FOUND! The Sipapuni!

by Jimmy Akin

in Other Religions

Sipapuni_1I’ve found the Sipapuni!

"What’s the Sipapuni?" you ask.

Well–that’s it! Right there! In the middle of the picture. The reddish round thing on the edge of the river. Has a little black dot in the center of it.

"Okay, but can I have a more informative answer?" you ask.

Sure. The Sipapuni is a natural formation on the Little Colorado River, about four miles upstream from where it intersects with the Colorado River. It’s in the Grand Canyon, though it’s just outside Grand Canyon National Park.

The Sipapuni is a travertine dome, which means that it’s a dome made of calcium carbonate (think: limestone)–usually layered–and formed from spring water, particularly the water of a hot spring. That black dot in the center of the Sipapuni is the spring, and the reason it’s a different color than the surrounding land is because of minerals in the spring water that leave orange and yellow deposits.

"Okay, but why is the Sipapuni important and why does it have a name–whereas so many travertine domes don’t?"

Because the Sipapuni is an enormously important location in the folklore of several American Indian tribes, particularly the Hopi and the Zuni.

According to both of these tribes, the Sipapuni is the location from which man emerged into this world. In other words, it’s their equivalent of the Garden of Eden.

According to both tribes (though the details vary), the beings that eventually emerged into the world went through a series of other worlds before climbing up out of the Sipapuni into ours.

In Hopi folklore, this is the fourth world. Things weren’t going so good in the third world, and so they found a way to climb up into a new, largely uninhabited world and became the human race.

In Zuni folklore, humans passed through a series of four caves before emerging through the Sipapuni, making this the fifth world.

Other tribes also believe that humans emerged from a site in the Grand Canyon but do not identify it with the Sipapuni, claiming that the site has been lost.

The idea that a body of people have an identifiable Eden that you can go see with your own eyes (though they don’t want you to do that since the site is considered sacred) is something I find fascinating.

If the early part of the book of Genesis were to be taken literally, you could get a rough fix on Eden’s location, but not with this kind of precision–and you certainly can’t find it today with Google’s satellite imagery.




Having discussed where Hopi and Zuni Eden is, sometime soon I’ll have to tell you about where Zuni Heaven is.

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Brian Emmick December 13, 2005 at 11:22 am

you managed to make a post that combines geology, satellite technology, ancient religion, and anthropology… THIS IS NUTZ!
that’s why its cool.

Quo Vadis December 13, 2005 at 9:35 pm

If you got to the cliffhouse ruins in Mesa Verde or elsewhere they have Kivas which were cerimonial underground rooms. In each room on the floor is a hole that also called a Sipapuni. Which as you noted was beleived to be a portal to the otherworld.

David December 14, 2005 at 12:56 pm

What a great story! The Objiwe (aka Chippewa) of the upper peninsula of Michigan near GitcheeGumee (aka Lake Superior) believe that the earth was brought into existence when a turtle brought it on its back out of the netherworld, onto which the “Creator” created life as we know it. The turtle is revered as one of the (animal clans) of tribal life today. My mother is of (French and) Ojibwe descent, but my father is all Finnish, making us “Finndians” as the joke goes among us “UPers”. I wonder if research might also locate such a site in Ojibwe lore.
I am from Sault Ste. Marie, founded by St. Isaac Jogues, a martyr to the Mohawks whom he tried to convert in ~ 1500’s (the site of “his” shrine in mid-NY state). In French, Sault Ste. Marie means Falls of St. Mary, from the prominent locks site (between lakes Huron and Superior) which now replace the former 23-foot-drop falls on the St. Mary’s River. altho there is a prominent rapids area still “untamed” in the river next to the locks. There is a local church called St. Isaac Jogues in the “Soo” (local shorthand). Watch those crossword puzzles for a clue that French for falls is “sault”.
from David now near Detroit

Shoes by categories January 26, 2006 at 11:22 am

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Shoes generally fall into one of the following categories: dress shoes, casual shoes, work shoes, snow shoes, athletic shoes…

Gary David February 4, 2006 at 3:26 pm

A friend directed me to your site after reading about this Hopi sacred area in my book The Orion Zone: Ancient Star Cities of the American Southwest. (See web site
Great satellite photo of the Sipapuni. I would suggest, though, that you warn folks who want to try to hike there that it is dangerous territory. Especially in the summer during monsoon season, flash floods are a regular occurence. A couple years ago a few experienced hikers were swept away and drowned in this area.
Gary David
Chino Valley, Arizona

Adam Collet April 5, 2006 at 1:06 am

Well, here’s a little peice of relevant Mormon doctrine to interest you. Are you ready? We beleive we know roughly where the Garden of Eden was, and it is not what you’d expect. As a preface, we beleive the river names mentioned were adopted later by the people of that area – what I mean is, those rivers were later named after the rivers described in the Genesis account. So where to we beleive it was? America – in fact, the USA. I know, how selfish of us. Oh well. Near a place we call Adam-Ondi-Ahman, which we beleive to be the place Adam and Eve dwelled after being booted out. The one comfort I can give you about it being in America is that it wasn’t America at the time. We beleive that before the time of Peleg (do some Genesis research), the Earth was in the state of a sort of Pangea. Not quite the same as what science tells us, but all one mass at any rate. Well, just thought you’d want to know :)

Joseph January 29, 2008 at 11:08 pm

Mormons don’t believe in Pangea at the time of Adam. It’s the most ludicrous myth that is spread by people who pretend to understand science. Peleg was named because his birth coincided with the tower of babel story.

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