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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Duwahoyeoma Educates Students On Hopi Participation In World Wars
by Crystal Dee - Hopi Tutuveni
Bernita Dawahoyeoma Hopi Lavayi Teacher at the First Mesa Elementary School stands next to her display.

Bernita Duwahoyeoma, Hopi Lavayi teacher at First Mesa Elementary School (FMES) said she was listening to KUYI Hopi radio as they were broadcasting live from the Hopi Veteran's Day events and heard them talking about a topic she was trying to convey to her students.

"Traditionally and historically, Hopi's don't believe in warfare or taking human life," said Duwahoyeoma. "In fact they believe in the opposite."

During World War II, the armed forces drafted young men, Duwahoyeoma said a lot of our Hopi boys and men didn't have a choice and were forced to go.

"I can only speculate as to what these men went through because I have heard stories from my uncle Percival Navenma who was a Hopi Code Talker, my father in-law Tom Humeyestewa and my father who was stationed on a ship."

Duwahoyeoma said Hopis have warriors called; qalèetaqa's who are originally from the Eagle clan and traditionally warfare belongs to them. They protected the Hopi people from other tribes during conflict.

A lot the men who went to World War II had gone through the initiation of the qalèetaqa in which they are taught all the beliefs and explanations of the Hopi way of life.

When these men went to war, they witnessed death and they took life, but having gone through the wuwtsim ceremony they made the connection through the ceremony to help them get through those tough times.

"My father in-law said when he spent time in the trenches with dead bodies he felt like screaming, and then started to sing the songs he learned in the wuwtsim ceremony," said Duwahoyeoma. "The words in the songs were about life, strength, respect and everything else."

These men didn't go to war by choice and what they experienced was very traumatic for them. Duwahoyeoma said most of the older men don't want to talk about their experiences or get recognized during Veterans Day.

"I wanted my students to know that a lot of our Hopi men didn't have choices, but when they were at war they looked back on our culture which shows that our culture is very strong and very valuable and we should never forget it," said Duwahoyeoma.

She added that her students have never heard this part of Hopi history and the older Veterans who were in conflict, didn't look at themselves as heroes, they wanted to forget that experience of the war.

"My students have deep respect for the military men who went to World War II," said Duwahoyeoma. "And the men and women who have served and are still active military."

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