Hopi Solstice Ceremony (information, holidaze)

The History of The Hopi Soyaluna Ceremony

(Soyal, Soyala, Sol-ya-lang-eu)



It is a ceremony related to the sun as it relates to the winter solstice.  It is one of the Hopi's most sacred ceremonies and is also called the "Prayer-Offering Ceremony" because it is a time for saying prayers for the New Year and for wishing each other prosperity and health.

The date of this observation is on December 22.  It is celebrated by the Hopi Indians. Although a black Plumed Snake is the basic symbol of this ceremony. But it is not based on snake worship. (Just like their Snake Dance Ceremony isn't either.)  It is a ceremony related to the sun as it relates to the winter solstice.  It is one of the Hopi's most sacred ceremonies and is also called the "Prayer-Offering Ceremony" because it is a time for saying prayers for the New Year and for wishing each other prosperity and health.

Worshiping the sun is pretty common among many ancient people.  In North America, the Hopi also noticed that the sun rose and set at different points on the horizon. They also noticed that the sun would reach it's most vertical position in the summer and that when the sun rose lower in the sky it meant that the weather was colder and the earth was barren.

In midsummer, the Hopi performed their Snake Dance Ceremony when they felt the sun was close to the earth. (See our page on this Sun Dance) But, basically the Sun Dance was a request for rain from the gods of the underworld. But, when the sun started to go away, the Hopi attention was now focused on the sun leaving them altogether. Yikes!  

The Hopi believed that at the winter solstice that took place in December the Sun God had traveled as far from the earth as he ever did. So, in order to bring the Sun God back, this meant that it would require the most powerful humans (aka Hopi warriors) to talk the Sun God to turn around and come back to them.  

Therefore, the whole purpose of the Soyaluna ceremony that the Hopi do still to this day, is to prevent the disappearance of the sun at the time of the year when the days are the shortest.

The preparations for the Soyaluna ceremony start by cutting pieces of cotton string and tying feathers and pinyon needles to the end. These are exchanged among friends and relatives during the day.  Sometimes this is done by tying them in the recipient's hair. 

When the person who made this feathered string gives it to someone, he says, "May all the Katchinas grant you your wishes tomorrow."  The Katchinas are the spirits of the Hopi ancestors. (See our page on Niman Katchina.) Then the giver holds it vertically and moves the string back and forth horizontally. Later that night, everyone takes a willow branch and attaches all the strings that he or she has received to it.  The sticks are carried to the kiva (ceremonial meeting room) and placed in the rafters making the room look like a bower of feathers and pinyon needs. (More about the Kiva is on this page.)

The main celebration will take place in the kiva wear the chief resident of the Hopi society wears a headdress decorated with images that symbolize rain clouds. He will also carry a shield that has a star, an antelope and other symbolic objects have been drawn. Someone will also carry an effigy of Palulukonuh, also called the "Plumed Snake" what is carved from the woody stalk of the agave plant.

The shield bearers enter the kiva and take turns stamping on the sipapu (a shallow hole covered by a board that symbolizes the entrance to the underworld.) Then they arrange themselves into two groups: One on the north side of the room. One on the south side of the room.  They then start singing as the bearer of the sun shield rushes to one side and then the other.  He is driven back by the shield bearers on both sides. The movements of the shield bearers symbolize the attack of hostile powers on the sun. It's not uncommon for one or more of the participants in this mock struggle to faint from the heat inside the kiva and exhaustion.

 One the west wall of the kiva is an altar made up of a stack of corn (two or more ears have been contributed by each family in the pueblo, surrounded by husks and stalks. There's also a large gourd with an opening in it. The head of the effigy of the Plumed Snake sticks out of this gourd. In a puppet-like manner, the snakes head will rise slowly to the center of the opening and make a roaring noise. (All this is done by someone manipulating it in the background behind the altar.) The shield bearers will then throw meal to the Plumed Snake effigy. In response to each offering the snake roars.  When the Sun God's footprints appear in the sand, everyone knows that he's been persuaded to return.

The name "Soyala" means Time of the Winter to those who have been given that name.

The effigy of the plumed snake that is in the kiva is painted black and has a tongue-like appendage protruding from it's mouth. This black snake symbolizes the evil influences that are driving the sun away.  So the assembled chiefs make their offerings of prayer and meal to this black Plumed Snake to try to persuade him not to "swallow" the sun, like he does when there is an eclipse.

The Hopis believe that the days are shorter in the winter and grow longer in the summer because it's driven away by hostile forces and then after a considerable battle it's persuaded to return.  So, without the Soyaluna ceremony the sun might never come back, bringing warmer weather that's needed for growing corn and other food. 

So, the bearers of the Sun Shield represent the Hopi Sun God, whose favors are crucial to the tribe's survival.

NCIDC Values (information)


Three Efforts of NCIDC:

1. Community/Tribal development, socially, educationally and economically

2. Support culture and language

3. Community based and driven health and wellness

Native Americans suffer disproportionate rates of social, economic and health problems.  Only through education, empowerment and asset development can these issues be addressed and overcome to promote the health and welfare of American Indian people, communities and Tribes.  We must succeed in successfully meeting these challenges to honor our past and to make a better world for our future generations.

We ask you to share your passion, knowledge and strength to help guide our work to achieve NCIDCs goals, objectives, mission and vision.  Please take the time to complete our community needs assessment and participate in the development of programs and services.  (NCIDC 2015 survey http://questionpro.com/t/AJ7VbZSbf1 

Making Money Stretch @ College (info)

It might seem weird to think of businesses vying for the attention of college kids — after all, students aren’t exactly flush with cash.

But businesses know that getting on your good side as you’re gaining your independence can result in a lot of money for them over time, starting in just a few years when you graduate, get your first full-time salary, and figure out how to manage your finances on your own. Plus, college students are tech-savvy and love social media, which makes them an asset for businesses.

Savvy execs know how to get your attention: discounts. So grab your student ID and your .edu email address and check out the many deals reserved just for students.


1. Movie Tickets

Movie theatre chains that offer student discounts include AMC Theatres (discounts on Thursdays), Cinemark (discounts vary by location) and Marcus Theatres ($5 Thursdays) — but independent theatres often have student discounts, too. Just call and ask.

2. The Arts

Students get discounted access to museums, including major ones such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Want to splurge on an evening at the opera, symphony, theatre or ballet? These organizations likely offer discounts, too, so make sure to check before you buy tickets.

3. Professional Sports

Some pro sports teams offer special student rates, or offer them on certain dates. Check their web sites for promotions before you go.Also, download some of these apps that help you save moneyon ticket purchases — they’re not student deals, but compare to see which discount saves you more cash.

Computers, Software and Education Stuff

4. Hardware

AppleMicrosoftDellSonyBest BuyHP and Lenovo all offer student discounts on their equipment, so there’s no reason to pay full price. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)

5. Software

If you need software, you’ll probably get a great deal at your campus bookstore. (Here’s an example of what those deals might look like.)

6. News

Students can save on digital and print subscriptions to newspapers and magazines such as The EconomistThe New York Times and the The Wall Street Journal.

7. Textbooks

Even as ebooks and tablets become the norm, plenty of your classes still require old-school, physical textbooks. Plenty of websites help you find great deals on used textbooks and re-sell your own when you’re finished. Barnes & Noble even has a textbook rental program.

Travel and Transportation

8. Lodging and Airfare

If you’re planning lots of travel during your college years, consider getting a student ID or student discount card (but remember, you can always try to use your regular student ID). Also, check out these websites that offer airfare and hotel discounts to students.

9. Car Rentals

Show your student ID at major car rental dealers such as BudgetAvis and Hertz to get up to 20% off (although some age restrictions may apply).

10. Buses, Trains and Planes

Amtrak and Greyhound offer student discounts (although the Greyhound discount requires the purchase of a Student Advantage card). Some public transit authorities, such as the MTA in Chicago, also offer reduced rates for students. If you’re planning a trip across Europe, a Eurailtrain pass is discounted for travelers under age 26.

11. Cars and Insurance

Buying a used car is likely your best bet. However, if you’re in the market for a new car, check into the General Motors student discount. Also, most major car insurance companies also offer deals for students, so make sure you compare them all to find the best rates.

Other Shopping

12. Upromise

If you need to save for upcoming tuition or already have student loans through Sallie Mae, you can join their Upromise shopping program to earn money toward those costs. You can even share your shopping link with friends and family to earn faster.

13. Amazon

Check out Amazon.com’s student program for free two-day shipping and special discounts on certain items.

14. Clothes and Retail

Plenty of clothing stores offer student discounts. Ann Taylor and J. Crew are just a few that can get you suited up for that first job or internship. Here’s a helpful list of student-friendly retail stores.

Banking, Budgets and Credit

15. Banking

If you need a new checking or savings account, you’ll find plenty of great bonus offers, and some are student-specific (Bank of AmericaCiti and Chase are a few banks that have programs just for students). However, pay attention to maintenance and overdraft fees — those will cost you more over the long term.

16. Credit Cards

Many banks offer credit cards just for students, but don’t be fooled by introductory offers. The regular interest rate is more important. (Here’s more info on how to choose a credit card.)

17. Budgeting

You Need a Budget budget software is free to college students, so there’s no excuse not to use it.

Freebies on Campus

18. Food

Are you paying for a campus meal plan? Make sure you get your money’s worth! Grab some fruit or cereal on your way out to take home for later. You’ll also find other free food on campus at open house events, public lectures and club activities.

19. Events

You probably already know about campus entertainment opportunities like pep rallies and intramural sports, but don’t forget that you also have access to free educational events and lectures.

20. Health and Fitness

You won’t get free access to that nice campus rec center after graduation, so make sure to use it now. Also, take advantage of your college’s health center services, along with its complimentary band-aids, condoms and tissues.

21. Promotional Stuff

Here’s a weird tip: most academic departments on campus have their own promotional pens — you can start quite a collection! Also keep your eyes open for opportunities for T-shirts and other spirit gear.

Remember: You’re only a college student for a few years. It never hurts to ask if a business offers a student discount, so always keep your ID handy.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite student discount? Did we miss any good ones?

Lindsay Luebbering is a freelance writer and former journalist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She helps people and businesses communicate in clear, consistent and compelling ways.

White House Update (information/news)

Good morning,

In this update, you will learn about some of the ways in which President Obama and his Administration continue to address the interests, concerns, and needs of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community.

Please visit us online to learn more about the White House Office of Public Engagement, theWhite House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the White House's work with the Native American community. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for updates!

Best regards,

Raina Thiele
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
The White House

P.S. -- If you're on Twitter, you can follow Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett at @VJ44, Public Engagement Director Paulette Aniskoff at @PAniskoff44, and Director of Specialty Media Shin Inouye at @Inouye44!

Department of the Interior Offers Nearly $100 Million to Reduce Fractionation of Tribal Lands

On August 28, the Department of the Interior announced that purchase offers have been sent to more than 4,000 individual landowners with fractional interests at the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana. These offers, totaling nearly $100 million, will give eligible landowners with interests in tribal priority tracts the opportunity to voluntarily sell their land to be held in trust for each tribe.

With these offers, Interior's Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) has sent more than 37,000 purchase offers to owners of fractionated interests. The Program has successfully concluded transactions worth nearly $97 million and has restored the equivalent of almost 265,000 acres of land to tribal governments.

The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period.

You can read the full press release here.

Click here to learn more about the Land Buy-Back Program.

Treasury Department Awards More Than $195 Million to Organizations Serving Low-Income and Native Communities

On August 26, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) awarded 185 organizations more than $195.4 million today through the fiscal year (FY) 2014 rounds of the Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI Program) and the Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program). These awards will enable Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Native CDFIs across the country to increase their lending and investments in low-income and economically distressed communities, including Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities (Native Communities). The awards announced will help these CDFIs and Native CDFIs build their capacity in order to better meet the investment and lending needs of the communities they serve.

Click here to learn more about the recently announced funding.

Department of Justice Releases Report to Congress on Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions

On August 26, the Department of Justice released its second report to Congress entitledIndian Country Investigations and Prosecutions, which provides a range of enforcement statistics. The Department of Justice is required to issue this report to comply with the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The report also serves to communicate the progress of the Attorney General's initiatives to reduce violent crime and strengthen tribal justice systems.

The report details the voluntary progress three tribes have made implementing the Violence Against Women Act of 2013. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon, and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington will be the first tribes in the nation to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over crimes of domestic and dating violence, regardless of the defendant's Indian or non-Indian Status.

Click here to read more about the report.

Click here to learn more about the Justice Department's efforts to increase public safety in Indian Country.

Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the Four Corners Conference

Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at the Four Corners Conference in Flagstaff, Arizona, August 26, 2014. (Photo by the U.S. Department of Justice)

On August 26, Associate Attorney General Tony West spoke at the Four Corners Conference. Mr. West detailed how the Indian community effectively confronted the reality of high rates of violence against Native women and girls in Indian country. Mr. West stated that the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act helped push forward legislative recommendations to help tribes protect Indian women from domestic violence. He detailed other initiatives and encouraged the Indian community to remain committed to this cause.

On the same day, Mr. West also announced the release of $3 million in grants to address violence against women in rural and tribal communities in the Bakken region. These grants are meant to increase local and tribal capacity to prosecute crimes of violence against women and provide services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.

Click here to read Associate Attorney General West's entire statement.

Click here to read more about the Bakken region grants.

Click here to learn more about the Justice Department's efforts to combat violence against women.

FEMA Releases a New Tribal Consultation Policy

On August 26, Administrator Craig Fugate announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Tribal Consultation Policy, which begins a new phase of engagement and collaboration with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. The new policy establishes a process for regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials on Agency actions that have tribal implications, and it emphasizes the importance of consulting with Indian Country.

Click here to read the full policy.

Click here to learn more about FEMA Tribal Affairs.

Department of the Interior Issues Secretarial Order Affirming American Indian Trust Responsibilities

Last month, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell issued a Secretarial Order reaffirming the Department of the Interior's trust responsibilities to federally recognized Indian tribes and individual Indian beneficiaries and providing guidance for Interior agencies in carrying out their obligations to them.

"This Order reaffirms the Department's obligations and demonstrates our continuing commitment to upholding the important federal trust responsibility for Indian Country," said Secretary Jewell, who chairs the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

Secretary of the Interior Jewell, Secretary of Education Duncan Visit Indian School in Maine

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan take a picture with students and faculty at the Beatrice Rafferty School in Perry, Maine, August 18, 2014. (Photo by the U.S. Department of the Interior)

In August, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the Beatrice Rafferty School in Perry, Maine on the Passamaquoddy Tribe's reservation to discuss ongoing educational reform initiatives to ensure students attending schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) receive a high-quality education delivered by tribal nations.

Click here to learn more about the Secretaries' trip to Maine.

EPA Issues Policy Supporting Tribal and Indigenous Communities

On July 25, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new policy supporting environmental justice for tribal and indigenous communities. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples, reinforcing the agency's commitment to work with tribes on a government-to-government basis when issues of environmental justice arise.

You can read the full policy here.

Berekely's Indigenous Peoples Day (information)


Berkeley replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day in 1992. The inaugural year was filled with ceremonies, and each year since then the city has celebrated with a free pow wow, organized by local Native and non-Indigenous residents. Held in Civic Center Park, the Indigenous Peoples Day Pow Wow and Indian Market has become an important annual event, where the local population can interact with and learn about Native culture and the Bay Area Indian community.

The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day was first proposed in 1977 by a delegation of Native nations to the United Nations-sponsored International Conference on Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas, held in Geneva, which passed that resolution. 

In July 1990, representatives from 120 Indian nations from every part of the Americas met in Quito, Ecuador in the First Continental Conference (Encuentro) on 500 Years of Indian Resistance. The conference was also attended by many human rights, peace, social justice, and environmental organizations. This was in preparation for the 500th anniversary of Native resistance to the European invasion of the Americas, 1492-1992. The Encuentro saw itself as fulfilling a prophesy that the Native nations would rise again “when the eagle of the north joined with the condor of the south.” At the suggestion of the Indigenous spiritual elders, the conference unanimously passed a resolution to transform Columbus Day, 1992, "into an occasion to strengthen our process of continental unity and struggle towards our liberation." Upon return, all the conference participants agreed to organize in their communities. While the U.S. and other governments were apparently trying to make it into a celebration of colonialism, Native peoples wanted to use the occasion to reveal the historical truths about the invasion and the consequent genocide and environmental destruction, to organize against its continuation today, and to celebrate Indigenous resistance.

A representative of Berkeley’s mayor attended the Encuentro, to gather information as to how the city should commemorate the Quincentenary. The U. S. Congress had chosen the Bay Area as the national focus for the planned “Quincentenary Jubilee” hoopla, with replicas of Columbus' ships scheduled to sail into the Golden Gate and land in a grand climax (eventually canceled). 

In the fall of 1990, a well-attended conference of Northern California Indians met at D-Q University in Davis, California, and organized the Bay Area Indian Alliance for counter-quincentennial planning. They resolved to "reaffirm October 12, 1992 as International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples." The final day of the conference was moved to Laney College in Oakland and opened to non-Native people. This conference organized Resistance 500, a broad coalition to coordinate 1992 activities with Indigenous leadership. The Resistance 500 coalition broke down into four committees revolving around different municipalities, planning local activities in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and the South Bay.   

At the request of the Berkeley committee of Resistance 500, the Berkeley City Council set up a task force to make recommendations regarding Quincentenary planning.  The Berkeley Resistence 500 Task Force investigated the historical record, and concluded that Columbus’s expedition was not a scientific “voyage of discovery,” but a scouting mission for a scheme of imperialism and conquest.

Columbus openly stated that he planned to conquer and colonize the lands he “discovered”: first the Caribbean islands and then mainland America. On his second voyage he brought the Spanish army with him, and proceded to do just that. The islands were populated by over a million Taino Indians, peaceful farmers and fishermen. Unable to find enough gold there to finance his schemes, Columbus captured thousands of Tainos and shipped them to the slave markets of Spain. The Tainos resisted with fishbone-tipped spears, but those were no match for artillery. Columbus demanded that each Taino pay a tribute of gold dust every three months, under penalty of amputation of the hands. In two years over a hundred thousand Tainos were dead, and the survivors were slaves, mostly in mines and plantations. Columbus personally invented European imperialism in the Americas and the transatlantic slave trade. He took personal leadership in acts that would today be called genocide.

Berkeley Resistence 500 reported those historical facts to the city council, and that Native peoples around the world had proposed replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. The task force recommended that Columbus should no longer be honored, but the city should instead commemorate the contributions of Native people and their resistance to the European invasion. With strong support from the community, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously that October 12th was henceforth to be Indigenous Peoples Day, to be commemorated annually on the nearest Saturday.

In subsequent years the municipality of Santa Cruz also began celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day. The State of South Dakota replaced Columbus Day with Native American Day. October 12 is now celebrated in Venezuela as the Day of Indigenous Resistance, ‘Día de la Resistencia Indígena’. The United Nations, at the request of Indigenous groups and led by Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú, declared International Indigenous Peoples Day. But instead of changing Columbus Day, as requested, the U.N. sidestepped the issue of Columbus by naming August 9th as International Day of Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Phoenix now celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day on March 12, relating to the Aztec calendar. However, in keeping with the original request of the Indigenous spiritual elders at the Continental Conference (Encuentro) on 500 Years of Indian Resistance, Berkeley has retained October 12 as Indigenous Peoples Day.

We invite you to come this year to the Berkeley Indigenous Peoples Day pow-wow, make or renew our friendship, enjoy Native American foods and crafts, share a wonderful and powerful experience. Ride the lifestream of the pow-wow highway with us, as Indigenous culture spreads its spiritual roots and breaks through into the mainstream of the multicultural society that is appearing before our eyes today here on Turtle Island.   

The Indigenous Peoples Committee works for social justice and human rights for Native Peoples. We promote the necessity of Indigenous wisdom for human survival in balance with the environment. We organize educational and cultural events publicizing Native struggles, including Indigenous Peoples Day Powwow and Indian Market annually on the Saturday nearest October 12th. 

Walk A Mile In My Redface (information/education/mascot)

Professor’s TEDx Talk about Native American Mascots Selected as Editor’s Pick by TED

Author: TEDxUOregon, Portland State University
Posted: June 12, 2014

This spring, Indigenous Nations Studies program Director and Professor Dr. Cornel Pewewardy spoke in Eugene as part of TEDxUOregon. Professor Pewewardy, who is a nationally recognized expert on Native American mascots in schools and in the media, gave a talk entitled, “Walk a Mile in My Redface: On Ending the Colonial in Schools, Sports Culture, Mass Media and Civic Life.” 

Professor Pewewardy’s talk was recently selected as an “Editor’s Pick” amongst thousands of talks for a feature on the TED website. 

Professor Pewewardy is Comanche-Kiowa and an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma. He was named “Teacher of the Year” by the National Indian Education Association in 2009 and was awarded the Carl A. Grant Multicultural Research Award by the National Association for Multicultural Education in 2011.

About TEDx
In the spirit of “Ideas Worth Spreading,” TEDx is a program of local, independently organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. A combination of live presenters and TED Talks videos help to spark deep conversation and connections in the community. Over the past five years, there have been more than 10,000 TEDx events in 167 countries.

American Indian Education Study Group (information/politics)

Notice of Consultation: The U.S. Department of the Interior, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education, will conduct a series of consultation sessions with Indian tribes to review and provide feedback on the draft recommendations recently prepared by the American Indian Education Study Group on the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) school system. Assistant Secretary - Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn released a Tribal Leader Letter on March 28, 2014 inviting tribal leaders to join the Study Group and provide comments on BIE reform.

 Important Information

  • Tribal Leader Letter: Please click HERE
  • Federal Register Notice: Please click HERE
  • Comment Deadline: June 2, 2014
  • Comment Submissions: Please email Jacquelyn Cheek, Special Assistant to the Director, at IAEDTC-CMTS@bia.gov
  • More Details: Please click HERE

Upcoming Meetings

  • Monday, April 28, 2014
    Loneman Day School
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)

    Oglala, South Dakota  
  • Wednesday, April 30, 2014
    Riverside Indian School
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)
    Anadarko, Oklahoma
  • Friday, May 2, 2014
    Muckleshoot School
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)
    Auburn, Washington 


  • Monday May 5, 2014
    Gila River Head Start Building
    9:00 am - 5:00 pm (All times local)
    Sacaton, Arizona