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Hopi Social Order (5-8)

5. Phratries

Blocks of clans taken together constitute unnamed units of Hopi society that analysts have referred to by the generic anthropological technical term "phratry" ("group of clans"). [Note] Each Hopi phratry has a primary clan traditionally associated with its origins, and other clans are linked to it as slightly subordinate units, all in a potentially evolving relationship to each other. The clans making up a phratry have traditions about how each clan was admitted to it through specific negotiations and about the commitments the clan took on for ceremonial or other services to the rest of the phratry.

Unlike a clan, a Hopi phratry does not have a separate name — it usually takes an ad-hoc name in any given conversation based on one or more of the clans locally making it up, and its members are not considered to be descended from a common ancestor. Instead it is thought of as an alliance of several clans that was forged sometime back in history. It has no defined economic, ritual, or political functions, but it "does serve to tie clan units together into larger structures and furnishes a mechanism for dealing with clan extinction, since 'partner' clans normally take over the ceremonial obligations" of their extinct phratry partners (Eggan 1950: 62). [Note] Early XXth-century students of Hopi society found that details of the phratry-clan relationship seemed to vary from case to case — and Hopi informants rarely seemed to agree with each other about it — so that exploration of this issue very much complicated the study of Hopi society for several decades. The important point for present purposes is that phratries represent traditional, non-kinship-based alliances of kinship-based clans. It is the clans which hold both ritual and economic power, but phratry loyalties integrate these clans with each other into groupings with an historical charter to cooperate.

Although members of the same phratry are not necessarily also members of the same clan, the intimacy associated with co-membership in a phratry inspires a sense that marriage is inappropriate among members of the same phratry even if they come from different clans. Phratries are thus exogamous (or are supposed to be), and any household therefore not only contains people from different lineages and different clans, but from different phratries. Households and phratries thus cross-cut each other.

6. Division of Labor by Sex

Traditionally men did the farming, although the whole family would be involved in harvesting. A man learned to do this by helping his father farm the land assigned to his mother by her clan through her lineage head. When he married, he began to farm the land assigned to his wife.

Hopi crops included many varieties each of corn, beans, and squash. The first corn crop could be planted in April and be harvested in July. The second corn crop was planted in May, together with beans and squash. Other crops included tobacco and cotton. Harvest seasons for all of these crops varied, and Hopi farmers were busy throughout the summer with their crops.

Men also were in charge of hunting, and their largely vegetarian diet was supplemented by small desert animals such as rabbits and rodents, as well as by deer and antelope from the mountains. Men also were responsible for making such hunting and farming gear as they needed, and for producing baskets used to carry and store food and other goods. And they were charged with providing firewood for cooking and for winter heating. Men did spinning and weaving to make cotton clothes. If they had time left over from all of these pursuits, they also might make jewelry from local or traded stones (including turquoise) or from shell or coral traded from afar.

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Women meanwhile were in charge of food preparation, which centrally included fetching water and the laborious shelling and grinding of sun-dried corn, the main ingredient in most Hopi meals.

Like the Anasazi before them, Hopi used grinding stones (metates) in groups of three, which varied in the coarseness with which the corn was ground. The finest blue corn meal could be used to make a paper-like bread, called piki, cooked on a flat stone griddle lubricated with cottonseed oil. Coarser corn meal was used to make corn breads, and hominy was eaten as well. Like corn, beans were normally dried for storage and then boiled and roasted as needed. In addition to meat that was hunted, some turkeys were kept as domestic fowl.

Powell describes the making of piki bread, probably for a ceremonial occasion, while he was resident in Oraibi (1875: 18-20):

Their corn is raised in fields near by, out in the drifting sands, by digging pits eighteen inches to two feet deep, in which the seeds are planted early in the spring, while the ground is yet moist. When it has ripened, it is gathered, brought in from the fields in baskets, carried by the women and stored away in their rooms, being carefully corded. They take great pains to raise corn of different colors, and have the corn of each color stored in a separate room. picture link This is ground by hand to make by hand to a fine paste like a rather thick gruel. In every house there is a little oven made of a flat stone eighteen or twenty inches square, raised four o five inches from the floor, and beneath this a little fire is built. When the oven is hot and the dough mixed in a little vessel of pottery, the good woman plunges her hand in the mixture and rapidly smears the broad surface of the furnace rock with a thin coating of the paste. In a few moments the film of batter is baked; when taken up it looks like a sheet of paper. This she folds and places on a tray. Having made seven sheets of this paper bread from the batter of one color and placed them on the tray, she takes batter of another color, and in this way, makes seven sheets of each of the several colors of corn batter.

They have many curious ways of preparing their food, but perhaps the daintiest dish is "virgin hash." This is made by chewing morsels of meat and bread, rolling them in the mouth into little lumps about the size of a horse-chestnut, and then tying them up in bits of corn husk. When a number of these are made, they are thrown into a pot and boiled like dumplings. The mos5t curious thing of all is, that only certain persons are allowed to prepare these dumplings; the tongue and palate kneading must be done by a virgin. An old feud is sometimes avenged by pretending hospitality, and giving to the enemy dumplings made by a lewd woman.

In addition to their work with meals, Hopi women concerned themselves more than men did with caring for young children and with the general upkeep of the house, including cleaning and repairing the adobe walls.

As in other human societies, there was for the Hopi a salient and obvious distinction between men's work and women's work. The relatively rigid division of tasks between men and women was linked to a Hopi understanding of the inherent duality of the world, and of the necessity for balance between pairs of forces. Thus men and women were seen as dependent upon each other and at the same time supporting each other.

7. Marriage

Traditionally, unmarried Hopi women wore their hair parted in the middle and then wound into a large "pinwheel" on each side of the head, a style which they abandoned after they were married. As marriage drew near, the bride's and groom's families would exchange gifts. The groom and his male relatives would retreat to an underground community house (kiva) to spin cotton into cloth and make up wedding clothes for the bride. The bride would spend four days at the groom's mother's household making piki bread that would be part of the marriage feast, but which at the same time illustrated her domestic skills to her prospective mother-in-law. Some of this piki would be used to "pay" the groom and his relatives for the wedding clothes they had made for her. Symbolically, the groom was providing a "male" product (cloth) to the bride and her family, while she was providing a "female" product (food) to the groom and his relatives, stressing both the reciprocity between men and women and the new ties between the two families.

8. Chiefs

In a village of only 500, formal political organization is small in scale and intimately intertwined with the religious and kinship relations that run through households, lineages, and clans. Each village has a male chief (called a kikmóngwi), who has influence because of having been selected as chief, but who has no power to enforce his decisions. Indeed, his most important job is ritual: He supervises village rituals, probably the most prestigious task in Hopi society.

The chief is selected for life by male leaders of all the clans that are represented in the village. These male clan leaders also serve as a kind of town council. For reasons that go back into the mists of prehistory, only a member of the Bear clan can serve as a chief. But obviously other characteristics are also necessary. For one thing, the man should be a good Hopi, that is, he should exhibit the traits of personal integrity and even-temperedness that Hopi value. And he should be an efficient farmer and a reliable member of his family and of the village. He should also seem "spiritual," that is, he should exhibit a concern with spiritual affairs and seem to rise above what is trivial in daily life. If ever he fails to manifest these virtues — if he acts with arrogance or selfishness or stupidity — the same group of clan leaders that elected him can replace him, although of course to do so is a major crisis in a Hopi community.

Assisting the village chief is an officer referred to as a "town crier." His duties are exactly what the name implies. He climbs to a rooftop near the center of the village and makes announcements on behalf of the chief or of the heads of village ritual organizations. It was probably such a "town crier" whom Powell was describing when he wrote the following lines (1875: 22):

At the dawn of day the governor of the town goes up to the top of his house and calls on the people to come forth. In a few moments the upper story of the two in covered with men, women, and children. For a few minutes he harangues them on the duties of the day. Then, as the sun is about to rise, they all sit down, draw their blankets over their heads and peer out through a little opening and watch for the sun. As the upper limb appears above the horizon every person murmurs a prayer, and continues until the whole disk is seen, when the prayer ends and the people turn to their various avocations.

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