Hopi art and culture celebrated at 81st annual Hopi Festival

A member of the Tsootra Dance Group performs July 6 in the tent outside the Museum of Northern Arizona during the 81st annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture. Ryan Williams/NHO

A member of the Tsootra Dance Group performs July 6 in the tent outside the Museum of Northern Arizona during the 81st annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture. Ryan Williams/NHO

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Over the Fourth of July weekend the Museum of Northern Arizona celebrated the 81st Annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture with musical performances, dance groups, art sales and presentations.

Jennifer Joseph was the emcee for the event. She emceed the previous two years as well.

"I get to see friends and family and even people that have seen me the years before stop to say hello so it is a good experience every year," she said.

In the tent throughout the day attendees were treated to performances by musician Ed Kabotie and the Tsootra Dance Group. Inside the museum, presentations took place on Hopi lifestyle with topics ranging from Hopi Women's Roles; Ethno botany, auctioning of sacred items and other topics affecting Hopi.

Children's activities included a Hopi themed puppet show and a creative corner.

Inside the museum, Hopi artists sold their art including Kachina dolls, baskets, jewelry, and pottery. This is one of the premier events for people to obtain Hopi arts directly from the artists who live on the reservation. All of the items are directly from the source. Many of the artists rely on the income generated from the show to support their families.

A new addition to this year's event was the remote broadcast of the event through the KUYI 88.1 Hopi radio station from the Keams Canyon area. Program Manager Richard Davis was on hand sorting out details, raising money for the station and greeting visitors while Bruce Talawyma and Randall Mahle manned the airwaves. Many residents on Hopi were able to enjoy the events which streamed online at KUYI.NET. Talawyma and Mahle kept the radio audience entertained with their wit and commentary speaking in Hopi and English.

In the courtyard different organizations had booths to bring attention to their work including Friends of the Well, an organization started by Kayo Oarsons Korn. The non-profit organization is dedicated to the protection, preservation and enhancement of Montezuma Well National Monument. Hopi advisors like Jerry Honawa from Hotevilla Village help maintain a traditional use garden where the organization works to preserve the sanctity of this sacred site by planting Hopi corn.

Working with the National Park Service, Friends of the Well put on youth activities with Junior Rangers to work the garden and raise corn. Korn distributes heirloom seed packets as well.

"The garden is irrigated straight from the well but the hardest part is that there are a lot of weeds to pull up," Korn said. "Honawa brought the seeds to start the garden but we welcome any Hopis to help or participate."

The Natwani Coalition, which promotes agriculture on the Hopi reservation, was on hand at the Hopi Show along with Dr. Robert Rhodes from the Hopitututaiki or Hopi School. The school is helping preserve Hopi traditional practices by putting on classes to teach students everything from basket making, weaving, cooking and other fine arts such as quilt making and glass blowing. Currently the school is raising money by selling raffle tickets for a quilt that is valued at $2,500 to be raffled on July 10.

Another informational booth was the Experience Hopi table manned by James Surveyor from Moenkopi Legacy Inn.The organization promotes the Hopi Arts Trail, which is a network of artists and galleries on Hopi that can be found through the www.HopiArtsTrail.com website. Visitors are able to locate the artists directly through a guide and meet artists or visit galleries on the Hopi reservation.

A favorite this year was Tewa/Hopi musician Ed Kabotie who entertained in the big tent with his songs in the Tewa and Hopi language. He is a Flagstaff local musician and delighted the crowd with his humor and messages of respecting mother earth as well as voicing his opinions regarding mining and water conservation.

Jamescita Peshlaki, a member of the Arizona State House, said "these events are a good way to bridge the gap between rural Arizona and the urban areas. Many urban residents do not have knowledge of the Arizona Natives and this a is a good way to make that connection."

The annual Hopi Show has been a July Fourth tradition since the 1930s and is the oldest such event showcasing Hopi Arts and Culture.

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