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
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
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
"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
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
"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."