Mainstream archaeologists say that the ancient people’s of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico turned into cannibals and that brought the demise of their society. However, the Pueblo people (including the Hopi) find this assumption insulting and offensive and their own tribal archaeologist do NOT agree with mainstream academic archaeologist as to why the people of Chaco “abandoned” their great city. Instead, they speak of the people of Chaco moving north due to drought and poor harvests which, in my mind, is most likely TRUE! Two things you might want to keep in mind when it comes to SOME archaeologists of academia is that when they can’t explain something they pass it off as having something to due with religion. And if religion doesn’t fit the bill then there’s always cannibalism! Sloppy thinking and sloppy assumptions in my book!!
Tribal archaeologists listen to the oral traditions and stories of the tribal elders and from these they also draw on available archaeological evidence found at the site. From these they draw their own conclusions about as to why the people evacuated Chaco. The important thing here is that they include the oral traditions and stories of the tribal elders that have been passed down from generation to generation unlike mainstream researchers who tend to summarily pass off these oral stories as “superstition.”
When it comes to these ancient stories and oral traditions one thing that MUST be understood is that ancient teachers and wisdom keepers used metaphors and analogies in their stories as well as symbols. Symbolism was highly important in ancient teaching methods and what we must realize is that in ancient times MOST people hearing the stories told by the Wisdom Keepers understood what the symbols meant. Modern teachers today do not teach in that manner and that is one reason why modern scholars and common folk have a tendency to taking these oral stories literally. But, these oral stories were never intended to be taken literally and to understand them, to understand what these oral stories are telling us, we must begin to understand the symbolism used as well as the analogies and metaphors used by our Ancient Ones.
We can see this SAME PRINCIPLE closer to “home.” We see this same ancient teaching method in the Christian Bible! Consider the New Testament and especially the books pertaining to the “end of the world” such as Revelation. these passages are overflowing with symbolism, metaphor, and allegory! Stars, eagles, swords, warriors, shields, crowns, etc. These are NOT to be taken literally because they are SYMBOLS! And if we truly want to know the true meaning in these prophetic events we must begin to understand the symbolism employed. Perhaps I will address Biblical symbolism in a future post but for now this post pertains to ancient Native America symbolism, allegory, and metaphor.
For example, the Hopi speak of a past age in which the people living in that era used “flying shields” as a means of transport. The Hopi are NOT talking about giant leather shields flying through the air like “magic carpets”! Rather, they are referring to some sort of transport device used by the people of that era to get themselves around that resembled a shield. Maybe it was that the shape of this device was round. Maybe it was oblong. Maybe it was star-shaped. Not all shields are round! Maybe it was even shaped like a tube with wings resembling what we’d call today an airplane!! The Hopi use the term “flying shield” to describe this ancient transport device because a shield was the only thing they knew that they could use to describe this unknown device. Like all other people past and present they use what they knew to describe something they did not know and we do the same thing today.
Another example, every morning before dawn the village elders in Hopiland set atop their adobes facing east and await the return of some person or persons they call “Pahana.” They describe this Pahana as “the true white brother.” Does this mean the elders are awaiting some white man coming over the horizon to Hopiland? Not at all. The Pahana may be a person or it may refer to a people and it doesn’t necessarily mean that whom they are waiting for has white skin! This or these Pahana might dress in white clothing or maybe they have long white hair! Many tribes in the Americas have oral traditions speaking of a very ancient people who existed here who were light-skinned with white or blond hair. Some of these stories say that these very ancient ones always dressed in white clothing or furs. So “white” can refer to a lot of things other than white skin.
The point is that the Pahana and the flying shields are metaphors and symbols used to describe something and not to be taken literally. Ancient people understood this symbolism and metaphor so the Wisdom Keepers simply told their oral stories usually in song or chant and people listening understood what was being said because they understood the symbolism. Sadly, we today do NOT understand that symbolism or metaphor and that is where OUR problem begins when we try to understand ancient Native American culture! Instead of understanding the symbolism we simply pass of the oral stories as “superstition” because surely shields can’t carry people and fly and certainly the Hopi did not encounter any white men prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors. So we pass off these oral traditions and go about our way and that is why so very often our interpretation of Native American pre-history is so at odds with what the Native Americans themselves say about their own pre-history!
Now that I’ve said this I must point something else out to you. SOME of those oral traditions ARE in fact meant to be taken literally! Confused? You should be lol.
The Navajo speak of a time when the Earth began to bellow and groan and move. They say that in that ancient time the Earth began to shake violently in various places and in some places the Earth Mother opened her mouth wide. Of course, what the Navajo are speaking of are giant earthquakes! They say that in that time the weather became unpredictable and it was as if the weather were drunk and confused. They speak of strong winds such as their ancestors had never seen before or since and about how animals and bird began to flee southward from some unseen threat. And here’s the clincher in this tale……the Navajo say that this was the time in which the Earth turned over THREE TIMES!!
There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that at some remote point in time something catastrophic happened on this planet and it was a planet-wide event! There is geological proof or such an event and there is archaeological proof for such an event all over the world. Ice core and sea core samples prove it and although we don’t for sure know what that catastrophic event was we do know that it caused havoc globally and in many places resulted in mass extinction events! The Navajo story about the planet turning over 3 times would be such an event! This is one story from Native America I take as literal and, in fact, the Navajo elders say this story is literal and not symbolic or metaphorical.
When the Europeans began to come to the Americas and establish colonies they were rather steeped in their own ethnocentrism thinking that their own culture was the cream of the crop. Steeped in their own arrogance and egotism when they arrived in the Americas and saw the culture of Native Americans they simply concluded they were “savages” in need of “civilization” and “God almighty.” That is, these “savages” were badly in need of being Europeanized and converted to Christianity! But, the Europeans didn’t understand Native American society or culture and made very little effort to understand because they simply passed them off as “savages.” Europeans were blinded by their own arrogance to say the least! MANY Native American cultures already had civilization and already had religion. For example, Tenochtitlan, the city of the Mexica (Aztecs) was comparable to the cities of ancient Greece and Rome! The Aztecs/Mexica had a sophisticated society complete with education, commerce, government, religion, economics, etc. The Inca of South America also had a sophisticated civilization complete with a network of roads going long distances many of which are STILL USED TODAY.
My point is this. The Europeans came to the Americas for one thing and it was NOT to understand Native America culture. It was for CONQUEST! And that conquest was for gold and silver! They didn’t give a damn about understanding Native American culture or its history. When the Natives tried telling them their history via oral traditions the Europeans simply dismissed these stories as “superstition” and “fables.” And WE have been doing the same ever since, frankly!!
Ancient teachers taught using metaphor, allegory, and symbolism and the ancient people’s who heard these stories understood that metaphor, allegory, and symbolism. We today do not and, sadly, many of us make no effort to understand it either! No one knows their history and pre-history better than a people THEMSELVES. For us to assume we know more about their past is erroneous at best! We, in our theorizing, make a lot of assumptions. The Native American teachers make NONE! That’s a pretty blunt example of Occam’s Razor which postulates when 2 or more theories are presented the one with the LEAST ASSUMPTIONS should be chosen as it is likely the most correct. In this case I’d have to say that the Native American oral traditions are far more correct than what academia has given us pertaining to Native American pre-history HANDS DOWN!
We today often seek to hide from the truth because we don’t really want to know the truth. We prefer to live in our little fantasy worlds held up, of course, by our own arrogance much of the time. As I’ve said many times prior, true science follows the evidence WHEREVER it leads. When it comes to Native America, oral traditions, etc we DON’T follow the evidence wherever it leads but, instead, follow a bunch of LAUGHABLE theories than don’t even begin to hold water!! If you want to know about a people, their culture, their history, their prehistory then LISTEN to what those people tell you and UNDERSTAND what they are telling you!! If you don’t then you miss the boat completely!
Now…..I am going to partake of the Garden of the Gods and then ascend into heaven for a time………………..WTF?
Ah, symbolism and metaphor of my own making 🙂
What I’m actually telling you is that I am going to go eat and then take a short nap!! Ha! And I bet you were already thinking I was superstitious weren’t you?