Why the Elders Talk, a Guest Post by Thomas O. Mills

By Thomas O. Mills, May 2012
Author of:  The Book of Truth

You have to ask yourself why any Native American Elder would want to talk to us. What good have we ever done for him? What is this deep-seated understanding that he has inside that makes him want to share his knowledge with the people who have taken all the best from him and the land he loves?

His Ancestors had free, clean water in every stream, free housing for every family, free education for every child, free food for every meal, and no fences, bills, pollution, taxes, boundaries, countries, or money. John Lennon dreamed about this kind of life; he wrote a song called Imagine, and many of my elderly Hopi friends still imagine that the world could be this way. They miss, very badly, those old days of peace and tranquility, but that is not the reason the Elders talk.

The Elders see what drugs and alcohol have done to their sons, daughters, and grandchildren. They know that the food we eat, the way we treat our livestock, oceans, air, insects, and fields is not correct and causes many health problems for everyone. They know that government-controlled tribal councils were created to provide a link between the government and the Native Tribes, to steal their culture, land, coal, oil, and water, and then claim that the tribe wanted it that way. They know all these things, but that is not the reason why the Elders talk.

The Elders know that today is our day of plenty. Grocery stores are full of food from all around the world, plenty of electricity and natural gas to heat and cool our homes and business, plenty of land to buy and sell, and plenty of credit to do all of these things, but that is not the reason why the Elders talk.

The Elders were told that a majority of all the people, from all four races, will never understand what they are trying to communicate. They are looking for just a handful of listeners, to hear and help them, but for some reason the majority of the people they talk to have an obstruction in their ears and the words of the Elders do not enter their brains; they just bounce around the room like the sound of a beating drum.

They use hand gestures, lines in the sand, carvings on rocks, paintings, and ceremonies to convey their message but very few pay any attention to them nowadays. Non-Indians try to put words in the Elders mouths and young people of their own tribe even make fun of the elders and call them names, laugh, and imitate their gestures, after they go through the white man’s public school system. But still the Elders talk.

The Elders I knew learned from their elders the prophecies passed down from their elders, all the way back to the Guardian Spirit (Kachina) known as Massaw’u, who gave the Hopi permission to occupy this land after a great flood. He told them what signs to look for in the future to tell when this world event might happen again. Massaw’u was the original prophet. The Elders alive today do not clam to be prophets or try to foretell things as if by some divine inspiration. They are just repeating what was told to them in the past by their fathers and grandfathers exactly the way it was told to them.

Massaw’u instructed the Hopi to repeat his stories to future generations and he also told them that it would be a very hard job for them to accomplish, as very few people would listen to his prophecies in times of plenty. This was their job, and that is why the Elders talk to us today. They do not claim to be prophets, they do not claim to be psychic or have any magical powers. We put those titles on them because they talk about future events and those events are coming true today, just the way Massaw’u told them they would.

A Mayan Tablet

A group of traditional Hopi Elders decided in 1948 that Massaw’u’s message was not being heard fast enough. They elected four members to represent the tribe, giving each a sacred prayer feather in the hope that their words would be taken seriously. This was a huge step for these peaceful people as no tribe member wanted to be singled out by using his own name in public. This was completely contrary to the Hopi way of life, living modestly in all ways at all times. After this point, many books were written with the help of the Elders: The Hopi Indians, 1956; Red Man, White Man, 1958; The Book of the Hopi, 1963; Truth of a Hopi, 1967; Me and Mine, 1969; The Hopi People, 1971; and Pages From Hopi History, 1974. Continue reading