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Summer festival brings Hopi people to Flagstaff


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Summer is the time of ceremonial dances, growing corn and monsoon rains to the Hopi people. And for the last 75 years, summer has also been the time that this hardworking and spiritual people come to Flagstaff to share their art and culture. This July 4 and 5, the Museum of Northern Arizona will open its doors for the 76th Annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture, “the Oldest Hopi Art Show in the World.”

The museum comes alive with the sights, sounds and tastes of the Hopi people – evoking the very spirit of this Colorado Plateau culture. Explore Hopi beliefs and current issues with Heritage Insights talks. Enjoy meeting more than 75 artists from the 12 Hopi villages, presenting centuries-old art traditions kept alive through contemporary innovations. And hear Casper and the 602 Band’s riveting Hopi reggae under the big tent.

The Hopi village of Orayvi is considered the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, dating back more than a millennium. The Hopi have survived in their mesa homeland for centuries and although their culture is changing, their core values remain intact and central to their culture. At the Hopi Festival, these values are expressed in many ways.

“This year’s Hopi Festival will honor the life and career of noted katsina doll carver Ernest Moore Jr. (1934–2008) with a display of his work. He came to carving late in life and his exceptionally fine work elevated him to a master artist level in a very short time,” said Museum Director Robert Breunig. “He was a recognized Hopi Festival artist for many years, including at last year’s event. His skillful eyes and hands will be missed in the art world, as well as the twinkle in his eye and his friendly nature.”

New this year

“We’re really excited about a new addition to the festival. Katsina doll carver and poet Ramson Lomatewama has worked at the museum for many years as a demonstrator and educator. His more recent artistic interests have led him to glass blowing,” said Heritage Program Coordinator Anne Doyle. “This year he’ll be outside demonstrating how he creates his glittering, glass blown spirit figures.”

Also new this year will be a chance to meet author Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa. With seasoned American West history author Carolyn O’bagy Davis, he co-authored “The Hopi People,” part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.

Koyiyumptewa is a member of the Badger/Butterfly Clan from Hotevilla on Third Mesa and has worked for the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office as the tribal archivist for the last eight years. Through a collection of remarkable photographs, the outside world will have a rare look into this unique culture. A book signing with Koyiyumptewa is scheduled Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the book is on sale in the museum’s bookstore.

Heritage Insights presentations

The nuances of making Hopi basketry will be revealed by Ruby Chimerica and her daughter Anita Koruh, as they present an ongoing demonstration on weaving baskets, cradleboards and rattles from sumac and rabbit bush.

A dynamic artist in his own right, Ed Kabotie is grandson and son to two noted artists, Fred and Michael Kabotie. Ed Kabotie plays acoustic guitar and Native flute, while incorporating teachings about the Hopi language and its history into his music. He sings in Hopi, Tewa and English in his trilingual compositions.

Bob Rhodes and Breunig will share their knowledge of Hopi basketry. Rhodes is director of Hopitutuqaiki, the Hopi School’s Summer Arts Program.

A rare opportunity for public participation in the exhibit creation process, cultural educator and curator Susan Sekakuku will present early ideas being explored for the museum’s upcoming permanent Hopi exhibit. As part of the exhibit’s development, Sekakuku will present proposed themes and will be looking for feedback from the audience.

Clark Tenakhongva will talk about katsina doll carving – the history of the art form, the spiritual aspects of katsina dolls, and what the carvings represent.

Gary Tso, owner and operator of Left Handed Hunter Tours, is an energetic speaker who will talk about Hopi culture, Hopi clan migrations, the story of the four worlds and the Europeanization of Hopi land.

Under the big tent

On Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m., Casper and the 602 Band will perform their high energy, Jamaican-inspired reggae combined with Native roots. Casper Loma-da-wa’s lyrics are filled with hope and power, telling stories of contemporary reservation life. “Reggae,” he says, “is the music of a struggling people – that’s what Jamaican music is. We, as Native people, have been struggling all these years.” The band has opened for reggae greats such as the Wailers, Culture and Burning Spear.

The Nuvatukya’ovi Sinom Dance Group will perform the Polhikmana or water maiden dance, and the koshari or clown dance to unite people and make them happy. They will also perform a Supai dance celebrating the Havasupai people. All of the group’s regalia – the clothing, weaving and tabletas or headdresses – are designed and handmade by the dancers, and all of the outfits have cloud designs for rain.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., organizer and designer Maya David will return with her team of seamstresses and models from throughout the Hopi Mesas to present a fashion show of Native inspired creations.

Sidney Poolheco and Sandra Hamana will perform traditional Hopi songs while capturing elements of change in the Hopi culture through contemporary tunes and lyrics. Poolheco’s music is often featured on KUYI 88.1 Hopi Radio.

More festival activities

In addition to the 75 booth artists, the museum staff has made several trips to the Hopi Reservation to collect one-of-a-kind consignment items for sale from individual artists. Hundreds of distinctive art pieces such as quilts, rattles, pottery, katsina dolls, paintings and baskets will be for sale.

While enjoying entertainment under the big tent, take a taste of ages-old traditional Hopi foods. Alice Dashee, a potter and educator, will give presentations all day on both days about the role of corn in Hopi culture.

Award-winning potters Dorothy and Emerson Ami take visitors on a pottery making journey, discussing how they collect materials and build, decorate and fire pieces.

Sash weaving will be demonstrated by Louis Josytewa.

Always popular with families, the Creative Corner outside in the courtyard will be the place for kids and the young at heart to decorate Hopi birds, work with clay and play a Hopi hoop game.

KUYI Hotevilla, the Native American public radio station and a project of the Hopi Foundation, will be onsite for a live broadcast.

The Nuvatukya’ovi Sinom Dance Group will be in Flagstaff’s Fourth of July Parade Saturday morning, and downtown at Heritage Square in a free performance following the parade. On Sunday at noon, they will again perform at Heritage Square.

The Museum of Northern Arizona sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, three miles north of historic downtown Flagstaff on Highway 180. Festival admission is $7 adults, $6 seniors (65 and up), $5 students, $4 Native people, $4 children (7–17), and free to MNA members. Become a member in time to attend the Hopi Festival Members’ Preview, Arts Award Ceremony, and Silent Auction Friday evening, July 3, before the festival. For more information call (928) 774-5213.