Todd Compton excerpt, Handclasp and Embrace as Tokens of Recognition

From Todd Compton, “The Handclasp and Embrace as Tokens of Recognition” in BSAF 1:611-643, ft. 54.

Frank Waters, The Book of the Hopi (New York: Viking Press, 1963), 252, writes that Hopi tradition records the original meeting of Hopis and Spaniards, saying “that Tovar and his men were conducted to Oraibi. They were met by all the clan chiefs at Tawtoma, as prescribed by prophecy, where four lines of sacred meal were drawn. The Bear Clan leader stepped up to the barrier and extended his hand, palm up, to the leader of the white men. If he was indeed the true Pahana, the Hopis knew he would extend his own hand, palm down, and clasp the Bear Clan leader’s hand to form the nakwach, the ancient symbol of brotherhood. Tovar instead curtly commanded one of his men to drop a gift into the Bear chief’s hand, believing that the Indian wanted a present of some kind. Instantly all the Hopi chiefs knew that Pahana had forgotten the ancient agreement made between their peoples at the time of their separation. Nevertheless, the Spaniards were escorted up to Oraibi, fed and quartered, and the agreement explained to them. It was understood that when the two were finally reconciled, each would correct the other’s laws and faults; they would live side by side and share in common all the riches of the land and join their faiths in one religion that would establish the truth of life in a spirit of universal brotherhood. The Spaniards did not understand, and having found no gold, they soon departed.” [Cf. 151, 344: nakwa is a mark of identification; nakwach is a symbol of brotherhood.]

Hugh Nibley’s interpretation of this story:

-In 1540 when Pedro de Tovar came up to Bear Chief, who was standing to greet him on the rise at Old Oraibi, the chief reached out his hand to establish the visitor’s identity by offering him the sacred handclasp, the nachwach—was he really the promised White Brother? Naturally, the Spaniard, who had come looking for gold and nothing else, thought he was asking for money and placed a gold coin in his hand. Have you any signs or tokens? asked the chief. Yes, I have money, replied the visitor. From that moment the Hopis knew it was not the one they were looking for, and to this day they have never been converted to Christianity. We are most fortunate in possessing Satan’s game-plan, which he gave away in a fit of temper in the Garden of Eden. The perennial source of wealth, the treasures of the earth, are to be controlled by the convenient symbols of a money economy, gold and silver; these are used to buy up kings and presidents, armies and navies, popes and priests. They are controlled by “secret combinations, to get power and gain” (Ether 8:22; cf. 8:18-19), and the result is rule by violence. Adam rejected the plan, but Cain bought into it, and so became “master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain” (Moses 5:31)—the great design which at last is nearing fulfillment in our day of converting all living things into marketable commodities.

Hugh Nibley, Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints (FARMS/Deseret Book): p.98-99.

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