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No. 390: Hopi Rock Art (Part Two)

Painted high on a rock face in Grotto Canyon near Exshaw are several images of native rock art. The figure of a hunched Flute Player distinguishes the ochre smudges as that of a Hopi origin.

As historian Marty Magne of Parks Canada explains, according to Hopi legends, in order for them to find their common home, the gods sent the Hopi on a migration in each of the four directions. But the Hopi who travelled north got into trouble.

Well they did, that's interesting, because they went and presumably through Grotto Canyon and the Rocky Mountains and so on, and when they got to the Arctic Circle they encountered massive snow and ice, and they didn't know what to do about that. They thought they'd reached the end.

Well, then they realized they hadn't. So they called together their powers - their magical powers that they had as beings, as the originators - and tried to melt the snow and the ice with heat from tropics and from vibrations. And they couldn't do it.

They were then visited by one of their deities who said, "What you are doing is wrong. If you succeed in melting the snow and ice, you will cause the rest of the world to flood. So turn back and continue your migrations in that way."

And they did so, and, following his advice, they did reach their common home.

And that's in present-day Arizona. The Hopi people established themselves as farmers and planted corn.

The hunched Flute Player, as drawn at Grotto Canyon, was an important symbol in their culture, with many meanings.

The Flute Player, is a fertility symbol. Not just a human fertility symbol, but symbol of fertility for crops. He carried corn, and would plant corn, and it was through his magic that they were able to plant corn and ensure their own type of subsistence.

While the Blackfoot and other plains Indians also practiced rock painting, only the Hopi Indians have the Flute Player as a symbol. So they must have travelled through Alberta to the far north, just as the Hopi legends say.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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