“As the traveler who has once been from home is wiser than he who has never left his own doorstep, so a knowledge of one other culture should sharpen our ability to scrutinize more steadily our own.”
- Margaret Mead
Day 169 – Friday, December 8, 1995 – The walkers have taken steps along the highway nearly as far their base camp in Window Rock, and soon will be heading on toward Hopi and the crucial North American sacred sites of Black Mesa and Big Mountain.
The territory where our walk now treads is the same territory where, more than 450 years ago, the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Tovar rode with his troops.
Tovar had been part of the Coronado expedition, which made the famous probe north from Mexico in 1540 into the belly of Turtle Island in furious search for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola: the Seven Cities of Gold.
Instead Coronado found the humble mud village of Hawikkuh, a place now known as Zuni. With crossbows, swords, lances, muskets, and cannon the conquistadors attacked the village, and subdued the inhabitants.
Coronado’s aide then read to the people a requerimiento—a formal declaration of sovereignty, and a set of demands. The requerimiento asserted that the Popes—who claimed to be direct successors of the man god Jesus Christ through his apostle Peter—held God's authority for rulership over the entire Earth. The declaration also said that the Pope had the right to share his supreme rulership with allied kings and their armies, and that to all of this the native people must swear immediate allegiance.
The formal demands were unitelligible to the natives because they were read in Latin. In essence, the requerimiento said: If you do not surrender completely now and bow down and worship our god, we will subject you to the yoke and obedience of the church and the king. We will take your wives and children, and we will make them slaves…We will take your property…We declare that the deaths and injuries that occur as a result of this would be your fault, not ours…
|Hawikkuh - A photograph of the Zuni village in New Mexico from around 1900. It is considered to be a fair approximation of how the village would have looked when the conquistadors arrived.
Coronado found no gold at Hawikkuh. The village leaders, wanting to distract the invaders and send them away, told Coronado that there were cities to the northeast and to the northwest. Coronado reckoned that the fabled cities of gold probably lay east, and so he headed that way with most of the expedition. He ordered Capitan de Tovar and 20 soldiers to ride west and check out the Hopi region.
Following orders, Pedro de Tovar led his armed force toward the sacred Black Mesa – the very place that the Sunbow 5 walkers are now headed toward.
Coronado, de Tovar, de Soto, and all the other conquerers of the Americas acted under the express authority of Alexander VI, the Pope. Alexander was part of the infamous Borgia family, and inarguably among the most controversial of Popes owing to his sex orgies, murders, and financial malfeasance.
Immediately after Columbus reported his "discovery" of the new world in 1492, Pope Alexander VI in Rome issued in 1493 a document entitled Papal Bull Inter Cetera,
The Inter Cetera Bull laid the legal groundwork for Europeans to invade, make war against, and take possession of North and South America on the basis that the inhabitants were not Christian.
Scholar Steven T. Newcomb, has written about the Inter Cetera Bull, that it was in essence a declaration of war against native peoples with the objective of gaining first their lands, and second their souls. Because the Papal Bull remains the legal basis for a vast host of issues, Newcomb concludes that war of conquest "legitimized" by the Bull has not yet ended. With other indigenous leaders from Turtle Island and around the world, he continues to press the Vatican to revoke and repudiate the Inter Cetera Bull.
For the Popes, conquistadors, native people, plants, animals, waters, mountains and stars, for all of these part of the hoop and all the rest, with acknowledgement but without judgement, the Sunbow 5 pilgrims prayed as they walked.
It will yet be several days of walking through the cold and wind before the walk arrives at Hopi and Black Mesa.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 170 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire