Annual Hopi Festival celebrates 75 years at Museum of Northern Arizona

<i>Photo by Michele Mountain/MNA</i><br>A female dancer from the Nuvatukya’ ovi Sinom Dance Group performs.

<i>Photo by Michele Mountain/MNA</i><br>A female dancer from the Nuvatukya’ ovi Sinom Dance Group performs.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - This year's Fourth of July weekend marks 75 years for the Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. Saturday and Sunday, July 5 and 6, "the Oldest Hopi Show in the World" will again immerse visitors in the artistry and language of this ancient people.

Over 60 artists from the 12 Hopi villages will present art forms they have created, continuing to innovate upon centuries old arts and crafts traditions. The weekend's insightful cultural presentations will focus on the Hopi values of humility, cooperation, respect, balance, and earth stewardship.

MNA's early focus on preserving and promoting Hopi art forms evolved into the Hopi Craftsman Exhibition in 1930. Lacking a market for their traditional items due to traders' interest in tourist items only, the Hopi artists, over time, looked to the museum every Fourth of July to connect with collectors interested in their work.

And over those 75 years, the event has become a regional tradition. The museum collected both award-winning and other fine examples of Hopi arts from these annual shows.

In celebration of this diamond anniversary year, MNA Director Robert Breunig has personally selected objects from this collection for display at the festival. Visitors will see work by hand-coil potters Garnet Pavatea (b. 1915-d. 1981) and Rena Kavena (b. 1898-d. 1993), anchor artists of the shows from the '50s to the '70s. They will also see a wicker plaque basket from Sarah Gashwytewa (b. unknown-d. 2005) and a silver ladle by world-renowned jeweler Charles Loloma (b. 1921-d. 1992), among other extraordinary collection items.

Breunig stated, "This display of exceptional items from MNA's many years of collecting Hopi art illustrates the development and depth of the museum's Hopi collections and represents the museum's working relationship with the Hopi people throughout all of those 75 years."

He added, "Years ago, all of us at the museum knew these artists. The collection that we're showing is a record of those relationships that brings back memories. Like with Garnet Pavatea's work, when I see her pottery, I feel her presence. In my mind I still see her. I can only imagine what this collection might do for some Hopi people when they see it."

Hopi textiles come to the forefront this year in weaving and quilting. At the Hopi pueblos, men are always the weavers. In the 1930s, MNA recorded 213 Hopi weavers, all men. By the 1980s, there were only about 20 active weavers. Today, traditional weaving is done mostly for ceremonies by a very small number of weavers.

MNA Heritage Program Coordinator Anne Doyle said, "A group of weavers will be working both days at the festival and talking to visitors about their craft. There are two types of looms in use today by Hopis, the vertical loom which is suspended upright from the floor to the ceiling and the belt or waist loom which is suspended at the upper end and fastened around the weaver's waist. Benson Honyumptewa, last year's Hopi Festival Best of Show artist, will be demonstrating the process of weaving Hopi sashes and wedding robes, joined by Louie Josytewa and other male weavers."

Quilting was introduced to Hopi women over 100 years ago by Mennonite missionaries. Since then, the simple patchwork bed coverings have evolved into contemporary works of art, their importance only recognized recently. Quilting has become part of the Hopi matrilineal society and the skill is passed from mother to daughter, with quilts being given as gifts at baby naming ceremonies, weddings, and other special occasions.

For the first time, a Native fashion show of traditional and contemporary apparel will be presented by Hopi artist and seamstress Maya David. Ten seamstresses from all three Hopi mesas are involved in creating these fashions with intricate detailing and an emphasis on design.

Not to be missed is a modern Hopi kiva mural entitled Journey of the Human Spirit, a permanent installation in MNA's Kiva Gallery. The kiva mural is inspired by a brilliant mural painting tradition that flourished in the Southwest between the 14th and 17th centuries. The 5 by 48 foot mural by Michael Kabotie and Delbridge Honanie moves from the mythic emergence of the Hopi people, through ancient migrations, the coming of the Spanish, the coming of the Anglos, strip mining at Black Mesa, the abuse of fast foods, drugs, and drink by Native people, and finally, the rebirth of Hopi beliefs and traditions.

Heritage insights presentations

Heritage insights presentations about Hopi arts and lifeways seek to provide a deeper exploration of Hopi beliefs and current issues, creating uncommon dialogs about subjects important to the Hopi people. The presentations are sponsored by a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council.

Award-winning jeweler Sidney Sekakuku Jr. will demonstrate popular silver overlay techniques with bird, katsina, animal, and clan motifs adapted from fifteenth and sixteenth century pottery shards. During his 38 years of silversmithing, he has taught at Northland Pioneer College and the Hopi Arts and Crafts Guild. His work is inspired by ceremonies, pictographs, and petroglyphs at Hopi.

Carver, jeweler, poet, and educator Ramson Lomatewama will present an overview of the Hopi culture, including how he expresses his cultural beliefs through the medium of glassblowing, bridging the old to the new.

Victor Masayesva Jr., a documentary filmmaker and advocate for the Indigenous voice within the international art community, will talk about water use and water issues on Hopi and the spring project at Third Mesa. Masayesva will recount stories of historical water wars of this region, forced migration, and how the Hopi learned to communicate with the clouds.

A remembrance and celebration of the life of former Hopi chairman Ferrell Secakuku will be presented by Northern Arizona University's Miguel Vasquez. Secakuku helped resolve a longtime land dispute between the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation by facilitating the negotiations of the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement. Secakuku earned his master's degree in anthropology from NAU.

Miss Hopi 2007-2008 Kassondra Ryanna Yaiva and her First Attendant Emmalynn Mae Thompson will attend the festival as goodwill ambassadors and to raise awareness of health and wellness issues affecting Hopi people.

Utilizing Hopi legends and fables to preserve the Hopi language, on Saturday only Three Mesas Production will present a puppet show performance by youth volunteers from the three Hopi Mesas.

At Creative Corner, children of all ages will make pottery pinch pots, corn necklaces, and color maps of the four directions as take-home crafts related to the Hopi culture. The MNA docents will also present "Field Mouse Goes to War," a puppet show.

Returning to the Hopi Festival

The Nuvatukya' ovi Sinom Dance Group will perform the Supai dance celebrating the Havasupai people and the Polhikmana or water maiden dance on Saturday at 1:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., and on Sunday at 2:45 p.m.

On Sunday only, Casper and the Mighty 602 Band will perform their Hopi reggae at 1 and 4 p.m. Festival crowds gather again and again to hear this band's positive message of hope and vision that comes straight from the heart. Their songs also talk about feelings of oppression, poverty, and the hardships of modern reservation life.

Consignment items for sale

In addition to the more than 60 anticipated booth artists, the Museum staff has collected one-of-a-kind consigned works for sale from individual artists across the Hopi reservation.

Hopi dancers at Heritage Square

As a special celebration of this 75th year, the Homolovi Dance Group will perform at downtown Flagstaff's Heritage Square for free from 11 a.m. to 12 noon on both Saturday and Sunday. A free shuttle to and from the museum and Heritage Square will also run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

This year's Hopi Festival won the American Bus Association's Top Event in the U.S. award, from among the top 100 events in North America. The ABA represents approximately 1,000 motorcoach and tour companies within the U.S. and Canada and is the oldest group travel association.

75th Annual Hopi Festival Sponsors

The 2008 Hopi Festival is sponsored by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, Arizona ArtShare, Flagstaff Cultural Partners, city of Flagtaff, Coconino County and the Arizona Humanities Council.

Festival admission is $7 adult, $6 senior (65+), $5 student, $4 child (7-17), and free to MNA members.

For more information about the Hopi Festival, visit www.musnaz.org or call (928) 774-5213.

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