In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Book That Holds the Truth, Hopi Prophesied Book of Truth and the Book of Mormon

In the history of Hopi prophecy there is a story of the white man’s book of truth.  This book is said to hold many things.  It has been said that it holds the history of the Hopi people and their ancestors.  It is said that  if the Hopi learn the truths of this book they can compete with the white man.  It is a story that has been handed down from generation to generation.  When this prophecy originated is unknown but seems to have been known on different Hopi Mesas.

  In my research I have been able to collect two accounts of the prophecy of the “Book of Truth” the first one is contained in the life story of Helen Sekaqueptewa called, “Me and Mine”.    She tells of when she was living in Hotevilla (Third Mesa) during the winter time her father would share the teachings of the kiva to pass the long hours.  She described her father’s teachings as such, “You are young now and may not be interested, but I must teach you now while I am here with you.  As you grow older then you will learn to understand and know it is the truth.” (Helen said “this has come to pass”).  He taught, “The white man has kept a written record of the history of the people from the beginning, while the Hopis have passed their history from one generation to another by word of mouth.  With the telling over the years, some of it has been omitted or misunderstood, and changes have been made.  The written record is more accurate and true.  There will come a time when the written record will be brought to the Hopis by the white man.  There will be many religions taught.  You will need to be wise to recognize and choose the right church.  It will teach you to be humble and will not try to force you into it.  When that time comes we should all forsake our native religion and join this true church.  There will come a time when all the people of the earth will belong to the one true church, and we will all speak the same language and be as one people.” ( Me and Mine: the Life Story of Helen Sekaquaptewa as to Louise Udall pg. 234-235.)

Helen Sekaquaptewa
Helen advised that her father shared these teachings many times stating, “I tell you this because you are my own blood.  I want you to take it to heart and teach it to your children.  I want you and your children to live by those teachings and benefit by what I have said.”( Me and Mine: the Life Story of Helen Sekaquaptewa as to Louise Udall pg. 234-235.)  These teachings were shared with her and her husband Emory long before they had ever heard of the Book of Mormon.  In addition she said “the traditionals would now deny that this is what their father’s used to teach.  When we heard of and read the Book of Mormon it sounded like a familiar story.  Reading the Bible and the Book of Mormon has helped us to understand the Hopi traditions, and the Hopi traditions helped us to understand these books of scripture.

She also related the following story, “When the Mormon missionaries came to Second Mesa, they taught the first chapters of the Book of Mormon, telling of a prophet named Lehi who was told by the Lord to take his family, a wife and four sons, and leave Jerusalem because that city was going to be destroyed because of the wickedness of the inhabitants (this in the year 600B.C.), how they journeyed many days in the wilderness on their way to the sea, how Lehi sent his sons back to Jerusalem to get their records of their forefathers and the teachings of their prophets, how they were led to a land that was choice above all other lands, having crossed the mighty waters and landed in America.

The head priests of the Hopis at Second Mesa, hearing these things, accosted the Elders and angrily said, “How come you know these things? You are not old enough to know it.  Who told you these things? Only older men, high in the priesthood, know that.  You keep your mouths shut.”( Me and Mine: the Life Story of Helen Sekaquaptewa as to Louise Udall pg. 241-242.)

Helen admits that these teachings were given to her from her father before she had ever heard of the Book of Mormon or was ever baptized in to the LDS church but readers of this article may assume that this is a biased opinion of Helen influenced by the LDS teachings and history of the Book of Mormon.  As I have stated in earlier blog posts my uncle served as missionary to the Hopi in the 1950’s under president Golden Buchanan and knew Helen personally and spoke highly of her and her family so I believe her account of these teachings.  With that in mind I still continued to search for any other teachings of this record of the white man with the truth or history of the people that may have been shared to other Hopi’s as a traditional prophecy.  In my research I came across the book “Born a Chief” the story of Edmund Nequatewa.  This story moves us from the Helen’s village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa to Mishongnovi of Second Mesa.  This is the same mesa that Helen recounted the story of the Hopi Elders being angry at LDS missionaries for sharing the story of Lehi and his family because it was a sacred story only to be known by Hopi Elders.

Edmund Nequatewa
Edmund Nequatewa was a young man in line to be an Elder on Second Mesa and because of this his grandfather made the decision to send him to school and even farther away to Phoenix to boarding school.  Before doing so he gave him some instruction advising that he wants him to learn as much as he can at these schools and to learn the ways of the white man.  He also advised that the white man had a book of knowledge which holds the truth.  He stated, “The book that holds the truth is a black book, and it is about that thick.  The white people keep it at the bottom of the pile, where Hopis cannot see it.  If we ever learn the truth of this book, then we can compete with the white man.  This is why he is afraid to teach us right now.  This is the truth that I want to know.”( Born a Chief: The Nineteenth Century Hopi Boyhood of Edmund Nequatewa, as told to Alfred F. Whiting pg. 111.. )

He further advised, “…Don’t forget what I am sending you down there for.  And if that book really contains the truth, you will surely learn something.”  He also advised for him to learn as much as he can from the different Kachina ceremonies but added, “We told you that the Kachina are supernatural beings, but they’re not, and all the ceremonies are like that.  In a way, every ceremony is devious.

The different clans who have taken up these ceremonies have passed away, one after another.  The day will come when all my relatives will vanish.  When that day comes, no matter where you go-to Walpi, Second Mesa, Third Mesa-you will find that clans that support different ceremonies will be vanishing.  If this was the true way, the clans that have carried these ceremonies should be the only ones to prosper, and the poor people who never had any ceremonies would have vanished long ago because they would have had no god.  But this is not the way it is.  All these traditions have been handed down during many, many years from one generation to the other, and up to this day all these things are all vague in our minds.”( Born a Chief: The Nineteenth Century Hopi Boyhood of Edmund Nequatewa, as told to Alfred F. Whiting pg. 112-113.)

Edmund later recognized the mysterious book as the Bible and applied its teachings to his life.  I find it interesting that we have a second witness (non LDS) to these traditional teachings of a mysterious book that would be had by the “white man” that has a hidden truth or history of Hopi and their ancestors that would be shared with the Hopi at a later date to bring truth and understanding.  Although Edmund recognized the book as the Bible and Helen recognized it as the Book of Mormon (and the Bible) we see that the connection to applying this prophecy to ancient scripture is the current thought process.  I would agree with both of them in their understandings and applaud Helen Sekaqueptewa’s conclusion because when comparing Hopi traditional migration stories with migrations of the Lamanite and Nephite populations found in the Book of Mormon there seems to be a correlative connection to be had.  Current studies are being held in regards to the Uto-Aztecan language spoken by that of the Hopi (and many other native tribes from Utah south to Northern Mexico) and the Egyptian and Hebrew languages. These studies are still in their infancy so more will be forth coming in the future.  Until then I add the "Book of Truth" as one more interrelationship between the Hopi and the Nephite/Lamanite populations of the Book of Mormon.

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