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Hopi & Apache Views on Death

The Hopi and the Apache, two Indian tribes of the American Southwest, have very different views on death and dying. The Hopi believe there is a close reciprocal relationship between the living and the dead. This reciprocity is expressed in their ceremonies, as well as in their agricultural activities. They believe that death leads to rebirth (Thompson & Joseph, 1965, p. 42). In contrast, the Apaches believe that death is a terrifying thing. Being visited by ghosts of the dead is one of their great fears, so they move their settlements away from their dead (Baldwin, 1965, p. 96).

Implicit in the Hopi configuration of culture is an integrated theory of the universe by which the Hopi attempt to organize their world in order to cope with their life problems and obtain some degree of security in a highly hazardous environment. They conceive of the world as an absolute, ordered system functioning under a definite set of rules, which are known to them--and to them alone. In accordance with these rules they believe they can, through regulating their behavior, emotions and thoughts in a prescribed manner, exercise a measure of control over their environment (Thompson & Joseph, 1965, p. 36).

Theoretically, according to the Hopi, all phenomena, natural and supernatural, living and dead--including man, animals, plants, the earth, sun, moon and clouds, the ancestors and the spirits--are interrelated and mutually dependent through the underlying dynamic principle of the universe--which they call the law of reciprocity. This law implies the concept of immanent or cosmic justice. The emphasis is not, however, on the idea of rewards and punishment or on punishments alone, but on the mutual exchange of essentially equivalent but not identical values according to fixed traditional patterns, in the interests of the common welfare. Man, the elements, animals, plants, and the supernatural cooperate in an orderly fashion, by means of a com...

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Hopi & Apache Views on Death. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:03, March 19, 2019, from