The Ant People of the Hopi

The Ant People of the Hopi

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The Hopi Indians have lived on the high desert of northern Arizona for thousands of years. This barren but beautiful landscape was the place where Hopi gods directed them to build a number villages made up of pueblos—what we today would call stone apartment complexes. Here the Hopi managed to flourish by simply growing corn, beans, and squash with very little rainfall and almost no irrigation.

One of the most intriguing Hopi legends involves the Ant People, who were crucial to the survival of the Hopi—not just once but twice. The so-called “First World” (or world-age) was apparently destroyed by fire—possibly some sort of volcanism, asteroid strike, or coronal mass ejection from the sun. The Second World was destroyed by ice—Ice Age glaciers or a pole shift. During these two global cataclysms, the virtuous members of the Hopi tribe were guided by an odd-shaped cloud during the day and a moving star at night that led them to the sky god named Sotuknang, who finally took them to the Ant People—in Hopi, Anu Sinom. The Ant People then escorted the Hopi into subterranean caves where they found refuge and sustenance.  

In this legend the Ant People are portrayed as generous and industrious, giving the Hopi food when supplies ran short and teaching them the merits of food storage. In fact, another legend says that the reason why the ants have such thin waists today is because they once deprived themselves of provisions in order to feed the Hopi.

Round kiva in New Mexico, built by descendants of the ancient Hopi

The constellation Orion also has a thin waist. When Orion dominates the winter skies, the ants are deep in their small underground hills. These structures are similar in form to the Hopi kivas, which are subterranean communal prayer chambers. Coincidentally the Sanskrit word  ki means “ant hill” and va means “dwelling.” Each February inside their kivas the Hopi perform the Bean Sprouting Ceremony, or Bean Dance, called Powamu. During this time the fires are continuously kept ablaze, turning these structures into superb hot houses. The ritual commemorates a time when the Anu Sinom taught the Hopi how to sprout beans inside caverns in order to survive.

It is interesting to note that the Babylonian sky god was named Anu. The Hopi word for “ant” is also anu, and the Hopi root word naki means “friends.” Thus, the Hopi Anu-naki, or “ant friends,” may have been the same as the Sumerian Annunaki—the beings who once came to Earth from the heavens.  

The Ant People of the Hopi

Hopi rock carvings of the Ant People, northern Arizona

The Ant People may have also lived in ancient Egypt. Akhenaten, the 18th Dynasty pharaoh who ruled from 1351–1334 BC, is shown in some depictions with an elongated skull like the shape of an ant’s head. His almond-shaped eyes and neck are like the ant’s, and either the serpent or the vulture on his uraeus resembles the ant’s mandibles. He also has spindly arms and legs like those of the ant, and his upper body resembles the ant’s thorax while his lower body mirrors the ant’s abdomen. Akhenaten’s body type can be specifically compared to the Pharaoh Ant (Momomorium pharaonis), which originated in West Africa. It also has an elongated head, a yellow to reddish brown body, and a darker abdomen with a stinger.

Perhaps it is more than a coincidence that the Egyptian word sahu means “stars of Orion,” whereas the Hopi word sohu means “star,” the most important of which are those in the constellation Orion. To read more on the Ant People and the Hopi connection to ancient Egypt, see my most recent book Star Shrines and Earthworks of the Desert Southwest.

By Gary A. David

Comments

Ant people...hmm...

archaeologyrocks

This is something I have resarche for a while now and I still can't put together any logical conclusin as to how, why, or what the ant people are. Nothing makes sense to me as to a visual assimilation, or anything else. The only thing that slightly makes sense is if the hopi came from the out of the ground like ants would giving them the monocure ant people. I have heard of a native american belief that there tribe came out from the ground but this is only one instane and for me it is not enough to draw a logical conclusion.

I guess it is posible that the ant people couild visually represent those of Africa. I have heard credible theories that people from Europ may have came to America at the same time as the Clovis poeple arriving here from Asia. People have been traveling the world for longer than we think.

Tsurugi's picture

How interesting that during the two periods of cataclysmic destruction, the Hopi say they were guided to the Ant People and safety by following "an odd shaped cloud" by day and a "moving star" at night.
In the biblical Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan, they were said to be guided through the desert by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night.

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