Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winter Solstice

Weather: As the grays darkened late Monday afternoon, rain came down, then snow. More fell on Christmas. Yesterday and this morning temperatures fell to the lowest of the season, just over 10. It’s the time of year when the sun comes into my eyes in the house around 8 in the morning.

What’s still green: Juniper, piñon, and other evergreens, yuccas. Stems of roses; leaves on grape hyacinth, Japanese honeysuckle, vinca, oriental poppy, sweet pea, alfilerillo, dandelion; needle, June, pampas, and other grasses.

What’s gray: Winterfat, snow-in-summer; four-wing salt bushes are gray-green; buddleia, pinks and catmint leaves are blue gray.

What’s reddened: Cholla, twigs on peach, apricot and apple; purple aster leaves; sandbar willow wood is now rust brown.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe and weeping willows; some arborvitae have browned.

What’s blooming indoors: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Small birds.

Weekly update: The winter solstice is the darkest time of year; light appears for only 9 hours and 45 minutes for three days, from December 19 to 21. Humans quake as successive days grow shorter, cold rains and snows arrive, and temperatures fall. In Santa Fé, the sun sets at 4:50 from December 3 to 10.

Then, slowly, one notices the sun sets a little later. One breathes easier. Some of our oldest rituals celebrate the days following the solstice. As civilizations changed, we clung to those remnants of the past that assuaged our deepest fears.

Every year, we see Santas that hark back to Siberian shamans, trees borrowed from pagan northern Europe, Italian Holy families, and snowmen taken from a 1950 Gene Autry recording. Neighbors usually only display one, but inflatable snowmen and Santas do appear together, and reindeer often graze outside creches.

The Hopi winter solstice ceremony, Soyal, is a similar compression of history. Ko’hituwa says Bear and Parrot journeyed together from Jémez, the one riding on the head of the other. As they neared First Mesa from the east, Parrot flew ahead to arrive first.

The Bear Clan officiates at Soyal, except at Walpi where the clan died out. There the Pátki Clan substitutes. The Parrot Clan became the Kachina Clan.

Men first were hunters. Andrew Stephen was told, sparrow hawk "is a great hunter, Eagle" and an unidentified hawk "are not very good hunters." A hawk impersonation is the most important event on the fourth night, and is repeated on the eighth night at Walpi. Walpi schedules a four-day rabbit hunt when Soyal ends.

After Bear came the warriors, the Snake from southern Utah. Masi’ told Stephen a Snake youth used to wonder where a stream went. He asked his father, who also had wondered. The man hollowed a cottonwood log for the boy to use as a boat. At the end of his journey, he met Spider Woman who greeted him as her grandson. Her two grandsons are the war gods.

Jesse Walter Fewkes was told brothers in the Horn Clan married women from the Snake. The children were not accepted by other clans, and so the brothers left. The first arrived from the east with Keres language songs, the other from the south where it had united with the Flute Clan. Fewkes believes it possible the women were Shoshone.

The Oraibi Horn Clan chief bears the greatest responsibility for Soyal. He determines when the joint initiation rites begin for four societies that must end seventeen days before Soyal. To enter the officiating kiva of Soyal, a man must be a member one of the societies, Wüwütcimtû.

On the last night of Naash’naiya, the elders stay away. At dawn they see the first kachina who appears as a sleepy old man. Sixteen days later Soyal begins.

The Horn chief at Oraibi again watches the sun on the morning of the fourth day of Soyal to confirm it has moved. Once he gives a signal, rituals for the day begin and sun watching is transferred to the chief of the Gray Flute Clan.

On the final morning, around 2:45 am, the Star priest enters the main kiva carrying a long crook with a black ear of corn. He dances "backward and forward east of the fireplace." Then he leaps toward the officiating priest, trades the crook for a sun symbol, and continues dancing "north of the fireplace sideways from east to west and west to east" and twirls "the sun symbol very fast in the same directions."

Heinrich Voth, whose description is quoted, said the Star priest at Oraibi was a member of the Sun Clan in the 1890s. That group is related to the Reed Clan who played the same role at Walpi. Fewkes believed the crook represented an ancient weapon. They appear on the altars of both Soyal and the Antelope Society, once the exclusive domain of the Snake Clan.

The chief of the Reed Clan is also head of the warrior society. According to Pautiwa of the Eagle Clan at Walpi, they originally lived in an eastern pueblo. Fewkes believes they lived for a while with the Zuñi and that many of their rituals are like those of the Zuñi bow priest. Their stars are like warrior symbols Polly Schaafsma has documented on southern and eastern Río Grande rock art.

The war chief is from the Badger Clan, whose ancestors migrated from a pueblo a few miles to the north of the mesas. On the fourth night at Oraibi, he carries the symbols of the older war twin, a stone tomahawk and old shield. During the seventh song, the head of the Coyote Clan attacks him. Coyote are related to the Snake.

On the same night at Walpi, members of Wüwütcimtû from Sichomovi enter with their chief who is wearing parrot feathers on his head and a sun disk on his back. He chants for some twenty minutes before being given a shield. Four older men attack him. He staggers up the ladder and returns to Sichomovi, home of the Badger women.

During the ninth song at Oraibi, the head of the Badger Clan drinks from the medicine tray. Then each man dips a shell or stone into the water to drink. They mix the water in their mouths with clay and return to their homes where they rub the clay on all members of their families.

Crow-wing said, at Hano, the war chief made prayer sticks for the war gods, the two brothers. He’s a member of the Reed Clan, and all male members of his clan help. After they eat supper, they return with a gun or bow and arrow to sing all night. The next morning two men dressed as the two brothers go from house to house with medicine water for boys to drink and girls to rub on themselves.

Hano came after the Reconquest. Diego de Vargas forced the Tewa speakers out of the Santa Cruz valley where they had moved from Galisteo after the Revolt. They went to Jémez for a year, then wandered from place to place. Kalakwai says the Snake Clan chief asked them to come after the destruction of Awátovi to protect First Mesa against the Ute. They accepted the fourth invitation. After they defeated the Utes, they were given farm land.

Oraibi repeats the distribution of war medicine on the last day. Four days after the close of Soyal and the day after the rabbit hunt feast, members of the Reed Clan gather in their maternal home to perpetuate war rituals whose pragmatic function had been nullified by the regional peace imposed by the United States calvary.

Soyal agricultural and fertility rituals will be discussed next week. More on the annual Kachina cycle, the towns and observers, maybe found in last week’s post.

Notes: Day length data taken from Robert Thomas, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 2013, and Steve Edwards, Sunrise Sunset website.

Crow-wing. A Pueblo Indian Journal 1920-1921, edited by Elsie Clews Parsons, 1925.

Fewkes, Jesse Walter. "Tusayan Migration Traditions," Bureau of American Ethnography Report, 1901. Wiki, Wikyatiwa, and Kopeli provided information on the Snake Clan, Pütce the tales of the Horn and Flute Clans, Pautiwa of the Eagle Clan those of the parent Reed clan, and Kalakwai those of Hano.

_____. "The Winter Solstice Ceremony at Walpi," The American Anthropologist 11:65-87:1898 and 11:101-115:1898.

Schaafsma, Polly. Warrior, Shield and Star, 2000.

Stephen, Alexander. Notebooks, 1882-1894, edited as Hopi Journal, 1936, by Elsie Clews Parsons. Bear myth from Ko’hituwa of the Bear Clan in Shunopovi, 1888. Snake myth from Masi’.

Titiev, Mischa. Old Oraibi, 1944.

Voth, H. R. and George A. Dorsey. The Oraibi Soyal Ceremony, 1901.

Photographs: The spread of Christmas tree ornamentation from evergreens to other plants.

1-2. Tire Factory wraps lights around its buddleia and Russian sage, which are alternated at the front curb; night and day views.

3. Lights strung in a deciduous tree; early morning with sun coming through the glass.

4-5. Balls hanging from branches of deciduous trees, daytime.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kachina Cycle

Weather: Clear night Tuesday allowed heat to escape and cooled the lower atmosphere so the moisture passing through from the Pacific fell as snow all day Wednesday. The snow melted into the ground as it continued to fall. The wet layer froze in the night. Thursday morning, mist enveloped the mesa and all but my closest neighbors’ houses. Later the sun broke through, but mists continued to rise between the badlands and the Jémez. Since, snow has been melting down to the freeze level and pooling into mud above.

What’s still green: Juniper, piñon, and other evergreens, yuccas. Leaves on grape hyacinth, Japanese honeysuckle, vinca, oriental poppy, sweet pea, alfilerillo, dandelion; needle, June, pampas, and other grasses.

What’s gray: Winterfat, snow-in-summer; four-wing salt bushes are gray-green; buddleia, pinks and catmint leaves are blue gray.

What’s reddened: Cholla, twigs on peach, apricot and apple; purple aster leaves.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe and weeping willows; some arborvitae have browned.

What’s blooming indoors: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit tracks in snow, small birds.

Weekly update: Winter, summer, the great opposition. Santa Clara is divided between the winter people and summer ones. Traditionally, power was transferred from one to the other at this time of year. Following adoption of a tribal constitution in 1935, a governor has been elected on the first Saturday of January who serves for a year.

The Hopi still see the world in binary terms, but don’t lapse into the rigidity of modern Manichaeans who see good and evil, then reduce humans to one or the other. They also don’t fall into the legalism of some who answer crises with the mantra something wasn’t done right, we have strayed from the single pure way. Instead of reproaching themselves for error, they look for alternative ways to satisfy unmet demands of the spirits.

When one reads descriptions of ceremonies one is struck by differences. Some can be accounted for by responses to changes constantly being imposed by the dominant American culture. Thus, Jesse Walter Fewkes, Alexander Stephen and Heinrich Richert Voth saw different rituals in the 1890s than Crow-wing did in 1921 or Mischa Titiev in the early 1930s.

But even in the same year, there were variations between the twelve Hopi pueblos. Voth was at Oraibi on the Third Mesa when conservatives were beginning to withdraw from communal life. They later left to establish Hotevilla in 1906. They are the exception to the freedom from rigidity.

In the same years, Stephen was living near the federal agency at Keams Canyon and visiting Walpi on First Mesa. He noted differences between Hopi towns, and between them and the Tewa-speakers at Hano on First Mesa. He also observed Zuñi, Navajo and Havasupai who visited Walpi ceremonies. In the 1930s, Titiev described young men in Oraibi who attended ritual dances in other pueblos, much like young men everywhere visit social gatherings in nearby communities.

Some new practices were adopted, and other possibilities ignored. Stephen noted the Hopi who visited a Ghost Dance at Havasupai in 1891 were more mystified than interested in the cult then spreading among the plains bands.

The underlying view of the universe has been more durable than surface variations might suggest. The Hopi embrace the dichotomies of winter and summer, night and day, the living and the dead. Whether the Kachina rituals represent some post-drought addition or evolved from what went before, matters less than the continuities embedded in the ceremonies.

Legend says Kachinas are spirits who act as intermediaries between humans and those with power over nature. Titiev was told, they used to come as themselves but were killed or insulted. Those who remained began using the paraphernalia the Kachinas left to invoke their aid in inducing monsoon rains for their crops.

Now Kachinas arrive as clouds with the winter solstice and leave in July after the first, ritual corn crop matures. The first is Soyal, the second Niman. The only Kachina dances that occur between Niman and the next Soyal are at Hano and Zuñi where there is no ritual leave taking.

Each of the main ceremonies has both a private part held in the kiva of the clan responsible for the ceremony and a public part held in the kivas of the other clans. Voth, a Mennonite missionary born in Alexanderwohl, Ukraine, has been the only outsider ever to have been permitted to observe some of the more esoteric rituals.

Stephen had more access than many anthropologists, perhaps because he only knew a little Hopi. He communicated through Navajo, the lingua franca between the Hopi and Zuñi. If he asked about something too secret, he could be put off. He once complained, "I have been bamboozled from pillar to post all day, have received no scrap of information" about preparations for the Water Serpent in 1893.

Each ceremony is eight days long, but the public one begins the day after the private one. Both are composed of two cycles of four. The private ones begin eight days after the solstices. Many observers combine the two calendars and count nine days. There often are pre-ceremonies four days before, and post-ceremonies four days after.

Public ceremonies are held indoors from December until April, then they move outdoors. The February ritual, Powamu, focuses on beans, the others on corn. The primary rituals occur annually on a set schedule. The late spring festivals are sponsored voluntarily by individuals or kivas when and if they choose.

The late spring festivals include the Water Serpent Dance and the Puppet Doll Dance. The post-Niman ones include some best known to outsiders, those of the Flute and Snake-Antelope Societies. Women’s society rituals like Lakon follow the harvest.

Dualities permeate ceremonies. All envision different roles for men and women, with most of the official ritual life reserved for men. Gifts to young boys always include small bows and arrows. Young girls receive dolls made from cottonwood roots trimmed as Kachinas. All public performances feature both dancers who enact a ritual and clowns who secularize it.

Hopi aren’t the only ones who believe in Kachinas. It’s thought the masked dancers were known in most of the pueblos before Juan de Oñate arrived at San Juan in 1598, but they were suppressed by the Spanish. They survived in the more isolated pueblos west of the Continental Divide where Spanish friars, bureaucrats, soldiers and colonists had few material interests. The ambitious wanted to be near the center of power in Santa Fé, and most of those really wanted to be back in Mexico City.

After the reconquest, the Spanish made only token demands on the Hopi. The Hopi destroyed the pueblo of Awátovi in 1700 because it was too open to the return of the friars. They became the acknowledged curator of a tradition that had been very much in flux after the droughts of the late 1200s and again after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Notes: Fewkes and Voth have written extensively about the Hopi. Some references to books by them by them appeared in earlier posts. For clarity, I’m using common terms like kachina here, and not more correct tribal ones like katsina.

Crow-wing. A Pueblo Indian Journal 1920-1921, edited by Elsie Clews Parsons, 1925.

Stephen, Alexander. Notebooks, 1882-1894, edited as Hopi Journal, 1936, by Elsie Clews Parsons.

Titiev, Mischa. Old Oraibi, 1944.

_____. The Hopi Indians of Old Oraibi, 1972.

Photographs: The Black Mesa on the east side of the Río Grande and Tchicoma, the highest peak in the Jémez to the west (11,561'), are the two sacred landmark geological features.

1. Sun obscured by clouds near Black Mesa on Tuesday, 16 December at 3:52 pm.

2. Sky near Tchicoma in the Jémez the morning after snow fell Sunday, 14 December at 8:38 am.

3. Traditional sun and cloud symbols, Black Mesa in right fore corner, "Mother Corn" mural, design by Rose B. Simpson of Santa Clara, with collaborative support from Warren Montoya of Santa Ana Pueblo. For more details, see posting for 2 November 2014.

4. Realistic sun and clouds near Tchicoma, same mural as #3.

5. Photograph of sun and clouds near Tchicoma, 12 May 2013, 7:36 pm.

6. Rain falling on Tchicoma, 22 April 2012, 4:12 pm.

7. Mists rising from the Río Grande, 5 December 2014, 7:10 am.

8. Mists rising between the badlands and the Jémez, 6 December 2014, 6:55 am.

9. Mists rising behind the badlands, the Jémez shrouded in clouds, 14 December 7:22 am.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sweet Corn

Weather: Power outage early yesterday, rain after dark, then snow that’s accumulated on every leaf blade and horizontal stem.

What’s still green: Juniper, piñon, and other evergreens, yuccas; leaves on grape hyacinth, Japanese honeysuckle, vinca, sweet pea, golden-spur columbine, beards tongues, winecup mallow, alfilerillo; needle, June, pampas, and other grasses.

What’s gray: Winterfat, snow-in-summer; four-wing salt bushes are gray-green; buddleia, pinks and catmint leaves are blue gray.

What’s reddened: Cholla, twigs on peach, apricot and apple; purple aster leaves darkening.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe willow; leaves on fernbush yellowing; some arborvitae have browned.

What’s blooming indoors: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbit, small birds.

Weekly update: Sweetness is a recessive trait in Zea mays. Because plants do not reproduce easily when the two genes that control sugar are recessive (su), Paul Mangelsdorf believed all sweet corns were derived from the Chullpi strain in Peru and Bolivia. He noted the early archaeological remains of corn - and corn with its large cobs leaves lots of debris - showed evidence immature cobs and stalks had been chewed for their sugar.

Like Maíz de Ocho, sweet corn traveled from the southwest to the Mandan and Hidatsas of the upper Missouri, then skipped to the Iroquois. One would guess they obtained it during one of their forays in the west. It was growing along the Susquehanna in 1779 when John Sullivan and James Clinton destroyed forty Iroquois villages they believed were aligned with the British.

Richard Bagnal took some ears back to Plymouth, Massachusetts, where Plymotheus was growing it in 1822. The latter wrote, sweet corn "assimilated to the common corn," but he had discovered seed from suckers would breed true. He noted that, over time, the original crimson cob that had stained table linens disappeared.

Bagnal wasn’t the only source for native sweet corn. George Carter talked to a man named Hubbard at Harvard who said his family had been growing a yellow sweet corn since they received some from natives in the 1600s.

However, he was the most important. Following Plymotheus instructions, Gideon Smith described crossing Tuscarora and Sioux in Baltimore to produce Smith’s Early White, a large-grained white sweet corn he described in 1838. He mentioned he was able to restore the red cobs, but "got rid" of it because "it stained the lips and fingers while eating it."

Noyes Darling of New Haven, Connecticut, began experiments with an early yellow flint and a white sweet corn to produce Darling’s Early sweet corn in 1844. At the same time, Augustus Russell Pope was crossing a southern white corn with a northern early sweet corn in Somerville, Massachusetts, to produce Old Colony in 1845. Nathan Stowell of Burlington, New Jersey, crossed a northern sugary corn with Memomony, a soft field corn, to create Stowell’s Sweet Corn in 1850.

White sweet corn remained the snob’s choice until Atlee Burpee introduced Golden Bantam in his 1902 catalog as a cannable sweet corn that tasted better than existing varieties of white corn. He’d obtained his seed stock from a strain William Chambers developed in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Before he died, Chambers had been controlling the pollination of his ears and selecting the best.

Since, botanists have learned more about the genetic structure of corn to produce F1 hybrids that maintain their sweetness after they’ve been picked. John Laughnan introduced the first, Illini Chief, in 1961 from a cross between Golden Cross Bantam and Iochief. Since it was difficult to reproduce, Illinois Foundation Seeds introduced Illini Xtra Sweet in 1968. J. Hove had created a triple cross. The kernels contain so little starch they shrivel when they dry.

Carter, George F. "Sweet Corn among the Indians," Geographical Review 38:206-221:1948.

Giles, Dorothy. Singing Valleys: The Story of Corn, 1940, on Chambers. All I’ve found on Chambers is he lived in Greenfield on land he acquired in 1870 that had been a hatter’s shop on the stage road.

Larson, Debra Levey. "Supersweet Sweet Corn: 50 Years in the Making," University of Illinois press release, 7 August 2003.

Mangelsdorf, Paul C. Corn: It’s Origin, Evolution, and Improvement, 1974.

Parker, Arthur C. Iroquois Uses of Maize and Other Food Plants, 1910.

Plymotheus. Letter to the editor, New England Farmer, 7 September 1822; I haven’t see any further identification of him. Bagnal was probably the one who lived in Plymouth from 1753 to 1809.

Singleton, W. Ralph. "Noyes Darling, First Maize Breeder," The Journal of Heredity 35:265-267:1944, reprints Darling’s "Indian Corn - New Variety," Cultivator, 18 November 1845.

Smith, Gideon B. Albany Cultivator, 1838.

1. Canned Golden Sweet F1 hybrid corn, Charter Research, Twin Falls, Idaho, released in 1975.

2. Canned white sweet corn. This was the preferred type over Thanksgiving in the local grocery store.

3. Silver Queen sweet corn, developed by Harvey Mauth for Rogers Brothers Seed Company of Idaho and released in 1955.

4. Golden Bantam sweet corn.

5. Xtra Sweet F1 hybrid corn, derived from Illini Xtrasweet, bred by J. Hove and released by Illinois Foundation Seeds, 1968. Shriveled kernels.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Field Corn

Weather: Gentle rains Wednesday and Thursday, followed by morning mists rising from the river Friday and Saturday.

What’s still green: Juniper, piñon, and other evergreens, yuccas; leaves on grape hyacinth, bearded iris, Japanese honeysuckle, vinca, sweet pea, violet, golden-spur columbine, beards tongues, winecup mallow, alfilerillo; needle, June, pampas, and other grasses.

What’s gray: Winterfat, snow-in-summer; four-wing salt bushes are gray-green; buddleia, pinks and catmint leaves are blue gray.

What’s reddened: Cholla, twigs on peach and apricot; purple aster leaves darkening.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe willow; leaves on fernbush yellowing; some arborvitae have browned.

What’s blooming indoors: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Small birds.

Weekly update: Anthropologist, botanists, and politicians ask different questions about the origins of corn. The first want to know who did it, where they lived, and when. Botanists insist on understanding the whats and hows, the probabilities of hybridization. Nationalists only ask that their people be given credit as the first; their offspring want the royalties.

The rest of us have simpler questions. How do I grow it? When do I eat? From that perspective, the many pueblo varieties of corn fall into two types: flour and sweet.

The Hopi planted sweet corn over four days during the waxing moon of April in secluded niches and harvested it in July. Much was roasted and eaten when it was picked. Since it’s prone to mold, the remaining kernels were removed and dried for use as a sweetener.

Dietary corn was planted in fields from mid-May to late June. Crow-wing indicated in 1920 each clan was assigned a week to plant, but individuals could plant when they chose. The four-day sowings staggered tasseling dates so neighboring patches of wind-born pollen could not fertilize each other. Unlike sweet corn, it was gathered after it dried in September and October. The ears were stored and the kernels removed when needed for grinding or boiling.

This flint corn derived from one of the primary races of maize that developed in Mexico. Chapalote came from intermediate altitudes of Sonora and Chihuahua. This is the form found in the Tehuacán valley and the one found in Bat Cave in the Mogollon Mountains of Catron County from around 2000 bc. The shell or pericarp was brown, and could be popped on the cob.

The corn found in the strata of Bat Cave underwent a major change around 500 bc when varieties appeared that had been crossed with teosinte, the closest relative of maize. Since teosinte grows around corn fields in México, it’s assumed the hybrids came from there. One distinguishing feature is the pericarp may come in many colors. Another is that teosinte may introduce mutations that become permanent.

Maíz de Ocho appeared around 700 in western México. The eight-row variety spread into the southwest, then north to Colorado and east along the Arkansas River. From there the variety moved into lower elevations following cold soils and short growing seasons north up the Missouri river after the year 1000. From there the corn moved east along the southern Great Lakes to the Iroquois and New England. The kernels were easier to grind, the yields higher than their predecessors, and the plants could handle both drought and cold.

In 1851, Lewis Henry Morgan said the Iroquois planted a white flint corn that ripened first. They soaked it in wood ash lye for hominy. The second to ripen was a soft red they picked green and charred over pits to dry. Last to ripen was the white they used for flour.

They stripped some ears and braided the still attached husks into clusters that could be hung to dry and store. Other corn, including the charred red, was buried in grass-lined pits. Neither Morgan nor Arthur Parker gave an explanation. Centuries earlier, Jesuits had reported their bark-roofed long houses were flammable. Buried corn would survive catastrophe.

The eight-rowed corn became the ancestor of modern field corn. In the middle 1840s, near Peoria, Illinois, Robert Reid planted some reddish corn he’d obtained from Gordon Hopkins before he moved west from Brown County, Ohio, on the Ohio river east of Cincinnati. Hopkins’ family says it had been in their family since 1765 when men migrated into the Shenandoah valley from Baltimore.

The gourd-seed variety only grows well from Virginia south. When it failed to germinate in the prairie environment, Reid filled the spaces in his field with leftover yellow seed he got from neighbors. The New England corn crossed the southern variety. His son, James, worked to improve it by selecting out the red. Reid’s Yellow Dent became famous when it won first prize at Chicago World’s Fair of 1893.

Feed corns are softer than southwestern flints, whose kernels are surrounded by hard starch layers. In field corn the hard starch migrates to the sides, leaving a softer starch in the center that shrinks to produce the identifying top dent. One of its advantages was animals could chew it without having it ground. It also was more prone to diseases and predators. Breeders had to reintroduce resistence to store and export it.

Crow-wing. A Pueblo Indian Journal 1920-1921, edited by Elsie Clews Parsons, 1925.

Galinat, W. C. and J. H. Gunnerson. "Spread of Eight-Rowed Maize from the Prehistoric Southwest," Harvard University Botanical Museum Leaflets 20:117-160:1963.

Giles, Dorothy. Singing Valleys: The Story of Corn, 1940, on Reid.

Jesuits. The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, 1898.

Mangelsdorf, Paul C. Corn: It’s Origin, Evolution, and Improvement, 1974.

Morgan, Lewis Henry. League of the Ho-de’-no-sau-nee or Iroquois, 1851.

Parker, Arthur C. Iroquois Uses of Maize and Other Food Plants, 1910.

Stephen, Alexander. Notebooks, 1882-1894, edited as Hopi Journal, 1936, by Elsie Clews Parsons, on Hopi planting times.

Wallace, Henry A. and William L. Brown. Corn and Its Early Fathers, 1988 revised edition, on Reid.

Whiting, Alfred F. Ethnobotany of the Hopi, 1939.

1. Gila Pima A’al Hu:ñ flint corn, Gila River Reservation, Arizona, Native Seeds Search, Tucson. The low, hot lands of the Pima and Papago in southern and central Arizona were a separate diffusion route for maize into the southwest. Rounded top.

2. Río Grande Blue flour corn, Native Seeds Search; from a mix of blue corn varieties from Río Grande pueblos. Rounded top.

3. Reid’s Yellow Dent corn. The red survives in streaks. Depression in top.

4. Southern corns have a different lineage and probably moved north along the lowland coast of México through areas like Tramaulipas to the southern Mississippi valley. Hickory King, southern dent corn for hominy; grown in 1880 by A. O. King of Hickory, Virginia, from an ear he received from friend; marketed by Burpee in 1885 as having a large grain and small cob. Depression in top.

5. McCormack’s Blue Giant dent corn, developed by Jeff McCormack from Hickory King and an unknown blue dent; released in 1994 by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Mineral, Virginia. Depression in top.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pueblo Corn

Weather: A little snow on Monday, but warm afternoons melted it in most places.

What’s still green: Juniper, arborvitae, piñon, and other evergreens, yuccas; leaves on bearded iris, honeysuckle, vinca, sweet pea, violet, golden-spur columbine, beards tongues, winecup mallow, alfilerillo, purple aster; needle, June, pampas, and other grasses.

What’s gray: Winterfat, snow-in-summer; four-wing salt bushes are gray-green; buddleia, pinks and catmint leaves are blue gray.

What’s reddened: Cholla, twigs on peach and apricot.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe willow; leaves on fernbush and bouncing Bess yellowing.

What’s blooming indoors: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Small birds.

Weekly update: The pueblos grow a number of types of corn. The Hopi had terms for twenty-two in 1935. The diversity was probably more a defense against an erratic climate than a deliberate attempt to appease the cloud spirts with the six sacred colors.

While each family treated its seed as an heirloom to be guarded, some were open to new varieties. Memories of the drought of 1864 lingered. Then famine forced many to flee to other pueblos. When rains returned, so did the Hopi, with borrowed seed corn. They were still using a white variety that brought back from the Río Grande area when Alfred Whiting visited them.

He said they grew one variety "obtained from the Havasupai at the San Diego exposition in 1915." As mentioned in the post two weeks ago, the Hopi had long traded with the Arizona tribe.

In the depression years, softer corns were replacing the harder ones like flint, because they were easier to grind. The harder ones had been preferred when corn weevils threatened the grain supply. Changes in storage technology made women’s lives easier.

White corns were the Hopi dietary mainstay, but blues were nearly as important, especially for piki. A soft blue type, sakwa’pu, was associated with the southwest.

Their yellow corn was a short season variety that had a strong flavor. Whiting said, it tended to be used for mush, and was associated with the northwest.

Much of sweet corn crop was baked in the fall and eaten. The remainder was strung to dry in the sun. It represented the nadir.

A purple corn, koko’ma, wasn’t eaten. Instead, it was used to dye baskets and fibers, and was associated with the zenith.

Hopi tried to keep their strains pure by not planting obviously mixed kernels. The only seed they considered disposable was on the mixed ears they ate before they matured. They also distributed it during the spring ceremonies as Kachina corn, katci'nqa'’3. [3 represents a vowel sound like that found in her, girl and turn.]

Whiting says red corn wasn’t grown as a species, but appeared in fields of white corn. It was associated with the southwest.

Other pueblos shared the same desire to have six colors of corn, but differed in their attitudes toward obtaining seed from other pueblos. Those closest to the powers of Santa Fé before the Pueblo Revolt of 1688 were conservative. Tesuque punished those who imported seed. The Tewa speakers at Hano, who had left Galisteo, suspected the intent of those who would offer them seed. The older men at San Ildefonso knew they could get seed from other pueblos, but refused. Barbara Freire-Marreco was told, "they want to keep the very corn of the pueblo, because the corn is the same as the people."

Santa Clara considered itself more liberal in 1912. Freire-Marreco said it needed six colors for ceremonies, but mainly grew blue and white. Its black had a "dusty, gray-back surface." It did not grow yellow, but obtained it from Tesuque. One man had gotten a dark red seed mottled with black from Jémez in 1908. Another got his red corn from Taos and was considering trying a Taos white. He reasoned corn that grew in a colder area would ripen sooner in the valley.

It should be noted, modern transportation and communication were having an influence. Improved roads made it easier to visit other pueblos.  The availability of wheat in stores made it easier to be fussy about sources of corn. Families no longer were forced to choose between cultural values and starvation.

Freire-Marreco, Barbara, William Wilfred Robbins, and John Peabody Harrington. Ethnobotany of the Tewa Indians, 1916; includes the other pueblos mentioned.

Whiting, Alfred F. Ethnobotany of the Hopi, 1939.

Photographs: Seeds from Native Seeds Search of Tucson and Seed Savers Exchange of Decorah, Iowa

1. Seneca Red Stalker, Seed Savers; it’s the stalks and husks that are red
2. San Felipe Blue, Native Seeds
3. Nambé White, Native Seeds
4. Navajo Yellow, Native Seeds, Gamerco, New Mexico
5. Navajo Copper, Native Seeds, New Mexico
6. Aztec Black, Seed Savers, introduced by James J. H. Gregory in 1864

7. San Domingo Posole, Native Seeds

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Growing Corn

Weather: Snow last Sunday was so fine, it didn’t accumulate in masses. Still it lingered in the shadows for several days, protected by afternoon temperatures that didn’t reach 32 degrees, then by high clouds.

Mornings are now so cloudless the effects of the sun are not mitigated and dawn temperatures average 20 degrees. Cold probably is killing any tender perennials like snapdragons that might have wintered over.

What’s still green: Juniper, arborvitae, piñon, other evergreens, yuccas; leaves on bearded iris, vinca, sweet pea, violet, golden-spur columbine, beards tongues, hollyhock, winecup mallow, alfilerillo, purple aster; needle, June and other grasses.

What’s gray: Four-wing salt bushes, winterfat, snow-in-summer; buddleia and catmint leaves blue gray.

What’s reddened: Cholla, young twigs on peach and apricot; new buds visible on peach.

What’s yellowed: Young stems on globe willow; leaves on fernbush and bouncing Bess yellowing.

What’s blooming indoors: Sun comes in low this time of year for blooming zonal geraniums on inside porch that faces southeast.

Animal sightings: Hopefully cold temperatures are killing off the insects and vermin that survived last winter. There were so many grasshoppers and aphids this past summer from the previous warm winter, it would be a disaster next summer if everything survived.

Weekly update: Our image of Native American farming methods was set by people living in New England. Every year around Thanksgiving the same information is reiterated for a new generation. Darrett Rutman recapitulates:

"They set grains of seed corn into the center of each circle...Here and there along the coast the women fertilized the corn by setting a small herringlike fish, the alewife, with the seed...As the first corn shoots broke the surface a few weeks after planting, the women descended on the fields again, carefully planting three of four bean seeds around the young corn. Corn and beans grew together, the beans climbing on the cornstalks. Sometimes squash and pumpkin seeds were planted in the hills, their vines trailing across the uncultivated land between."

Today, Native Seed, a seed collective in Tucson, tells local bean growers to "plant with corn & squash."

When people actually looked at farmers in the Southwest in the late nineteenth century, that’s not what they were doing. For one thing, among the Hopi, cultivation is divided by gender. For another, First Mesa is at 5700' with annual precipitation averaging 8" to 12" a year. Plymouth Plantation lies on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s at 34' with more than 52" of precipitation a year. It’s ten degrees hotter in the summer in Arizona than in Massachusetts.

The Hopi are matrilocal, which means the women controlled the homes and the springs that irrigated small gardens. Men had jurisdiction over clan kivas and agricultural fields away from the village. Men planted part of the corn crop in the main washes below the mesas that would get flood water during summer monsoons. They grew the other under cliffs where water seeped down. Two locations with two water sources provided security against erratic weather.

Alfred Whiting says men at Oraibi leaned the modern irrigation techniques they used at Moenkopi from the Mormons of Tuba City. They founded the village in a wash as a summer camp in 1870 about 40 miles from Third Mesa. The Mormons arrived in 1875.

Beans might have been grown in lines between the corn rows, but Whiting said, more often men planted them on mesa tops in 1935. They also planted peach orchards in the dunes under the cliffs.

Women had small gardens they watered by hand from their springs. They grew squash, gourds, musk melons and introduced plants like chili, onions, and tomatoes. The dye plants, sunflowers and red amaranth, usually grew in the women’s plots, but sometimes could be found in a corner of a bean field. Other useful wild plants like Rocky Mountain bee weed, devil’s claw and wild potato were left where they volunteered in corn fields.

The method for planting corn was the same in both the Northeast and Southwest. Instead of the long, continuous rows of Midwestern farmers, small circles were cleared about six feet a part.

Walter Hough indicated the Hopi used a planting stick with a wedge point to dig holes where they dropped seed: 6 to 12 kernels in a good field, more in a bad. Whiting added, the foot-deep holes were filled during the season as the plants grew.

No mention has been made of fertilizer in the Southwest. In February they cleared brush and releveled fields.. In April, Alexander Stephen noted they planted rabbit bush. Ericameria nauseosus grows about 6' tall. The shrub blocked winds that uncovered seeds that were planted more shallowly than corn. Elsie Clews Parsons said the men of Oraibi used greasewood fences around their watermelon patches.

The other trait shared between the Northeast and Southwest is the chronological history of crops. Squash was domesticated first, then corn was introduced. Beans came later. In the Northeast, the three merged. Roger Williams recorded the Narragansett of Rhode Island believed in "Kautantowwit. The great south-west god, to whose house all souls go, and from whom came their corn and beans."

In the Southwest, where the climate was different, the crops were kept separate. Corn and beans each had its own set of ceremonies within the annual ritual agricultural cycle.

Hough, Walter. "The Hopi Indian Collection in the United States National Museum," U. S. National Museum Proceedings 54:235-296:1918.

Native Seed/SEARCH. "Planting and Harvesting in the Low Desert," double-sided, single-page guide included with orders.

Parsons, Elsie Clews. Hopi and Zuñi Ceremonialism, 1933.

Rutman, Darrett B. Husbandmen of Plymouth, 1967.

Stephen, Alexander. Notebooks, 1882-1894, edited as Hopi Journal, 1936, by Elsie Clews Parsons.

Whiting, Alfred F. Ethnobotany of the Hopi, 1939.

Williams, Roger. In James D. Knowles, Memoirs of Roger Williams, The Founder Of The State Of Rhode-Island, 1834.

Photographs: Different ways sweet corn is grown in the immediate area. For more on nostalgic corn planting, see post for 23 November 2008.

1. Corn possibly grown for farmer’s market; field is planted every few years, with ditch at the back; 9 July 2010.

2. Corn possibly grown for market; field was planted in cantaloups a few years before; ditch is at the back and has lateral on one side; 12 July 2012.

3. Corn grown in a few rows at the back of the house land, 17 August 2012; variations in height reflect differences in flow of water from ditch in back.

4. Corn grown in a few rows at the side of the house land, 13 September 2013.

5. Corn grown along side the house land, ditch in front, 22 October 2014.

6. Corn grown in widely spaced rows in field separated from house land, ditch in front; 12 July 2012.

7. Corn growing in raised bed at end of trailer; earlier annual four o’clocks were blooming at the base; I’m not sure if this was planted this year, or reseeded last summer; 15 October 2014.

8. Corn grown in opening in a wood lot, 22 November 2011; I think it’s planted every few years and comes back on its own in the intervening seasons.

9. In comparison, field corn grown as commercial crop in Michigan, summer of 1982. With modern seeds and picking machines, corn was planted more densely than it was when I was a child.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Recent Hopi Pigements II

Weather: Very cold Thursday morning, then rain yesterday in the night and early this morning; later the temperature dropped and snow fell.

What’s blooming: Tansy, purple asters; globe willows turning yellow; next year’s buds visible on peach.

Animal sightings: Mice trying to get into house; chickadees.

Weekly update: Alexander Stephen was told the yellow ochre the Hopi used for prayer sticks and their bodies in the 1890s came from the base of a pool under a spring in Grand Canyon near the salt deposits. A trip to the salt lands was part of male initiation activities. The initiated also made other trips west when necessary.

Men sometimes mixed the yellow pigment with water that had boiled squash.

Women used rabbit bush flowers for yellow for their baskets. Stephen saw Ericameria nauseosa used by men associated with one kiva. They boiled the flowers with fibrous alunogen or sandy gypsum. Both minerals were found on mesa cliffs in the region; the first is found near coal deposits.

Black could come from several sources, but Stephen observed, coal, charcoal, soot and corn smut were not interchangeable. They were "used separately for different occasions." To get black for weaving, men mixed seeds from sunflower plants they cultivated with roasted piñon gum and boiled sumac twigs.

For baskets, Whiting says women used Helianthus petiolaris seeds and purple corn for deep purples, and darkened them with piñon gum. Stephen saw men use purple corn with the greasy, salty clay used to cook potatoes. They strained the dyed water through sumac berries. Black and purple could both be used to represent Above.

Red was the most variable, as it had been in the earlier murals at Awátovi. As mentioned in the post for 28 June 2009 on Maltese Cross, red fades without the right alloy or mordant. It took centuries for European glass makers to produce a decent red.

Whiting said there was no satisfactory, natural source for basketry. At best, a pink could be produced from a winged pigweed, Cycloloma atriplicifolium. Men sometimes used white corn meal with an aniline dye on the body of a Kachina dancer.

Hematite still was used, usually mixed with white corn meal or bean meal. Stephen reported some came from Shushtuban Tukwi, a mountain some 15 to 20 miles southwest of Walpi. They also took some pigment from the ruins of Kautaktipu in the foothills of the western valley. He observed there was "a great deal of iron ochre and selenite" gypsum mixed in the shale near the coal deposits.

Stephen was told red was the color of warriors. Its ritual import no doubt dated back before the drought of the late 1200s, when ceramics were black, white and red. In addition to the usual red ochres, the Hopi had two special reds.

One was a glistening, red, sky stone applied to prayer sticks at the winter solstice in 1892. Stephen thought the shiny hematite might have had a meteoric origin, but was told it came from a mining town north of San Carlos, which, by road today, lies 244 miles away in Apache territory to the south. The Captain Jack claim contains specularite and magnetite in limestone with evidence of past mining activity.

The other was vermillion, which both women and young men used to adorn themselves. It had attracted the interest of the Spanish, who thought it was cinnabar. The mercuric sulphide was critical to processing silver ore. They asked so many questions, Stephen was told the pigment came to be called Spanish red, Kas’til shü’ta. Natives no longer gave details about it.

When Americans penetrated the west after the discovery of silver in Colorado, in 1864, they too searched for mercury. Jacob Vernon Hamblin was a Mormon who settled in Kanab, Utah, in 1869. From there, he and his son, Lyman, explored the Colorado River and proselytized the Navajo.

Lyman was given a sample of the red pigment by the Pai Utes, who had received it from the Shivwits Utes who lived north of the Canyon. He told an aide to John Wesley Powell, who was exploring the area in the 1870s. It looked so much like cinnabar, Frederick Dellenbaugh tracked the source to a cave in Grand Canyon "in a side gulch about three thousand feet down the side of the Canyon, and two thousand feet above the river."

The Hopi reservation was created in 1882, that of the Havasupai in Grand Canyon in 1880. The new boundaries and the privatization of land between, no doubt, altered the ways the Hopi could travel outside their prescribed area. That change, in turn, probably was altering relationships between the two groups in the 1890s.

At the time Stephen was in Arizona, the Hopi were trading with the Havasupai. They traveled west to Cataract in the fall for buckskins. Stephen Hirst says, the Havasupai came east in February to exchange "baskets, buckskins, red paint, mescal, corn, salt, and shells" for "jewelry, blankets, pottery and horses." Their red was believed to have magical properties and was traded far to the east.

The vermillion-colored pigment probably came from a cave in Diamond Creek Canyon. George Billingsley noted, when that red claystone was mixed with deer tallow, it had protective properties against sunburn. An assay ordered by Dellenbaugh showed it was an "iron ochre," but the "greasiest, most penetrating stuff I ever saw."

White was taken for granted. Kaolin or white clay mixed with sand or gypsum was used on men’s bodies and as an undercoating on wood, as it has been centuries before on polychrome pottery. It wasn’t mentioned for weaving or basketry. Even if bleaching were possible, light colors weren’t practical.

The Hopi use of color does recognize the difference between the sacred and the profane, as it recognizes the differences between ceremonial blue and the colors found in nature.

Billingsley, George H. "Mining Activity in the Grand Canyon Area, Arizona," in D. P. Elston, G. H. Billingsley, and R. A. Young, Geology of Grand Canyon, Northern Arizona (With Colorado River Guides): Lee Ferry to Pierce Ferry, Arizona, 1989.

Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel. "Indian Red Paint," Masterkey 7:85-87:May 1933; quoted with additional comments in Watson Smith, Kiva Mural Decorations at Awatovi and Kawaika-a, 1952.

Hirst, Stephen. I Am the Grand Canyon: The Story of the Havasupai People, 2006.

Peterson, Jocelyn A. and Mark H. Hibpshman. Status of Mineral Resource Information for the San Carlos Indian Reservation, Arizona, 1981.

Stephen, Alexander. Notebooks, 1882-1894, edited as Hopi Journal, 1936, by Elsie Clews Parsons.

Whiting, Alfred F. Ethnobotany of the Hopi (1939).

Photographs: Local uses of pigments on Española shop signs painted directly on stucco; buildings with other surfaces have applied signs.

1. Boomerang thrift shop, Riverside Drive, Anna Dillane, owner; wisteria vine climbs the corner of the building and spreads along the roof; sign with store name is attached to the wall.

2. Same as #1; at the base of the wall, flamingos wander in the grass.

3. Hollywood Theater, Riverside Drive; mural dramatizing the business covers the front and entrance side of a converted house.

4. Los Compadres car wash, Chama-Los Alamos Highway. Paintings of a car being washed were on the west (street) and north sides; the name was painted on the south. After the business closed this summer, the walls were painted white.

5. Jessica’s Fashions, Riverside Drive, Andres Gallegos, contact. Someone added details to this sign and painted another on the front; the store was open a week ago Friday. Everything had been painted over last Sunday morning when I went to take a more recent picture.

6. Another Man’s Treasure thrift shop, Cook’s Bridge Road, Amanda Sena, owner. If a building is not actively being used, the paintings of a closed business may remain. This had been a day care center. When the current thrift shop opened, the owner painted her sign over the previous name and left the rest of the day care pictures. Most are from Winnie the Pooh; one is of Goofy.

7. The Water Store, Riverside Drive, Dyna Padilla, owner; small sign signifying the nature of the products sold.

8. Baila Conmigo dance studio, Chama-Los Alamos Highway, Juana Maria Duarte Ontiveros, instructor; detail with name exploits hopes.

9. Saints and Sinners bar and package liquor store, Riverside Drive, Dennis Salazar, owner; detail with name amplifies customer’s self image.

10. The Original Chimayo Trading Post, Riverside Drive, Leo Trujillo, owner; detail with name is Native sun symbol.

11. Pegasus Auto Sales, Riverside Drive. The simplest painted sign is a name with no adornments.

12. Lovin’ Oven doughnut shop, Riverside Drive, Alexandra Stone, contact. Where I grew up in Michigan in the 1950s, merchants did not paint the bricks of their stores. Instead they painted their windows using water-based paints. This one shows a pueblo bake-oven and a pueblo-style house frosted with snow.