In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Life of Chief Tuba

Chief Tuba
The relationship between Chief Tuba (Tuuvi or Toova) and the early Mormon pioneers especially Jacob Hamblin has always been one of interest to me.  Chief Tuba was born in Oraibi Arizona (3rd Mesa) as a member of the short corn clan (or pumpkin clan).  Hopi tradition does not give his real name but according to a story given to a Mormon missionary his Hopi name was "Woo Pah".  Tuba became involved in an unremembered dissension at Oraibi, and left the village to "be at peace".  From then on, "Woo Pah" was known among the Hopi as Tuuvi, meaning the "outcast or the rejected one".

Tuba settled at Moencopi, about fifty miles west of Oraibi.  The Hopi say that at first, Tuba settled at Moencopi alone with his wife, living there all year long whereas before it had been a seasonal settlement.  However, soon people of Tuba's Short Corn Clan followed him, and eventually members of other clans until a community was created.  Tuba told one Mormon that after he had settled at Moencopi, there came a time when the Hopi's who lived with him "became lazy and wicked", refusing to "plant and tend the herds."  Tuba was greatly distressed about this, and as he sat brooding, he saw an old man approach with a long white beard.  The man claimed to have a message from God that the people must plant and take care of their herds or they would die in a three year famine that was to come. Tuba then turned his head and the man disappeared.  Tuba did as instructed and stored his own corn in a bin which was enought to last through the predicted famine.  Purportedly, Tuba explained that a long time ago there were three men that had been left on the earth, and when the Hopi were in trouble, one would come to advise them.  He believed that this stranger was one of them. 

Jacob Hamblin
The first Mormon missionaries to visit the Hopi came in 1858 under the leadership of Jacob Hamblin.  In November 1870, Tuba left his home with his wife, Pulaskaninki and Hamblin to spend time in southern Utah in order to learn the agricultural ways of the Mormons.  This was against a Hopi taboo forbidding Hopis from crossing the Colorado River until three prophets who anciently had led the Hopi to their current homeland returned.  Tuba spent nearly a year in the company of the Mormons.  He was  able to meet the Mormon leader, Brigham Young at St. George.  It was while in St. George that Tuba and his wife took out their endowments in the temple and was also given a suit as a gift from President Young.  Tuba was particularly impressed by a factory where yarn was being mechanically spun.  In Hopi culture, it is the men who spin the yarn for blankets, and its spun by hand.  According to Jacob Hamblin, after seeing this factory Tuba "could never think of spinning yarn again with his fingers, to make blankets." His wife was most impressed by the Mormon grist mills, a major improvement over grinding corn by stone.

Although Tuba seems to have had various disagreements with village leaders in Oraibi, he apparently retained access to one of the Hopi's sacred stones.  On one occasion, several Mormons were visiting Tuba in Oraibi and he took his visitors inside the village kiva.  There, he produced what appeared to be a marble slab about 15"x18" covered in "hieroglyphic" markings including clouds and stars.  The later Ethnological Report No. 4 produced by the US government seems to uphold the existence of such a stone based on the testimony of John W. Young and Andrew S. Gibbons.  This describes the stone as made of "red-clouded marble, entirely different from anything found in the region."

Tuba City Corn 1941
In 1879, a wool factory was built in Tuba City in order to "benefit the Indians and the [LDS] Church.  No doubt this edifice reminded Tuba of the factory which had so engaged his imagination in southern Utah nine years before. The settlement of his Mormon friends at Tuba City and the completion of the factory may have been the high point in Tuba's life, for it seems his last decade was marked with sadness.  The woolen factory was in operation for only a short time and within a few years it had fallen into disrepair.  It is reported that Tuba "took particular pride in watching over the remains of the factory, but after his death the ruination of the building was made complete."  It also seems that at some point in his last years, Tuba's wife left him for a younger man, and afterwards Tuba spent  about three years living in the home of Mormon missionary C.L.Christensen.  Tuba died in 1887, and at least some of Tuba's children were still living in Moencopi into the mid-twentieth century.  In 1941, a sandstone marker with a bronze plaque was dedicated in Tuba City by the LDS Church in honor of Tuba.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lehi's Contemporaries

Father Lehi
So while reading a Hugh Nibley article entitled, "Lehi as a Representative Man" off of the Maxwell Institute I figured I would do a post on a couple of Lehi's possible contemporaries.  These are people that Lehi as a man of culture and travel would have more than likely rubbed shoulders with at some point in there travels and dealings.  Nibley and many other scholars have suggested that Lehi would have been a skilled trader and an educated man because he spoke the language of his fathers and Egyptian as well.  We know that he had riches due to the episode of his sons second attempt to obtain the plates of Laban in which they attempted to trade their family riches and inheritance that the left once the family fled into the wilderness.  As a prophet of God Lehi would likely have been preaching in places where many could hear his voice and this would include conversing ideals with the thinkers and bright minds of his day. So who were some of the bright minds of his day that would have been in or around the areas in Lehi's environment? 

The first name that Nibley threw out was Solon, he was born in 638 B.C. and died in 558 B.C. and was an Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet.  He is credited mainly as the father of democracy.  Ancient authors such as Herodotus and Plutarch are the main sources of information on Solon although they wrote about him long after his death.  As a lawmaker Solon was a reformer or a voice of political reason or moderation in Athens.  After his reforms Solon travelled abroad for 10 years and visited places such as Egypt and Cyrus and could have easily rubbed shoulders with Lehi during this time. Solon was also among the "seven sages" a title given by ancient Greek tradition to seven early 6th century B.C. philosophers, statesmen and lawgivers that were renowned in the following centuries for their wisdom. 

The other name mentioned was that of Thales who was born in the city of Miletus a Greek Ionian city around the mid 620's B.C.  His mother was a Phoenician and he received most of his education in Egypt, which gives him a similar cultural background to that of Lehi.  He is considered by many the first philosopher in Greek tradition.  He was known for explaining natural phenomena without reference to mythology.  Because of the way that he did this he has been noted as the "Father of Science".  Thales also used mathmatics to solve many problems so he is credited for first applying geometry.  Thales was also considered one of the seven sages or wise men.  Although the list of sages sometimes varies, the ones usually included are the following:

-Cleobulus of Lindos
-Solon of Athens
-Chilon of Sparta
-Bias of Priene
-Thales of Miletus
-Pittacus of Mytilene
-Periander of Corinth

It is interesting to consider that Lehi was rubbing shoulders with some of the wisest men of all time who's influence is still felt today. But if the Book of Mormon is what it proclaims to be than Lehi himself could be considered to be the most influential of them all. Not just because he would be the father of the Nephite and Lamanite nations but because of the influence of the Book of Mormon today.  Lehi was of the Tribe of Manasseh, which of all the tribes retained the old desert ways and was most active in the caravan trade so it is very likely that he would have been associated with Solon and Thales at some point in his life or at least aware of their teachings and influence.