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What Does Groovy Tuuvi Have To Do With Tuba City?

What Does Groovy Tuuvi Have To Do With Tuba City?
December 20
04:42 2019

Who Was This Groovy Tuuvi?

 

You leave Page and drive along Route 89, on your way to Flagstaff. You’re about at the half-way point when you come to a turn-off for Tuba City.

Tuba City, you think to yourself. Maybe it’s where the tuba was invented? Or where the Tuba Hall of Fame is located?

Intrigued, you turn into Dora the Explorer and drive the 11 miles to Tuba City. But you’re not met with the booming sound of a tuba. In fact, the odds are against you even finding a tuba in Tuba City.

In fact, “city” might just be a little off in describing Tuba. The only nightlife consists of rascally “wabbits” being chased by not-so-wily coyotes.

Then you discover that Tuba City was named for a person, not a musical instrument. Now, it starts to make sense. Only it doesn’t, really.

Tuba City was named for a person, but that person was not named Tuba!

He was called Tuuvi.

Just who was this groovy Tuuvi that had an Arizona town named for him?

Born around 1810, Tuuvi was a 19th-century Hopi chief. His name was Tuuvi, but often-times misspelled as Toova or Tuvi. Early Mormon settlers in the area mispronounced it as “Tuba.”

Tuuvi – or Tuba – was the Rodney Dangerfield of the Hopi. He just couldn’t get no respect. No respect at all.

According to Hopi legend Tuuvi was born in Old Oraibi. As a child, he was called Woo Pah.

The reason Woo Pah left Old Oraibi seems a bit mysterious.

A Mormon missionary that was related to Tuuvi, claimed that a Mexican soldier tried to steal a beautiful Hopi maiden during the war with Mexico War. The soldier was forced to fight a duel with Tuuvi’s brother. They squared off using Bowie knives.

The soldier won but was then killed by Tuuvi, who used a spear.
Now the legend has Tuuvi being about 18 at the time. That really doesn’t jibe with the facts. Using a birthdate of 1810, Tuuvi would have been in his mid-30’s during the Mexican-American War.

Author Tony Hillerman

Even if the story meant the earlier Mexican conflict – which included the last stand at the Alamo – Tuuvi would have been in his mid-20’s.
Whatever his age – and the real cause of the dissension – Hopi tradition says that Woo Pah left Old Oraibi to “be at peace.”

From this point on Woo Pah was called Tuuvi, meaning “the outcast” or “the rejected one.”
Tuuvi and his wife, Pulaskaninki, settled at Moencopi (“Running Water”). Eventually, other Hopis came to join him. But Hopi legend says the people became lazy and did not tend their fields.
Saddened by this, Tuuvi was sitting alone when he saw an old man with a long, white beard approaching. The man claimed to bring a message from God, warning that the Hopis change their ways or they would die in a three-year famine that was to come.
The story sounds similar to the Biblical story of Joseph and the famine predicted in the king’s dreams. And, just as Joseph, wisely stored up grain against the bad times to come, so did Tuuvi.

In 1870 Tuuvi traveled to Utah to learn Mormon ways. He spent a year among the Mormons, even meeting Brigham Young in St. George, Utah.

In 1860 Tuuvi had invited Mormon friends to settle in Moenkopi, but they did not. However, some finally accepted the offer in 1873. The first permanent Mormon settlement in Arizona was established in 1875 – this would become Tuba City in 1878.
Tuuvi was baptized in 1876. He died in 1887 – as a respected member of the Mormon Church.
The Tuuvi story has a happy ending – for someone. Legend says that his wife eventually left him for a younger man.

The 2010 census found 8,611 residents, making Tuba City the second largest town in Coconino County – and the largest Navajo community. It is the headquarters for the Western Navajo Agency.
But, if you have a business in Tuba City, you better bring a watch. Or, better yet, bring two.

Time is an odd thing in Tuba City and you can walk out of one door and walk through another to find you’ve lost – or gained – and hour.
That’s because Tuba houses several federal, state and tribal offices. Arizona and the Hopi Tribe do not recognize Daylight Saving Time – but federal agencies and Navajo offices do!
Tuba City is located within the Painted Desert. It has made it into popular culture, with several scenes from 1969’s Easy Rider filmed there. In the Tony Hillerman novels, Sgt. Jim Chee is from the Tuba City Police office.
Tuba City even earned a mention in two books by the legendary western writer Louis L’Amour – The Key-Lock Man and Haunted Mesa.

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