Gail's Blog

Hopi Indian Wisdom through Ernie’s Visit

I recently spoke at the Southwest Dowser’s Conference in Flagstaff, Arizona.  This was the intention of the visit.  The real purpose I found out was something else.  After speaking twice during this conference, I was invited to travel to the Hopi Indian Reservation about two hours away.  I have never spent any time on an Indian Reservation.  The closest I have gotten was driving through them in South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and California.  They always seemed very barren, dry and uninviting.  They always seemed devoid of population.

Native American Heritage

Meet Ernie

After a dry landscape drive from Flagstaff, we arrived on the reservation at Ernie’s home and gallery.  I say gallery lightly.  It was really a trailer with a nondescript side building or trailer for storage.  There were a few stray dogs and sagging wooden stairs into the “gallery”.  Ernie was to be my guide for the rest of the afternoon.  He is a tall, welcoming man, hefty in size and quite commanding.  I found out he had been a bounty hunter for 15 years–a bounty hunter who never used or carried a gun.  He met with the “client” and literally talked them into turning themselves in.   It was either go with Ernie peacefully, who would try and mediate on your behalf, or wait for the police for a pretty basic unpleasant solution.  Ernie has a way about him.  You will definitely listen and reason with yourself.

Hopi Beliefs Through Ernie

In this barren, inhospitable terrain, this is what I learned listening to Ernie.  First off, the Hopi are a very peaceful tribe.  They do not allow any casinos on their reservation.  You cannot take a photo of anything, nor can you take away anything from the land (such as a rock or pebble).  You cannot see their petroglyphs or prophesy rock without an Indian escort.  Actually you cannot drive around on the reservation without being observed and perhaps followed.  The reservation police drive around in unmarked pick up trucks and have very watchful eyes.

The Hopi believe that we own nothing.  Everything belongs to Mother Earth and it is foolish to hoard cars, houses, stuff.  It is wiser to hoard seeds so that you can feed yourself in hard times.  If you pick up a broken piece of ancient pottery which is very prevalent, you must leave it on a rock called “payback” rock.  You cannot take anything from Mother Earth without giving back to her.    Ernie went on to say that he makes investments but they are investments in other people’s abilities.  For example, he helps artists make and paint the Kachina dolls.  Some of these artists are novices.  Rather than correct and discourage, he buys their first pieces and tells them that “he knows one day they will be very good and expensive and that he must buy it now before they become too expensive to purchase.”  In this positive way, the budding artists develop faith in themselves.  It is always about encouraging independence in the individual.  Ernie went on to say that you must “become something before you can do something”.

In this barren land Ernie pointed out all the large clam shells that have become fossils.  He pointed out the scrubby bush whose tiny leaves, when placed in water, make a wonderful shampoo.  Another bush had aphrodisiac qualities and that they would place its branches in the watering hole for the horses of the soldiers so that they would not be able to follow them.  The petroglyphs were inspiring.  They tell the Hopi tale of what was and what is to come.  They even have carvings of space visitors.  These barren lands are rich in history and sacred story.  After awhile you become very quiet as you know you have entered a very special space in time.  You have entered another world.

Experience it Yourself

For those of you who might want to experience the Hopi Reservation more entirely, contact me and I will put you in touch with Ernie.  You will be changed.  The reservation is very poor.  They have a water problem and carry their water in 5 gallon containers.  Many of the homes have dirt floors.  They are very clean and very well decorated inside.  The dogs are free to roam at night and hunt.   They return in the day to their homes.  I arrived at a place where an American is helping them dig a water well.  I was greeted with at least 6 dogs who were friendly and indifferent.

Ernie has three empty houses out on the reservation where people can stay.  Of course, you will have to live off the land for your food and water.  There is no electricity or running water in these three houses.  For those who want to come and meet themselves in the magical space called “the beginning”, I encourage a visit with Ernie.

Incidentally, I picked out and purchased a Kachina doll.  I asked Ernie the meaning of the Kachina that I chose.  He told me it was the Female Sun who lives in the house that holds the sun.  She is there at sunrise and sunset and peaks over the mountain to shine on everything she touches.  She brings morning light–first light and brings light to all.  Through shining this light, she helps others gain independence.

Nobody spoke during the drive back to Flagstaff.  There  was much to process.

3 responses to “Hopi Indian Wisdom through Ernie’s Visit”

  1. Jerry Lewis says:

    I too have met the man named Ernie. His outlook is as simple as following a pathway. If you were not supposed to be there then the door would not have been answered. I have been fortunate in my lifelong friends. Most are very diversified in their talents. Perfect description for Ernie. He tirelessly articulates life according to his journeys, keeping one the edge of the seat. I feel more comfortable in his presence than I do at home with the Family during Thanksgiving. A gift, a peace, as well as giving hope that mankind can progress in the moral dilemma. Oh, but he is a prankster. Always expect the unexpected from the jovial Hopi. Never know what to expect there. Where else can you be in someone’s home and see a picture of Albert E=MC2 hanging out with the family? The abnormal is the norm. Different priorities give credence to less is More. Could be the end of Beowulf’s journey!

  2. Judy Griffin says:

    I was astonished to read about your experience on the Hopi mesas, with Ernie. I have met Ernie as well. He is quite a Hopi ambassador. My husband and I have been up there (from Tucson) twice now, and prefer to go to First mesa. There is so much to see and feel in that special place. There really aren’t enough good words to say about these people. I have read many books about their history and they have become part of my life. Times are tough off of the reservation, as well, and that is why I have not been able to spend as much time there as I would like. There are also Hopi ruins located at Homolovi State Park, just north of Winslow. They are a part of the migration that the Hopi made before they got to their mesas. There are guided tours offered (see their website). I can sense in your writing how that experience affected you and I am so glad that you had it.

  3. Jan Peppler says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience, Gail. It is beautiful and I love knowing that others can visit Ernie as well. I just returned from 3 weeks in Ethiopia, working with women who suffered childbirth injuries. They lived in villages w/out electricity and had water only from a stream – in one case, an hour and a half away. We take so much for granted here. Experiencing how to live more simply – if even for only an afternoon – is always a good thing: good for our hearts, good for our souls, good for the earth.

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