Hopi “Flying Shields” Over Arizona
Gary A. David

Ever since pilot Kenneth Arnold sighted nine flat disks erratically skipping across the sky near Mount Rainer in 1947, flying saucers have been firmly fixed in modern consciousness. From the small silver spacecraft in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to the mothership in “Independence Day,” the round aerial machine has become one of the primary icons of our age. Flying vehicles could conceivably come in many varieties but the most common seem to be disk- shaped.

This phenomenon is, of course, not restricted to the present. Shortly after the Arnold report and the infamous Roswell UFO crash, the spring 1948 issue of Fate magazine carried an article by a Navajo named Oga-Make.

“Most of you who read this are probably white men of a blood only a century or two out of Europe. You speak in your papers of the Flying Saucers or Mystery Ships as something new, and strangely typical of the twentieth century. How could you but think otherwise? Yet if you had red skin, and were of a blood which had been born and bred of the land for untold thousands of years, you would know this is not true. You would know that your ancestors living in these mountains and upon these prairies for numberless generations, had seen these ships before, and had passed down the story in the legends which are the unwritten history of your people.”1

Legends from the ancient Hopi Indians also abound with what they call magical flying shields. Although this northern Arizona tribe has traditionally been known as the People of Peace, the warrior shield could be an apt analogy because in Hopi culture the concept of war is inexplicably connected to the stars.

The traditional term used for flying saucer is paatuwvota. Since the Hopi word paa means water, paatuwvota possibly refers to the expanding concentric rings in a lake or pool. This might be a metaphorical description for the way the strange airborne device appears to operate. For a desert people like the Hopi, water is synonymous with wonder—perhaps the type evoked by witnessing these spacecraft.

Many flying shields are piloted by entities commonly called kachinas. (The more correct spelling of the Hopi term is katsinam, plural of katsina.) Like angels, these beneficent creatures are spirit messengers that act as intermediaries for gods and humans. Although their multicolored masks come in endless varieties, some resemble space helmets.


Aholi Kachina doll, which wears a cloak of many colors representing flowers, the brightness of summer, and germination.

One handsome kachina named Pavayoykyasi is known to sprinkle the plants with life-giving morning dew. His name, in fact, literally means “moisture tablet.” (Again, in the desert, moisture always means amazement.) This finely dressed figure wears an embroidered kilt, a colorful sash, and eagle down feathers in his hair. He also carries a wand in his hand and some sort of backpack.

He refers to his aircraft as “…his pet, a magic flying shield. The shield has two parts, with the lower one spinning and the upper one remaining still. Climbing aboard, Pavayoykyasi rose up into the air and flew off.”2Because it automatically knew the way to his house, the craft either may have been partially sentient or it employed an ancient version of GPS technology. The use of the term “pet” also implies some sort of flying animal. On the other hand, the description of the lower part spinning and the upper part stationary suggests a machine. Perhaps it was a hybrid of organic and manufactured, similar to Philip Corso’s account of the saucers in The Day After Roswell.

A very common motif in Hopi legends is one where a kachina mates with a maiden. This echoes the Watchers, the biblical fallen angels who had sexual intercourse with human women in order to produce the giants known as the Nephilim. “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”3

Giants, incidentally, also play a large part in Hopi culture and frequently show up at kachina dances. At one dance I witnessed at the Third Mesa village of Oraibi, for instance, a Hu Kachina, or Ogre, walked within a few feet of me into the plaza, carrying a rusty, foot-long butcher knife.

His bulging eyes and fierce teeth even today present a terrifying reminder of the persistent role of giants in the Hopi world.


Hu Kachina doll

Hu is the name of the Hopi whipper kachina that comes to bring rain to the desert. This ogre has a black mask, goggle eyes, fangs and lolling tongue. It carries a yucca whip in each hand. Sometimes it holds a knife in one hand and a whip in the other.

Hu is also one of the names for the Sphinx at Giza. It acts as guardian of the horizon in the same way that its Hopi namesake is guardian of the kachina dance. Hu is additionally known as the Egyptian god of Taste, springing from the blood of Ra’s phallus. Hu literally means bad or wicked, and naked, as well as to grieve, to beat, to crush, and to slay. Huhu is the primeval watery mass whence came everything. In Egyptian, Hu can also mean rain.

In their classic book Hamlet’s Mill, Giorgio De Santillana and Hertha von Dechend state that Humeri is an antiquated Latin word for the constellation Orion, which the Hebrews call Gibbor, or Giant. Humeri is also the plural of humerus, the long bone between the shoulder and the elbow.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships off the shoulder of Orion…” –Roy Batty, a “replicant” in the movie Blade Runner

One example of the unusual union of spirit messenger and Hopi mortal involves an unnamed kachina who took a young woman from Oraibi to the Land of the Cloud People. The girl’s father had recently died, causing a hardship for the family. The Cloud People had apparently been watching her and her mother and decided that the kachina should marry her. One day the girl was in the fields picking squash blossoms when “…she heard a roaring sound, a hissing noise like wind coming through a small place, and she wondered what it was.” This implies some sort of mechanism rather than either an organic or a metaphysical means of transport. Then she saw the approaching kachina, who, like the previous one mentioned, was good looking with a beautiful kilt and sash and a brightly painted body. He said he wished to marry her and told her he would take her to his home tomorrow. The next morning he returned to the same field.

“He took her by the hand and walked with her over the hill, and she saw there was something there, something round, and they went straight for the thing and got into it. And when they did that, he did something and there was a big roar and soon they were off the ground. The thing they were in seemed to be spinning, and it streaked off. After a while he said, ‘We are here.’ They were down on the ground again and the roaring and hissing sound stopped. He took her up to his village, to his home. When they got to his house his mother and father were very happy that he had found the girl they had spoken of.”4

Another kind of aerial device is called a tawiya, or “gourd,” which consists of two halves. After climbing aboard the rider closes the upper half and installs a tightly stretched sinew between the bottom of the gourd and the stem button. The rider then twists the sinew between his palms and the flying machine lifts off, making a humming noise.5 “Hopis say that the gourd is a magic vehicle used by those who have power to use it for travel—something like a spacecraft or flying saucer.”6

Hopi narratives additionally describe spinning trays that can transport various beings. A type of wicker plaque called a sooyungyapu has a star design woven on it, thus suggesting its origin. These woven artifacts are perhaps mimetic of the aerial craft.


Hopi woman making star plaques at Shungopovi, Second Mesa, 1901, photograph by A. C. Vroman.

One myth incorporating this vehicle describes two virginal sisters from Kawàyka’a (Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico) who constantly resisted the advances of many young suitors in their village. They both finally agreed to marry Tókila, the Night. After going outside the village with him, they found a large póta, or coiled plaque.

“So they all took a place on the tray, whereupon they were lifted up and carried through the air to Nuwátok’aovi [also spelled Nuvatukya’ovi, the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona], where they entered a deep canyon or gulch. Here the Night lived. When they came into the house they saw in an inner room a great many human bones. They were the remains of many women whom the Night had stolen in the village, and with whom he had lived a while and then, as soon as they became pregnant, had thrown them into the room to perish.”7

In this case the entity that piloted the flying shield turned out to be malicious rather than benevolent. Perhaps “Night” is merely the allegorical name for this murderous creature of unknown origin.

In my previous book Eye of the Phoenix: Mysterious Visions and Secrets of the American Southwest (Adventures Unlimited Press, 2008), I describe, on the other hand, the compassionate Hopi sky god named Sotuknang. His face “shone like a star” and his costume “glittered like icicles.” Interpreted metaphysically, this may refer to the glistening aura of a ghostly inter- dimensional being. On a physical level, it may point to some sort of electrically lit helmet and a silvery or metallic spacesuit.


This petroglyph showing Sotuknang is located on the cliff below the village of Walpi on First Mesa. His face is a crescent moon; above his head is a four-pointed star. His right hand holds a cloud symbol; his left hand holds lightning. Above the lightning is a symbol for either the four directions or Orion.

As a primary deity in the Hopi pantheon, Sotuknang had been influencing the people since the beginning of their current epoch on earth they call the Fourth World. In one tale he rescues a young pair of boy-and-girl twins from a deluge, which, by the way, eventually destroyed the Third World. He takes them up in his flying shield from which they could see the landscape for many miles around.

A craft of this sort would certainly allow the perspective by which one could gauge the accuracy of a star correlation on the ground—that is, the pattern of a constellation such as Orion spread out upon the Arizona desert. (See my book The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest, Adventures Unlimited Press, 2006.) From 175 miles above the earth most of northern Arizona can be seen, from Grand Canyon in the west to Canyon de Chelly in the east, and from Tsegi Canyon in the north near the Utah/Arizona border to the Little Colorado River in the south near the modern town of Winslow. (This altitude is a little less than the lowest altitude for the space shuttle in orbit.)

Like the space flights of Ezekiel or Enoch, a ride on a flying shield would reveal the panorama of the sky-earth correlation and confirm the hermetic maxim “As above, so below.”


The celestial template of Orion is projected on the high desert of Arizona. A Hopi ruin site or village corresponds to each major star in the constellation. The belt stars correspond to Third, Second, and First Mesas. The distance between Betatakin and Canyon de Chelly is slightly stretched in relation to the constellation—about twelve miles. The distance between Walnut Canyon and Homol’ovi is also stretched—about ten miles. (See my book The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest for a full description.)

In August of 1970 a rash of UFO sightings occurred in the skies over Prescott, Arizona. Over a two-week period many hundreds of flying saucers were seen by hundreds of witnesses. This prompted Chief Dan Katchongva of the Hopi Sun Clan, his councilor, and an interpreter to travel 7 southwest about one hundred and twenty-five miles from his village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa to Prescott to learn more of the event.

He described to the Prescott Courier an ancient petroglyph near the village of Mishongnovi on Second Mesa that depicts a dome-shaped object. “‘We believe other planets are inhabited and that our prayers are heard there,’ he said. ‘The arrow on which the dome-shaped object rests, stands for travel through space,’ Katchongva said in explaining the rock carving. ‘The Hopi maiden on the dome-shape (drawing) represents purity. Those Hopi who survive Purification Day will travel to other planets. We, the faithful Hopi, have seen the ships and know they are true,’ he said.”8 As we have seen, the purity of Hopi maidens throughout the ages has attracted the high-flying kachinas.

Paul Solem, a non-Indian expert on Hopi prophecy and Mormon doctrine, was also key figure during the Prescott sightings. He even claimed to attract the flying saucers by telepathically communicating with them. In one instance he took a group of people outside and then began to mentally focus on extraterrestrial contact. He soon exclaimed: “They are here! I can’t see them, but I know they are here. One just said, ‘We’re here, Paul!’ There are several people in the saucer. I can hear them talking.” After a few minutes a star-like UFO appeared, halted, then moved first in one direction and then the other.

He believed the entities in the spacecraft were angelic and kind, like the Hopi kachinas, and hailed from the planet Venus. He said that they had shoulder-length hair neatly cut and their voices were musical and androgynous. This sounds like what we would typically describe today as a Nordic ET. He even received the space travelers’ proclamations, which he transcribed:

“We come to lend credence and as a sign or token that the Hopi prophecy was of a divine nature. Great sorrow and fear will be coming to this planet very soon and few will escape it. Our leader as spoken of in Hopi prophecy is already here (on Earth) in mortality and is known as the Apostle John (the same as in the New Testament). The white brother shall be introduced by a huge fire and the Earth shall quake at his arrival. We are of the 10 lost tribes and we will return several nights unless there is contempt for us.”9

Local UFO researcher Dan Carlson said that the area around Prescott had been a magnet for many of the early important though controversial figures in the field of ufology, including George Adamski, Daniel Fry, George Van Tassel, as well as former Prescott residents Truman Bethurum and George Hunt Williamson. “If one is to believe Hopi prophecy,” Carlson remarked, “the reasons the saucers are sighted here most often and contactors seem to be attracted here is that this is a chosen land. Prescott is within the Hopi circle of sacred ground where the beings from another world are supposed to bring about prophecy.”10

Chief Katchongva had been one of the elders most active in bringing the knowledge of Hopi legends and prophecies of End Times to the world at large.11 He believed that these persistent UFO visitations were among the signs and omens that the Fourth World is about to end. Apparently on the last day of his visit to Prescott an unidentified spacecraft flew in very low— about eight hundred feet.12

Chief Katchongva passed away in 1972 at age 107 under some rather strange circumstances. “When Dan Katchongva ‘died’, his body was never found. He was last seen walking up a small valley where a UFO had just been seen.”13


Thumb Butte in Prescott, Arizona, is a miniature version of Devils Tower, Wyoming, which was featured in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Like the larger geological uplift, it may serve as a beacon for extraterrestrial craft. According to Mrs. Irene Wood during the 1970 Prescott sightings: “…we saw a huge brilliant mass of light looking as big as three moons coming very fast over Thumb Butte. It seemed almost over Prescott and went to the east. It halted and a huge mass
detached itself and fell straight down behind the hills.”14 Was this a UFO or merely a huge meteor?

A much more recent sighting of a flying shield occurred on the evening of January 24th , 2007, about fifty miles south of Third Mesa. Sean and Deanna Dover were driving east toward their hometown of Leupp, Arizona, when they spotted a triangular-shaped craft with three lights on it flying an estimated mile-and-a-half above them. The object was moving too fast to be an airplane and was not making any noise whatsoever.

Returning home, they got some night vision equipment that Sean’s father owned as a Navajo Nation Police Ranger. That’s when they saw (and heard) two jets flying from the southwest intercept the completely silent object, which managed to evade these aircraft. Eventually about thirty witnesses in the small, somewhat isolated town saw the UFO circle the area a total of fifteen times over a period of almost an hour before it headed southeast toward Winslow.

They all said the object was triangular with three or four tiers and a pulsating light positioned on a sphere on its underside. A local fifth grade teacher claimed the craft emitted a yellow light and was about twice the size of the school gymnasium.

This amazing sighting, however, did not at all surprise Sean Dover. “I believe that it really was a UFO because of my family’s history. I’ve seen [UFO’s] too many times to remember,” Sean said. “Leupp is a hot spot for UFO’s.”15

The historic relationship between flying shields and the Native Americans of Arizona has become a part of a long tradition. Legends of ancient star beings that pilot spacecraft and sometimes mate with the indigenous people are an accepted fact for the native peoples, not a matter of dispute. Perhaps we should start listening to the deep wisdom and wide experience that the original inhabitants of this continent possess. They’ve been on the case for ages.


1. Fate magazine article quoted at: www.burlingtonnews.net/kivas.

2. Michael Lomatuway’ma, Lorena Lomatuway’ma, and Sidney Namingha, Jr., Hopi Ruin Legends, collected by Ekkehart Malotki (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska, 1993), p. 307.

3. Genesis 6:4

4. Harold Courlander, Hopi Voices: Recollections, Traditions, and Narratives of the Hopi Indians (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1982), pp. 200-202.

5. Ekkehart Malotki, Hopi Stories of Witchcraft, Shamanism, and Magic (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska, 2001), p. xl.

6. Ekkehart Malotki, editor, Hopi Dictionary: A Hopi-English Dictionary of the Third Mesa Dialect (Tucson, Arizona: The University of Arizona Press, 1998), p. 587.

7. H. R. Voth, Traditions of the Hopi, Field Columbian Museum Anthropological Publication, Vol. VIII, 1905, www.sacred-texts.com/nam/hopi/toth/toth042.htm#fn_99.

8. www.dreamscape.com/morgana/iapetus.htm and http://members.tripod.com/~drunken_bean/arizona.html.

9. Prescott Courier, Sunday, August 9, 1970.

10. Prescott Courier, Tuesday, August 11, 1970.

11. www.hopiland.net/prophecy/katch-1.htm.

12. Prescott Courier, Tuesday, August 18, 1970.

13. www.wovoca.com/occult-ufo-hopi-sun-chief-dan-katchongva-confirms-existence-of-flying- saucers.htm

14. Prescott Courier, Friday, August 21, 1970.

15. www.navajohopiobserver.com/main.asp?SectionID=35&SubSectionID=47&ArticleID=5477 and www.nuforc.org/webreports/055/S55002.html.


Gary A. David

Gary A. David is an archaeo-astronomer and independent researcher who has studied Southwestern archaeological ruins and rock art for over twenty-five years. His books about the Hopi and other ancestral Pueblo cultures of Arizona and New Mexico include:

These are all available from Adventures Unlimited Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. His most recent book titled Mirrors of Orion—Star Knowledge of the Ancient World was released by CreateSpace.

Mr. David earned a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Colorado, and he is a former college professor. He is also a poet, with numerous volumes published, and a professional lead guitarist and vocalist.

His articles or interviews have appeared in many magazines, including: Ancient American, Atlantis Rising, Fate, Fenix (Italy), Mysteries (Greece), Erich von Däniken’s Sagenhafte Zeiten (or “Legendary Times”), UFO, and  World Explorer. His work has also been featured in both of the Graham Hancock Readers and in Underground! The Disinformation Guide to Ancient Civilizations, Astonishing Archaeology and Hidden History.

Gary continues to give presentations, including: Ancient Mysteries International Conferences (AMI), Conference for Precession and Ancient Knowledge (CPAK), Verde Valley Archaeology Society, and many branches of Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).

He had given international radio interviews, including Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, Jeff Rense, Whitley Strieber’s Dreamland, Paracast, and many others.

He recently appeared on the History Channel’s TV series: Ancient Aliens, Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, The Coming Apocalypse, as well as on both Japanese and Russian TV programs.
His website is: www.theorionzone.com.

Gary, his wife, and an aging cat live together in Chino Valley, Arizona, where the skies are still relatively pristine.


The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest


Eye of the Phoenix: Mysterious Visions and Secrets in the American Southwest


The Kivas of Heaven: Ancient Hopi Starlore


Star Shrines and Earthworks of the Desert Southwest


Watchers Talk with Mr. Gary A. David 





Independent Researcher.

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