[NATIVE AMERICANS -- NAVAHO & MOQUI (HOPI) TRIBES]. BACKUS, Electus. Manuscript signed ("E.B."), a transcript of Dr. Ten Broeck's journal of his visits to Navaho and Moqui (Hopi) villages during March and April of 1852, [Ft. Defiance, Arizona Territory], 23 April 1852. 20 pages, folio, in fine condition. [With:] Manuscript map depicting Ten Broeck's route and the location of the Moqui villages, [Fort Defiance, 23 April 1852]. 12¼ x 16 inches, in a neat hand, black and red inks, two minor fold separations, repaired tear.
A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF HOPI LIFE AND RITUALS: "THEY CAME AND VANISHED LIKE A DREAM"
A vividly descriptive account of the life and rituals of the peoples of the American southwest written by the post doctor of Fort Defiance, who evidently had a strong anthropological interest in cultural practices and cosmological and religious beliefs. The manuscript is a true copy of Dr. Ten Brock's account, transcribed two weeks after his journey by post commander Electus Backus, who accompanied him.
The two men witnessed many rituals, including a rain dance: "Twenty men and as many women are ranged in two files... Each man has his face covered with a sort of visor made of small willows with the bark pealed off and dyed of a deep brown. They all carry in their hands gourds filled with small pebbles, which are rattled to keep time with the dance. The women all have their hair put up in the manner peculiar to virgins, and in the center, where the hair is parted, a long straight feather is fixed. By far the most beautiful part of the dress is the Tilma, of some 3 1/2 feet square, which is thrown over the shoulders and fastened over the chest in front, hanging down behind and reaching half way below the knee of pure white...They had no tombe (drum) accompaniment, nor any band of singers, but the dancers furnished their own music, and a most singular sound it was, resembling nothing so much as the noise of a swarm of blue bottles in an empty hogshead...rugs & blankets being brought the virgins squatted upon these while the men kept up a kind of murmuring dance in front of them." The costumes of another dance clearly surprised the doctor: "... Such horrible masks I never saw before, noses six inches long, mouths from ear to ear, great goggle eyes as big as half a hen's egg, and hanging by a string half out of the socket. They came and vanished like a dream." Ten Broeck was surprised to learn that no women actually participated in this dance: "...it is contrary to their usages to permit the females to dance, and that those that I had supposed to be virgins were young men who had adapted the female dress for the occasion. This is peculiar to Moqui. Elsewhere the females join in the dance." The Doctor also notes specific elements of Moqui culture and traditions: "The government is hereditary but does not necessarily descend to the sons of the incumbent, for if the people prefer a blood relative they make him Governor...They say that of late years their numbers have decreased owing to wars and disease...Of their Origin they give the following account. Many, many years ago, the great Mother brought from her home in the West nine races of men in the following forms. Deer, Land, Water, Bear, Horse, Prairie Wolf, rattle Snake, Tobacco Plant, reed Grass. Having placed them on the spot where their villages now stand, she transformed them into men, who built the present Pueblos. The distinctions of races are still kept up. One told me he was of the Land race, another that he was of the Deer race, & etc. They say that when they die they resolve again into their original forms."
First-hand accounts of these tribes from this early period are rarely available. (2)