By Janaya K. Tafoya, grade 10, *Hopi & Santa Clara Pueblo*

2011/2012 Reconnecting The Circle Essay Winner

Janaya K. Tafoya

Janaya K. Tafoya, *Hopi & Santa Clara Pueblo*

I have always felt I lived in two worlds, but this past winter I reconnected with my Circle.

I was born to young parents who have always taught me my native ways the way that their grandparents, uncles, aunties, and parents taught them. As we grew up together they did something for me that I will never forget.

This past winter, my parents sponsored a buffalo dance on the Hopi reservation. I was able to have an experience that my mother never had. In the early part of getting ready, I would come home from school and on weekends grind corn on a stone. At first I pleaded with my mother asking her if there was an easier way of doing this. My mother told me I had to do this for the people. At first I did not understand. My legs would cramp and my toes would turn purple then I would start praying for the day of the dance and for me to be strong.

My mother and father told me the purpose of what I was doing.  The way everything is right now with the Mayan calendar ending and the Hopi beliefs of the prophecies, a Buffalo dance was needed to heal the people and make them come together for the purpose of the universe. A buffalo dance is only done in the winter to bring the cold weather.

In Hopi, there are many villages and during the buffalo dance five other groups came from five other villages to dance. I am from the oldest village in Hopi. Many of the people were very happy this buffalo dance was happening, because nothing really happens in Oribe and it was a way we all brought in the New Year 2012.

As I came out of the kiva that night, I experienced something not many women get to experience. I was a part of this world and the spirit world. I was not scared or nervous anymore. Everything came naturally. The same thing happened again the next day, but I was saddened that all I worked for was coming to an end. Then I stood there with all the people in the village ready to see the buffalo go home. There, I noticed all my hard work was not for nothing. This was the first time I saw the people of my village standing together as one. Then the people came to me with encouraging words: telling me to have a strong life, not to forget my purpose in life, and not to allow all the bad things to cloud my path.

I would never know the reasons for all that I learned from this event in my life. Life has many steps and reasons. We are surrounded by life no matter the life we choose to live or whether we are born Native American, white, African American, Spanish, Mexican, or any other. We are all human beings. We all have life and a purpose in this universe. That is one thing my mother tells me. Hopi is a way of life. I choose that way every morning before I get on the bus. I go out and pray to the sun, asking for strength for what might come my way; for the ones who passed on to help me with their wisdom for a test I might have; and to be with me during my basketball game. It is up to us to connect with our path, to reconnect our circle.


Two Worlds

Living in two worlds am I

Native or am I a regular kid?

There are times when I would like to hang out

With friends but I can’t

We are busy with traditional things

That’s what happens living in two worlds

I am tired from basketball practice

But I have to help cook for a feast

That is what happens living in two worlds

Looking in my closet I see my Jordan’s

Next to my moccasins

I see my shirt

Next to my manta

That’s what happens living in two worlds

Dancing at a school dance for fun

And dancing in a social dance for a reason

That’s what happens living in two worlds

I would like to sit outside

And hang with friends

At home a girl cannot be out at night

That’s what happens living in two worlds

I see the difference in two worlds

But I see that

 I have a purpose in both



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