realities. These were theirs. • • • Day Break never divulged how this indoctrination and its revelations affected him. But he knew the demands that came with them. Eventually he was expected to don a mask, experience intimacy with his Katsina, join their dances, and remember the first Katsinas and their part in his people’s origin story. Of those duties he fulfilled only the last, but he would not care whether the circumstances for sharing them were sanctioned or not.Yet Day Break never brought outsiders to any Katsina dances. To this day whites have been excluded from witnessing the comings and goings of the cloud-and-rain beings of Acoma.7Mericanos Are Here (1846)The total picture of the Corps operating in the West is, more than anything else, a picture of the cultural mind in action. It represents the collective absorption by a people of new knowledge, and an appreciation of the complexity of the modern world as the nineteenth century began to see it. Above all it provides a picture of man employing all his skills to arrive at a kind of ordered knowledge of his environment.—William H. Goetzmann, 1959DAY BREAK’S PARENTS were among the nearly naked kids who hid their laughter behind their hands on October 21, 1846, as twenty-five-year-old James William Abert and an assistant trudged up the curving burro trail and stood on Acoma’s sacred roost. These white men looked different from the earlier Spanish, and also from the Mexicans who’d taken over after winning their war for independence. Above his straggly goatee, Abert’s face was a pinkish color, and he spoke a hard-sounding language they rarely heard. Dropping the leather satchel carrying his note and sketchpads, Abert tried to ignore the touching, running, and jumping children who crowded around the visitors in their uniforms and heavy boots.Abert arrived only two months after U.S. Army general Stephen W. Kearny stood in the Las Vegas town plaza to claim New Mexico for the United States. Three days later Kearny repeated his declaration in Santa Fe, again victorious without firing a shot. The bloodless victory coincided with Abert’s more benign mission as the youngest officer in the eight-year-old U.S. Corps of Topographical Engineers. In anticipation of the takeover, he was assigned to take stock of any natural and cultural resources that might benefit the nation over the long haul.That morning Abert left Laguna Pueblo, “surrounded by crowds of children who, impelled by curiosity, flooded the camp,” and headed south for Acoma. His party crossed sheep paths and local Hispanos leading burros laden with clingstone peaches, watermelons, and dried fruits for delivery in Cubero. He encountered Indian shepherds driving flocks of sheep to market in Santa Fe. Per his assignment, he took notes on the ecology: the broad leaves of cholla cacti, the pink-berried mistletoe, the harvest of peaches and apricots, the contrast between softer and harder sandstones.Acoma Mesa and U.S. Army Engineers Camp: James Abert drawing, 1846.After about fifteen miles Abert’s party reached “our goal, the ultima thule of our advance, the magnificent ‘sierra,’ that raises its summits several thousand feet where they mingle with the clouds.” Then he made out “high on a lofty rock of sandstone . . . the city of ‘Acoma.’ On the northern side of the rock, the rude boreal blasts have heaped up the sand, so as to form a practical ascent for some distance; the rest of the way is through solid rock.”Filing between a narrow passage, “the road winds round the spiral stair way, and the Indians have, in some way, fixed logs of wood in the rock, radiating from a vertical axis, like steps; these afford foothold to man and beast in clambering up.” As the first official representative of the United States, Abert was the vanguard of a powerful new authority over Western Pueblo Indian lands and lives. Unlike earlier foreigners to enter their world, the Mericanos he represented were here to stay. • • • Once the Treaty of Córdoba freed Mexico from Spanish rule in late August 1821, Pueblo Indians were no longer royal subjects. To the silver-headed canes of office that each pueblo had received from the king of Spain was added a second group of ceremonial canes of alliance and respect from their new Mexican overlords. But this regime was less invasive. During the twenty-eight-year Mexican Period, Pueblo Indians were granted full citizenship, promised racial equality, and had their titles to communal lands confirmed.Base of Acoma Mesa, sand hill side: James Abert drawing, 1846.The Catholic presence had also lightened up; in out-of-the-way Acoma clerics were practically nonexistent. Over the late eighteenth century, Franciscans stopped replacing their friars who died of old age; after the Mexican takeover, any who were Spanish-born nationals, representing the old disregarded monarchy, were expelled. Fewer than six priests remained in a region they once dominated. In the orphaned Hispano hamlets of San Mateo and Cubero north of Acoma, and similar little villages along the Rio Puerco valley, the clerical vacuum was filled by lay brotherhoods of the Cofradía de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno, generally known as Los Penitentes for carrying on Old World practices of self-flagellation and intensely devout Lenten processions and Semana Santa (Easter Week) enactments. Now they assumed governing functions as well, while the heavy hand on native religious expression was lifted. Once again the open plazas of the Indian pueblos resounded with ceremonial dancing, and prayerful chants rose from the kivas.James Abert drawing of the Padre’s Trail, 1846.However, this also meant fewer protections against encroachment upon Pueblo lands by an upsurge in Hispano homesteaders and sheepherders. More and more Indians were bringing their complaints before local constabularies and courts, to little avail. Meanwhile, the alliances that once maintained an off-and-on peace between Spain and more nomadic tribes like the Comanche, Ute, Navajo, and Jicarilla Apache had frayed. Adding to the allure of slave-taking was easy pickings from the merchant caravans that no longer paid Spanish taxes and clogged the Santa Fe, Gila, and Chihuahua trade routes. Auxiliary warriors from pueblos like Laguna and Acoma joined local militias for protection against predatory nomads. Although freed from Spanish domination, and while the Americans would vow to honor their Spanish land grants, for the moment pueblo life was unstable and dangerous again. • • • The formal agreement between Mexico and the United States via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo remained two years and a brief conflict away. Its outcome was a foregone conclusion, but the American republic wanted a better idea of what it was about to own. Across the uncharted West, Washington dispatched inquiring eyes like Abert’s for a closer look.His mission embodied the split personality of many official walkabouts. Advance men for the nation’s doctrine of Manifest Destiny, the officers of his corps were half scientific explorers, half imperialist appraisers. Generally they were individuals of an adventurous spirit who reveled in the mandate to exercise their country’s avaricious curiosity.Abert’s presence in this prelude to occupation and exploitation was a family affair. Back in 1838 President Van Buren had named his father, Colonel John J. Abert, to command the new corps. The colonel turned around and assigned his son, a recent West Point graduate, to John C. Frémont’s 1845 expedition across the Great Plains so as to halt Mexico’s dreams of a northern empire. James Abert, a softer soul than the rough-and-tumble Frémont, was to fulfill the corps’ scientific mandate. Following the model of Lewis and Clark forty years earlier, he was to take barometric readings, make astronomical observations, and record flora, minerals, fauna, fossils, and native life. A trained engineer, Abert would assess sources of gold and coal, determine the best routes for railroads and riverboats to transport raw materials, locate timber for ties for the soon-to-come railroads, and survey the optimal locations for military forts to defend the still-little-known Trans-Mississippi West.Even though Frémont’s four-month mule train expedition left him ill and recuperating at Bent’s Fort, Abert did not falter from sketching Indians around the trading post and collecting their tribal vocabularies. By early October he was in charge of his own team. With fellow engineer Lieutenant William Peck, Abert followed the Santa Fe Trail from Kansas to central New Mexico’s Galisteo Basin. He inspected gold placer mines in the Ortiz Mountains, spun la cuna at Hispano fandangos with señoritas in Santa Fe, prayed beside their parents in Catholic pews, and rode south to sip homemade wine in Bernalillo. Continuing on the old wagon route leading west, he collected fossils and camped outside Laguna Pueblo. Then he tired of the pesky kids who “impeded the men in the performance of their duties” and turned toward Acoma.After catching their breath atop the mesa, Abert and his assistant saw “one of the first objects that strikes the eye . . . a large chapel with its towers and bells”—San Estevan Church. When he wondered about the villagers’ seeming inability to communicate in Spanish, his geographer reminded him of an old Spanish law that forbade whites from visiting Acoma and denied her Indians admittance to white settlements.By the time of Abert’s arrival Acoma’s population had fallen to under four hundred inhabitants and was still dropping. But he was invited to walk up the partition steps to their roof terraces, where he noticed the walls “covered with festoons of bright red peppers, and strings of pumpkins and musk melons, that have been cut into ropes, and twisted into bunches to dry for winter use.” The Indians arrayed basketfuls of clingstone peaches for drying on the rooftops and, “with great gladness,” motioned him to “eat, eat.”In consistency their scrolls of unleavened cornbread bore “a striking resemblance to a hornets nest; it is of the same color and is thin as a wafer.” After showing off their sleeping chambers, they escorted him to lower storerooms packed with “corn, pumpkins, melons and other eatables.” Outdoors the Indian men were wrapped in broad-striped Navajo-woven blankets that hid baggy cotton pantaloons, bound at the knees with red cloth straps, while the women, Abert noted, stuffed their leggings with wool “which makes their ankles look like the legs of an elephant.”Upon his descent Abert returned to his task. In these final decades before the prevalence of photography, he sketched the first views the world would have of Acoma’s wonders—a close-up of the trail leading up the mesa, a broader view of the sandy drifts at its base, and, from his camp tent at the valley’s main spring, a panorama of the mesa entire.Following this expedition, the quality of Abert’s verbal descriptions and visual renderings quelled accusations of nepotism that had greeted his father’s naming him for this plum assignment. After the Civil War abruptly ended this age of exploration, Abert survived the Shenandoah campaign to become a teacher of English literature in Kentucky. • • • Before the U.S. military abandoned such scientific inquiries, however, it lost its primary responsibility over Indian affairs. In 1849, the U.S. Congress turned that assignment over to its just-established Department of the Interior. This reshuffling began the paradoxical process of supposedly protecting Indians from brutal treatment by soldiers and militia while opening their treaty-protected lands to white speculators and settlers. Its ultimate goal was to hasten the day when Indians might be transformed into “self-supporting, self-respecting, and useful citizens of the United States,” as a new, reform-minded Board of Indian Commissioners soon put it.But a third initiative commenced as well. The previous year the U.S. Congress had established a national repository for the collection of natural history specimens, historical oddities, and social and religious information on the same American Indian traditions that it became so anxious to stamp out. The brainchild of a precocious young scientist named Joseph Henry, its holdings were generated in large part by voyages like Abert’s into the terrae incognitae west of the thirty-one established states. The unit would be named after James Smithson, an amateur British mineralogist who bequeathed £100,000 to the United States for “the increase & diffusion of Knowledge among men.”In the spring of 1848 the Smithsonian Institution laid a cornerstone for its red-stone Castle. As its first secretary, Henry made his passion for American Indian cultures one of his priorities. The Smithsonian’s first publication concerned Indian ruins in the Mississippi River valley. In 1879 the Bureau of American Ethnology was established expressly to record the languages, legends, and customs of the American Indian.Sixty-three years later, the 135th bulletin of the Bureau of American Ethnology would be devoted to the memories and spiritual lore of the son of two of those hardly clad children who giggled at the sunburnt Mericano man taking stock of their mesa on behalf of an expanding nation.8Toward the New West (1861–66)In 1864 Acoma was described in the same manner as it was in 1540, with houses in parallel rows, ladders used for ingress and egress to the buildings, low arch formation for doorway passages, and window plates of crystallized gypsum. There are also descriptions of a variety of fruits and vegetables, blue corn foods, herds of sheep and cattle, weaving, pottery and basketry, and evidence of Spanish silver.—Velma Garcia-Mason, 1979THE YEARS THAT THRUST Day Break into the world and bracketed his childhood represented a hinge moment in American history. The War between the States was followed by the last-ditch uprisings of Plains Indian tribes and final outbreaks of rebellious desert tribes. The country’s population, economics, and lifestyles were dividing between the habits and heritage of a lawless, unfenced frontier and the aspirations of an emerging civic consciousness. “A journey of even a few miles in 1860,” writes historian Adam Goodheart, “could take you from bucolic isolation—and most Americans still lived on farms or in small villages—into a maelstrom of ceaseless news, advertisements, celebrities and mass spectacle.”Over the next quarter century technological innovations knit America’s many outbacks into a single, mostly domesticated nation. The Pony Express, which for a brief interlude carried mail thousands of miles across open country, was shortly eclipsed by the telegraph, and quickly came the telephone. The stagecoach was soon outrun by the railroad, to be followed in short order by the automobile.With hardly a breather, the boundless Old West became fenced, sanitized, and then romanticized through the succession of dime novels, Wild West shows, and early western films. Boomtown lawlessness and violence-backed greed bowed to the spirits of hometown pride, civil society, and spreading capitalism. In the mid-1880s the Southwest was attracting its first tourists. Visitors lost no time looking back on these recent years of a raw frontier with sepia-tinted nostalgia. Another decade and the nation’s door opened on a century of modernization and industrialization. Rarely in American history had Before and After stood so close. • • • In the late winter of 1861, when Day Break was still an infant, events nearer to home plunged his high desert into turmoil. Only forty-five miles west of his home mesa, at Bear Springs on the very day of his birth, a frustrated United States made its final pitch to suppress Navajo raiding through peaceful means.For centuries Navajos had pillaged Spanish villages and stolen Pueblo corn and sheep. Their clans and families were in turn decimated by Spanish slavers. A state of insecurity and almost-war kept everyone’s nerves on edge. But that afternoon at Bear Springs the offer of free rations and protection by U.S. soldiers induced the more progressive Navajo headmen to sign the Fort Fauntleroy Treaty and accept an accord. On paper, at least, that meant they would desist from the thievery that had become as much a Navajo reflex as roaming free and tending their sheep.The following September the Navajo bands galloped into the fort for the promised supplies. But the local commander, a former slave hunter named Colonel Manuel Chaves, turned a minor quarrel into an excuse for murdering a dozen of them. Distrust flared back up; for three more years the landscape known as Dinetah became outlaw country again.The reassignment of federal troops to face the Confederate threat to the east gave the more warlike Navajos, branded as ladrones (thieves) by their victims, free rein. They set upon more affluent fellow Navajos, known as ricos (rich ones), and anyone else within reach. Their younger warriors rustled from the newly expanding Mexican and Anglo stock ranches. Then the Navajos became prey themselves, as white slave hunters revived their open season on the now-renegade tribe.This was the last straw for major general James Henry Carleton. A Maine-born, fifty-year-old infantry officer who had just defended the territory against Confederate incursions, Carleton was the antithesis of empathetic military men like James Abert or the ethnographer Major John Gregory Bourke. “All Indian men of that tribe are to be killed,” Carleton had ordered in 1862, when assigned to quell Mescalero Apache marauders, “whenever and wherever you can find them. . . . If the Indians send in a flag of truce, say to the bearer . . . that you have been sent to punish them for their treachery [and] that you are there to kill them.”In 1864 Carleton launched a campaign that was seared into Navajo memory as the “Fearing Time.” Near today’s Grants, he set up his command center at old Fort Wingate. A mountain man who’d entered the Southwest during the Mexican Period’s mercantile heyday, Colonel Christopher “Kit” Carson of Taos, was tapped to recruit Ute Indian mercenaries and impose a scorched-earth policy. Navajos were hounded out of canyon redoubts. Resisters were killed on sight. Thousands of Navajo sheep were slaughtered and left to rot, their cornfields dispersed, family compounds and few possessions burned. Most of the tribe was rounded up and driven on a four-hundred-mile trek to the cottonwood-shrouded banks of the Pecos River in southeastern New Mexico. After what became known as “the Long Walk,” much of it in the dead of winter, they joined their sometime enemies, the already imprisoned Mescalero Apaches, in a giant internment camp. Here they languished for four terrible years beset by sickening alkali water, spoiled food supplies and malnutrition, venereal disease, abrasive relations with other prisoners, and military brutality.Map of Central New Mexico • • • Meanwhile, the last bands of off-reservation Apaches in Arizona Territory continued their hit-and-run attacks on settlements, freight trains, and stagecoaches on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. The month of Day Break’s birth witnessed the Chiricahua Apache leader Cochise’s being invited to a parley with American representatives at Apache Pass. Bad blood between them was boiling since the previous spring when the legendary Mimbres Apache chieftain Mangas Coloradas was jumped by copper miners and humiliated by a bloody horsewhipping before being released. Soldiers tried something similar on Cochise for allegedly stealing cattle and kidnapping a white boy, but he cut his way out of an army tent, fled into the hills, and launched the last of the Apache wars that only ended with Geronimo’s surrender twenty years later.For Plains Indians farther north, the early years of Day Break’s life signaled the bloody beginning to an inevitably tragic end. The final Plains Indian bids for freedom began with the Santee Sioux outbreak of August 1862. In an uprising on the scale of the All-Pueblo Revolt of 1680, but less well organized, some four hundred western Minnesota homesteaders were killed, while hundreds more settlers fled the region. The succession of major battles and running standoffs between a dozen or more Plains Indian tribes and U.S. troops and militias would end with the massacre of Plains Indian Ghost Dancers at South Dakota’s Wounded Knee Creek in 1890. Popular historians would seize upon that tragedy as a convenient benchmark for closing their chronicles of the American Indians. But the demise they invoked would actually prove contrary to the remarkable survival and eventual resurgence of Indians across the country. • • • These regional clashes rumbled within a country already at war with itself. The week Day Break was given to the sun and received his name, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as president of the Confederacy. Two months later pro-slavery rebels in South Carolina bombarded Union forces at Fort Sumter. The fight for the nation’s soul was coupled with a burst of expansionism that called for removal, containment, or obliteration of any western tribes in the way.Most Americans picture the struggle between brothers as a North-South contest. Its East-West dimensions are less understood because the West did not immediately feel allegiance to any national unity. It was difficult for Californians to feel connected to Washington when it took a voyage around Cape Horn, or three weeks on an Overland Stage facing Indian attacks, or else hopping ship-to-ship and then trudging through the Panamanian jungle and another long boat ride for easterners to even reach the place.The Civil War’s impact on Pueblo Indian country was minimal. In July 1861, breakaway Texans claimed southern New Mexico for their short-lived Confederate Territory of Arizona. Its high point came when Confederate general H. H. Sibley briefly seized Albuquerque and Santa Fe. But his defeat in late March 1862 at Glorieta Pass at the hands of Colorado irregulars sent him packing back to Texas. • • • 

Editorial Reviews

Praise for How the World Moves“[A] dazzling biography of a man whose life both spanned and exemplified extraordinary cultural changes . . . How the World Moves generates its own dizzying cosmology, a universe in which cultures collide, indigenous people become refugees, and many have to ‘strike hard bargains between tradition and progress.’” – The Boston Globe    “A comprehensively researched biographical epic. . .How the World Moves is not only Hunt’s story, it is also a history of the time he lived in and the socioeconomic forces that shaped that time.”  – The Santa Fe New Mexican                                                   “Colonialism and dispossession cast such a shadow over the American past that it takes extraordinary effort to uncover the complexity and inventiveness of the indigenous people whose home this is.  This brilliant family biography shines a floodlight onto the last century of Indian experience, lifting some of that shadow and revealing extraordinary people who were both heroic survivors and creative architects of a new, modern identity. Nabokov has produced an epic, instructive tale.  If you thought you understood America and its past: think again.”  – Frederick E. Hoxie, author of This Indian Country: American Indian Activists and the Place They Made   "Peter Nabokov's How the World Moves is a beautiful journey over a terrain of race, culture, and Native American identity.  Nobody weaves American Indian lore together with the tick-tock realities of the modern condition more brilliantly than Nabokov." – Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior:  Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America   “How the World Moves is doubly unique.  The Hunt family’s atypical trajectory within Pueblo society is well served by the rare depth of Peter Nabokov’s friendship, knowledge, and research.” – Lucy R. Lippard, author of Partial Recall:  Photographs of Native North AmericansFrom the Hardcover edition.