Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion

By Morton Klass; Maxine Weisgrau | Go to book overview

the Tribal Police and Court; village governing bodies--usually a "Governor" and "Board of Directors"--in some villages; and above all the creation of a pan-Hopi Tribal Council (which now has several separate departments) as a result of the Wheeler-Howard Act of 1934.

Reaction to these structures has been various. The majority are at least partially accepted nowadays and they impinge upon many spheres of Hopi life. Nevertheless, the Tribal Council has met with fluctuating and limited success in replacing the traditional political forms. It has been, and often still is, unable to establish a quorum, because traditional village leaders sometimes refuse to certify elected representatives (a prerogative established in the Tribal Constitution). Further, an anti-Council "Traditionalist" movement has become increasingly organised since the 1940's (cf. Clemmer 1978; 1982). The interaction of all these forces (and others) takes different forms in different villages and among different groups within the same village--hence the complexity.

Nevertheless, despite dramatic changes in Hopi life in the present century, the community of belief and numerous features of the politico-religious system described above persist. As a scheme for the enforcement of social conformity, maqastutavo is still very active, although not perhaps so pervasively as in the past. When the Tribal Council was bewitched (allegedly by the Traditionalist faction) in 1980, supposedly "progressive" members of the Tribal organisation rapidly evacuated the building, and a tuuhikya was called in to discharm the place. Supernaturally induced benefits and sanctions remain prominent features of Hopi discourse. The term pavansinom continues in use and, as Nagata points out (above), may be applied to Tribal Council officials.

There is an enduring belief in the elevated status and capacities of lineage- members in which power was traditionally vested. It was still a significant act in 1980 for a man, frustrated with his village's modern-style governing body, to appeal to men of the Bear and Spider clans to resume their traditional mandates as societal leaders (which had not been formally operative for seventy years). Similarly, it is not uncommon for members of old pavansinom lineage-segments to be elected to modern offices, with explicit suggestions that their suitability is sanctioned by traditional associations.


Conclusion

I hope to have demonstrated that there is a significant division in Hopi society into those who have power and those who do not--pavansinom and sukavungsinom. Moreover, this division includes an institutionalised authority structure where legitimate leadership roles are inherited within matrilineage segments. Power is fundamentally equated with elite access to specialised secret knowledge which enables the bearer to induce significant transformations in the world. Ritual knowledge is the "strategic resource"; material entities are not the medium of power differentials. The structure of ritual leadership is simultaneously the structure of political leadership. Political action on the part of the pavansinom is ho

-318-

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