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Posts Tagged ‘Tewa’

First Mesa, Arizona

Posted by graywacke on January 26, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2078; A Landing A Day blog post number 506.

Dan –  This is actually getting serious.  Yet another OSer (six of my last seven landings), and my Score is back up to 150!  This is my 10th landing since originally breaking the 150 barrier.  Haven’t a clue what I’m talking about?  Click HERE.

 Anyway, I landed in . . . AZ; 84/77; 4/10; 150.0.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows just two towns, Keams Canyon and Polacca:


You’re probably a little surprised as to why the post is entitled “First Mesa.”  Well, let me start with a Google Earth (GE) shot showing the same area as the above landing map.


Note that instead of Polacca, it says “First Mesa.”  First Mesa is a topographic ridge that rises dramatically above the surrounding terrain.  But to Wiki, First Mesa refers to villages up on the Mesa:

 First Mesa (Hopi: Wàlpi) includes three villages on the Hopi Reservation. As of the 2000 census, the population was 1,124, spread among three Hopi and Arizona Tewa villages atop the mesa:

  • Hano (or Tewa)
  • Sitsomovi (or Sichomovi), and
  • Waalpi (or Walpi).

Here’s a closer-in GE shot that shows the three villages atop the mesa.  (I think GE is wrong; it calls the town of Polacca “First Mesa.”)


Here’s an end-on view of the Mesa (looking northeast), showing the three villages:


Here comes a first for A Landing A Day:   I produced a crude “fly-over” You Tube video of the First Mesa (over the village of Hano), using Google Earth.  Here ‘tis:


Pretty cool eh?  By the way, the blue dot is the little “hand” on GE that grabs the photo and pulls it forward.  Why it’s a blue dot instead of the little hand, I have no clue.  Anyway, now that I’ve downloaded a video screen capture app and know how to do this, this may become a regular feature for future posts. . . 

More about the villages of First Mesa later.  But I need to circle back to my landing.  Here’s my close-in GE shot, which shows that I landed at the head of a shallow valley:


Backing up a little, you can see that I landed about two miles from the nearest road, which happens to have StreetView coverage (thus the blue line and the little orange dude):


So, here’s my StreetView shot from the orange dude’s perspective:


Wow:  Snow in the desert!  The gap in the rocks to the right is my landing valley . . .

 I was able to follow this little tributary downstream to another little tributary, and then to another, all heading southwest.  Eventually, 60 miles later, I found the discharge point into the Little Colorado River (17th hit); on to the Big Colorado River (165th hit; third on my list after the Mississippi & the Missouri).

 Here’s a GE shot showing the miles of desert my runoff would have to cross in order to reach the Little Colorado (which, trust me, never happens).


A road with StreetView coverage crosses the dry stream bed (that would hypothetically carry my run off) about four miles upstream from the Little Colorado.  Here’s the shot from the bridge looking upstream:


It’s time to get back to First Mesa.  Amazing place.  I’ll start with a GE Panoramio shot (by Tim Thomas), looking northeast towards First Mesa (on the left).  Although you can’t see it, the Village of Walpi is perched on top of the mesa:

 pano tim Thomas looking n, 1st mesa on the left

While I didn’t read anything about the geologic particulars of First Mesa, I happen to know that mesas in general are elevated erosional remnants (underlain by flat-lying bedrock), protected and maintained by a caprock that is particularly resistant to erosion (like sandstone).

 Here’s a broad GE shot of First Mesa:


The populated portion with the three villages is off to the far left.  The mesa has a topographic dip that separates the inhabited portion from a much larger, broader portion of the mesa.

 I’m going to zoom in to near the dip; the inhabited portion in the upper left corner:


The purpose of this photo is to show you the caprock that is resistant to erosion and is the raison d’etre of the mesa.  Not too obvious, eh?

 So, I found a very good write-up about the history and culture of First Mesa from the ExperienceHopi website.  I’ve selected some excerpts from the website:

First Mesa is the home of historic Walpi Village, continuously inhabited for more than 1100 years.  Walpi stands above the valley at 300 feet, surrounded by awesome vistas of the sky and distant horizons. Walpi is the most inspiring places in Arizona. Sharing First Mesa with Walpi are the villages of Sichomovi and Tewa (Hano), both established in the late 1600s.

On a guided walking tour (provided by a local tourism program) you will learn about the history of the first community “founded” at First Mesa, Walpi Village, which dates back to about 900 A.D., long before the first non-Natives landed on the shores of what is now North America.

In 1540, the Spaniard Pedro de Tovar made contact with the Hopi in his search for the seven cities of gold.  An estimated 2,000 people occupied Walpi at this time.  The Spanish established missions in the Hopi Villages and began conversion to the foreign Christianity.  In 1680, the Pueblo people of present-day southwestern United States revolted and drove the missionaries from their homelands.  For centuries thereafter, missions were not reestablished among the Hopi.

After the revolt of 1680, two other villages were established on First Mesa: Sichomovi and Hano (Tewa).  Sichomovi village was settled by people of Walpi. Hano was originally settled by a group known as the Hano people. When they abandoned the site of Hano, it was resettled by the Tewa who came from present-day New Mexico.

Amazingly, the people living atop this small mesa still retain separate languages after 600 years.

The village of Walpi is a living village where the homes are passed down through matrilineal clan lineage. Just as it has been over the centuries, there is no electricity or running water in the old village of Walpi.

First Mesa is known for the finest polychrome pottery and kachina doll carvings.

Here’s a picture of Hopi First Mesa polychrome pottery, circa 1350-1625 (from the U of Arizona museum):


From Wiki, this about Kachinas:

Kachinas are spirits or personifications of things in the real world.  A kachina can represent anything in the natural world from a revered ancestor to  a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. There are more than 400 different kachinas in Hopi and Pueblo culture. The local pantheon of kachinas varies in each pueblo community; there may be kachinas for the sun, stars, thunderstorms, wind, corn, insects, and many other concepts.

Kachinas are understood as having humanlike relationships; they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and may marry and have children. Although not worshipped, each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use their particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example. One observer has written:

“The central theme of the kachina [religion] is the presence of life in all objects that fill the universe. Everything has an essence or a life force, and humans must interact with these or fail to survive.”

Here are drawings of Kachina dolls, from an 1894 anothropology text book (from Wiki):


Here’s a picture of kachina dolls in the Heard Museum in Phoenix (also from Wiki):


Time for some pictures, eh?  I’ll start with a shot from 1920:

 walpi in 1920

This shot (also 1920) shows the “entrance” to the village, coming down the mesa from the north:

 baslerWalpi_arizona 1920

The World Monuments Fund website has a series of pictures of Walpi.  I’ll start with a modern shot of the entrance, taken from about the same place as the 1920 photo above:

 USA - wallpi

I’m going to close with a bunch of great shots of Walpi village, all from the World Monuments Fund website:




That’ll do it.



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