This colorized postcard shows a group of Hopi dancers performing for guests in 1902.

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The Fifth World Order

The Hopi are a tribe of Native Americans indigenous to northeastern Arizona and, as with pretty much every other culture, the tribe has its own religious ideas about the world's beginning and end. Like other ancient systems of belief, the tribe also deals in the idea of cyclical rather than linear time. In other words, time as they perceive it continually loops back around and hits the same crucial points, rather than stretching on in a single line.

As part of this, the Hopi believe that the world we live in experiences a cycle of destruction and rebirth. In addition, we live in the fourth incarnation of this world. Eventually, destruction will bring about its end so that a fifth world can come into being, the tribe says. Before this happens, however, a number of things have to occur -- such as the prophesied iron snakes crisscrossing the land. Does that mean train tracks? Does it mean giant robot snakes? Conspiracy theorists choose to interpret it all as meaning 2012 is the year the Hopi apocalypse takes place.

How to survive: Lucky for us, Hopi forecasts seem to indicate that we might get to travel into the fifth world on a boat -- which probably means flooding, right? In the event of a flood, FEMA recommends you move to higher ground, avoid flood-prone areas and remember that a mere 6 inches (15 centimeters) of water is enough to cause loss of control and stalling in most vehicles.

What else might 2012 throw at us? Get ready for a pole shift.