Select Page

Wipala Wiki, our Namesake

Wipala Wiki, our Namesake
Wipala Wiki 1878-1971

Wipala Wiki
1878-1971

Over a century ago in the village of Polacca, high on windswept First Mesa, a Hopi Snake Priest of the Flute Clan was presented with a son. The first-born son was named Wipala Wiki, meaning cactus fruit gravy. At birth, December 11, 1878, this son became the hereditary chief of the Antelope Clan of the Hopi People. Wipala’s early youth was spend as a typical Indian boy except for his schooling in the rituals, ceremonies and songs of the Snake Society. Sometime around five years of age Wipala was sent to the Government boarding school at Keems Canyon about twelve miles east of his home. This early exposure to formal education was brief and he soon returned to Polacca and resumed his training as a future Hopi Chief. About 1900 he renounced all claims to the chieftainship of his clan and traveled to Phoenix. Here he entered the local Indian School where he achieves an eighth grade education. Upon graduation Wipala entered military service, rising to the rank of Sergeant Major in the National Guard Indian Company. Part of his time in the military involved chasing Poncho Villa, the noted Mexican Bandit, around Southeastern Arizona. Following his military discharge Wipala had a variety of jobs, which included working for a printer, a carpet company, a construction crew and the Westward Ho Hotel in downtown Phoenix.

In 1929 a meeting took place that was to not only change Wipala’s life, but was to set the pattern for the balance of his years. George F. Miller, a young enthusiastic Scout Executive and Wipala met and formed a strong friendship that grew and culminated with these two becoming “Blood Brothers”. This meeting and ensuing friendship resulted in Wipala beginning his legendary career as an integral part of the Theodore Roosevelt Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Wipala’s first assignment was as an instructor of Indian lore at the Original Camp Geronimo. This was followed by his appointment as ranger at the new Heard Scout Pueblo in Phoenix. Perhaps the best remembered event in Wipala’s life occurred in 1937 when accompanied by the council delegation to the National Jamboree in Washington D.C. he marched in the parade as it was reviewed by President Franklin d. Roosevelt, and later had opportunity to meet and perform Indian Dances for the President.

When the Lodge was formed in 1950, the youth of that era went to Wipala and asked him if they could name the Lodge after him. In 1962 Wipala joined the Order of the Arrow and achieved his vigil in 1964. The Lodge bears his name today and it is believed prior to his passing in 1971 we had the only lodge in existence with a living namesake.