Prayer in Motion - Page 2
Experiencing the Kachina
The kachina dances have been going on for centuries in this same place. Hopis have lived in their current lands for a millennium, and one of their villages, Oraibi, is probably the oldest continuously inhabited place on the continent. Descendants of the Anasazi (those mysterious folk who built the astonishing ruins in the Southwest such as Mesa Verde), the Hopis have always grown a plenitude of corn, beans, and squash in their fields on the desert below. Corn is the central metaphor as well for life and (at season's end) death too. And for corn to grow in the sandy, dry washes below, the Hopis will always need to invite those benevolent spirits, the kachinas, into their villages.
For an outsider to be present at these awesome ceremonies is, of course, a privilegeand a privilege that is not always extended. Many Hopis believe that outside visitors should be present at these affairs, since the more prayers being offered, the greater the likelihood of rain. But from time to time, some visitors forget that these are religious ceremonies and fail to act as they probably would in their own churches. Photographing, sketching, tape recording are all expressly forbidden on the entire Hopi reservation and occasionally some people try to sneak pictures of the kachinas, or engage in loud or disrespectful talk or otherwise overlook the simple rules of common courtesy. As a result, sometimes and in some villages, the religious leaders will feel the need to close their ceremonies to outsiders.
Such closings are generally unpredictable; it is wise to call ahead to find out. It is also wise to call ahead by several weeks or even months to make reservations in the Hopi Cultural Center (which includes a motel) or the campgrounds there. Otherwise, there are accommodations in Flagstaff or Winslow, both about an hour and a half away.
There are numerous Hopi sites for visiting and shopping. Don't miss the spectacular Hopi silver jewelry, called silver overlay, much of it based on old designs from Hopi pottery. The jewelry is for sale in numerous galleries and shops along Route 264, which snakes through the Hopi reservation.
Hopi Cultural Center, P.O. Box 67, Second Mesa, AZ 86043 (520) 734-2421
The center has motel rooms, a dining room, and a few shops. One can inquire here about upcoming kachina dances and whether they are open to outsiders or not. Just north is the Silver Craft Cooperative Guild(520) 734-2463.
Dawa's, P.O. Box 127, Shungopavi, Second Mesa, AZ 86043, (520) 734-2430
One of the oldest family owned businesses at Hopi, Bernard Dawa's shop features beautiful jewelry, dance tablitas, and coiled baskets.Monongya Gallery, P.O. Box 287, Old Oraibi Village, AZ 86039, (520) 734-2344. In his modern gallery, Von Monongya has put together a huge collection of kachina dolls carved by established artists and younger ones.
McGee's Indian Art Gallery, P.O. Box 607, Keams Canyon, AZ 86034, (520)738-2295
Three generations of McGees have run this establishment, once a typical trading post and now a restaurant, grocery store, gas station, and art gallery that specializes in all the Hopi crafts, along with Navajo rugs and Zuni, Navajo, and Santa Domingo jewelry. The McGees are renowned among local Indians for their long support of craftspeople.