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   AWATOVI   by jc walker


Chilled, in the winter morn

On Antelope Mesa in the Hopi Nation

The high desert skies blue clear

O’er rocks red and green scrub

We reach the gate with permission and the key

We top the rise and see Awatovi

Not much to see where three centuries

Gone, thousands once thrived

A few low walls and scattered stones

The only reminders of the bones

Of the dead which must lie below

Even knowing the history

I feel unmoved

Until I hear the crunching beneath my feet

Of broken shards of pottery

Not just here but everywhere I see

More broken shards of pottery

Then of a sudden I now do see

The flames licking the skies

Feeling their heat I hear the screams

Of the burning and bleeding

The fleaing and pleading

And the dying, so many dying

In the massacre of Awatovi


The Pueblo People called it home

For centuries, then the Spanish came

With their priests and in God’s name

They forced the People to build a church

Atop the sacred kivas

From pueblo to pueblo it was the same

Moving westward until they came

To the Hopi in Awatovi

Then further on to Mesas

First, Second and Third

The Hopis still danced and followed the Way

Which to the padres was sorcery

So they whipped them and hanged them

Or  just cut off a foot

Their masks and relics they turned into soot

The rains stopped and the People could see

It was all because they lost their Way

Then it was that a man called Po’Pay

In an eastern pueblo began to plot

From village to village he went for years

Uniting the People into one

To each Pueblo was sent a knotted string

Then a knot was untied each morning

The last knot untied signaled the Pueblo Revolt

In dozens of pueblos, over hundreds of miles

The People rose up

The churches they burnt

The padres pushed off the cliffs

The Spanish were killed or driven away

The People in peace returned to the Way

But peace didn’t long last

For the Spanish were cunning

And stubborn and soon returned

To the pueblos in the east

Many People were killed and the Way did they subvert

As the People were forced again to convert

But the Hopi out west were just too far away

For awhile they lived on in the Way

Til that day to Awatovi the padres came

And were welcomed in

Rebuilding the church, bigger this time

The three other mesas felt this was a crime

The Hopi Way would not stand

With this blot again on the land

They gathered together a party of war

Attacking their own in Awatovi

Throw fire down the kivas

Pull up the ladders

Kill all the men

Take the women and children

Kill the padres

Burn down the churches

And just to be certain

That no one returns

Shatter all the pots

All the bowls and urns

They paid a horrid cost

So much was dearly lost

And the guilt remains

But the Spanish never returned

Again the People followed the Way

And down to this day

The Hopi remain

One of the few tribes

Never conquered

Never colonized


When you brutalize a people

And make them desperate

Filled with fear and hate

Even a Peaceful People

Will turn to heinous acts

To regain their liberty

Brutality begets brutality

Repression brings revolt

Whenever I see them

Take away a people’s hope

Crush them til they can’t cope

Demean them and debase them

Make them less than human

Then again there is that crunch and

I feel the flames and hear the screams


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