Pueblo: Hopi

Pueblo: Taos, San Ildefonso, Zuni, Hopi

Recorded and Edited by Willard Rhodes
Music of the American Indian from the Archive of Folk Culture L43
The Pueblos comprise a number of groups of Indians who live in New Mexico and Arizona. Despite their differences of language and tradition, they share many traits, for they are the descendents of an earlier culture, the Anasazi (Navajo for "the Ancient Ones"), that flourished between 900 and 1300 in the area where the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah meet, commonly known as the Four Corners. The Anasazi have become known as the Basket Makers, since the baskets found in the archeological sites antedate later stages of their culture in which pottery was introduced. It was during this period that the remarkable houses of skilled architecture were built in cliffs and canyons, remains of which can be visited today in Mesa Verde National Park and other sites. The abandonment of these dwellings has been attributed to a prolonged drought cycle, and it is possible that internal dissension and attacks from nomad also contributed to the move to present sites.

The Pueblo people are agriculturalists and plant corn, beans, squash, cotton, and tobacco. In the arid desert country of the Southwest, rain was and is a matter of primary concern to the people, for it is essential to the germination and growth of the plants. The bringing of rain and the maintenance of a happy relationship with the supernatural being who control the forces of nature have been central motives in their religion. Common to all the Pueblos, with the exception of Taos, is the kachina cult which has been described by Dr. Ruth Bunzel as "a religious form of worship through the impersonation of a group of supernaturals associated with clouds and rain."

The kachinas are the supernatural friends of the people, and on invitation come to dance for the entertainment of their host. The men of the kachina society impersonate the supernaturals by assuming their masked headgear and colorful costumes. According to Zuni ideology, the dance is compulsive magic.

The ceremonial life of the two western Pueblos, Hopi and Zuni, has been least influenced by contact with non-Indians. It is there that one can witness kachina dances that constitute a living celebration of their traditional religion. There are about thirty primary kachinas, but there are countless others of lesser status.

The ceremonial life of the people is vested in the priesthood of the several societies, each of which has its well-defined responsibility in maintaining the schedule of calendric dances so essential to the health and well-being of the Pueblo. Each society has its own kiva, an underground chamber that serves as a ceremonial home for the society. It is there that ceremonial songs and dances are rehearsed in preparation for their public presentation in the plaza of the Pueblo, The kiva also serves as a storeroom for the Costumes and paraphernalia of the dances.

The traditional religion of the Pueblos is firmly rooted, and its continuation is assured by the initiation of boys. Dr. Underhill writes, "At Hopi and Zuni when they are eight years old the boys, and now and then a girl, meet the masked rain spirits and are soundly whipped as a form of exorcism. Later, for the boys, comes the initiation into one group or another which involves the duties of dance, song, and prayer for the benefit of the village."

During the Spanish colonial period, the padres of the Catholic Church worked with missionary zeal to convert the Indians to Christianity. The churches that stand in the plazas of the Pueblos still function for those who have accepted membership and there appears to be no conflict with the native beliefs and practices of the Indians. Name days of the patron saints of the Pueblos are celebrated with dances.

The most publicized ceremony of the Hopis is the Snake Rite, which is performed jointly with the Antelope Society in alternate years with the joint ceremony of the Blue Flute and Gray Flute societies. Members of the Snake Society go out in the four directions and bring back their clan brothers, the snakes. On a day named by the priest, they "dance" these relatives, one priest holding a snake in his mouth, while another diverts the snake by brushing his head with a feather to keep it from biting. It is said that the dance has never failed to bring the rain. I can only speak for the one snake dance I have witnessed, on that occasion a flash flood followed the ceremony, delaying Sante Fe by sixteen hours.

The Hopis live in autonomous villages on three mesas where they settled subsequent to the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Since the turn of the century, several villages have been established in the valley near the fields and where water is more available, for the mesas are mostly exposed bedrock of Mesa Verde sandstone.

Unlike the Zuni, where the social, political, and religious life is concentrated in the Pueblo of Zuni, the Hopi have tended to become divisive, with overt friction between conservative traditionalists and progressive activists. This dichotomy was made acute when, prompted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to act on the Indian Reorganization Act, the Hopi adopted a constitution and bylaws in 1936. This "democracy by fiat" was completely contrary to the traditions of the Hopi, who regarded each village as autonomous and never thought of themselves as a tribe.

The Hopi are skilled craftsmen and artists. Women make beautiful wicker baskets and plaques in which colors-reds, greens, yellows, black, brown, tan, and others-are important in defining the design, from static bands to dynamic whirls. Hopi pottery jars and bowls are beautifully decorated with curved motifs. The weaving of textiles, still carried on today, is the traditional work of men.

The contemporary silver work of the Hopi men has been stimulated by the designs of Fred Kabotic, the Hopi artist. A Hopi Tribal Arts and Crafts Guild, with a large sales shop located next to the new Tribal Museum and Cultural Center on Second Mesa, is effective in maintaining the highest quality of workmanship and providing a sales outlet for the craftsmen.

Since 1879 the making of pottery in Zuni has declined until today it is almost extinct. The Zuni silversmith's interest centers on turquoise and has developed a late technique name "channel." The refinement of technique in the setting of tiny turquoise stones distinguishes much of the work of the Zuni.

The large Zuni Pueblo was combined from six or seven ancient ones following the Pueblo Rebellion of 1680. It is a tightly knit society with religious and civil responsibilities distributed among priesthoods. Dr. Ruth Benedict in her study Patterns of Culture described the ethos of Zuni society as Apollonian in contrast to societies she designated as Dionysian.

One of the most enjoyable of the Zuni rites is the Shalako, which is celebrated at the time of the winter solstice. It is a house blessing ceremony in which the giant gods visit the houses that have been built or enlarged during the past year.

Other groups known as the River (Rio Grande) Pueblos came under Spanish influence when Don Juan de Onate arrived in 1598 with a cortege of goats, horses, and 129 colonists, many with families. He established his capital in Sante Fe about 1610, and today it is the Indians of the River Pueblos that the visitor sees displaying their arts and crafts for sale on the arcade of the governor's palace. These Pueblos may be grouped by language with Acoma, the ancient "sky city," and Laguna, intermediate between the western Pueblos and the River Pueblos. The latter number sixteen, divided among the following languages: Keresan, Towa, Tewa, and Tiwa.

The making of pottery is a revived art that has been inspired by the archeological finds of scraps of ancient pottery. Among the Pueblo potters, Maria Marinez and her husband, Julian, of San Ildefonso are known for the blackware and its designs. Their work is exhibited in museums throughout the world.

Play song


Performed by


Native Words



The Long-Haired Kachina Dance, Agakachina This is only one of many daylong kachina dances that fill the Hopi calendar in the early spring and summer. Dr. Edward Kennard in his book, Hopi Kachinas, states: "Primarily, like all ceremonies, the dance is religious. But it is much more. It combines music, dance, and ornamentation in one art form, providing the Hopi with their greatest aesthetic satisfaction. It is the occasion for the display of their hospitality to visitors. It is the end point of days of economic activity. It offers an opportunity to show their affection for their children by the gifts anonymously given by the Kachinas. It is the time when the clowns present their burlesques for the amusement of the assembled spectators. It is a holiday. But it is all one experience to the Hopi, and he succinctly includes all these activities in the single word, tikive – the dance day."

The long line of kachinas is led to the plaza by the "father," who makes a road of cornmeal for them to follow. The text of the songs and its translation by Dr. Kennard follows.

At the beginning of each dance, the man who sprinkles cornmeal on the kachinas drops some near the leader in the center of the line and starts them with this line which is standard, "All right, once more, with happy hearts."
You come to our corn children,
Come rain on them.
Clouds, come to them – Rain – Rain.
Come to them again, do it again,
Again, let it come to them, rain again.
Come, open up, clouds come to them and rain.
ta'ai piwu halaikyakyangui (spoken by "father" of the kachinas)
he hei heya ei
uma pew tatai usipi
amumi yoyang pewtai
o'omawutui pewi amumi yoki yoki

hena ilo naheni
i lo hilo henai weya hei
o heya wiya heya hei
o yona yonai ho yonai heya hei
he yona yonai ha heya hai
o heya hei hilo weya heya
o yona yonai heya hei' ei.

ahai ahai
piw amumyui piwyani
piw utumnui amumi yoyang piw'i
pew'i utai o'omawutui pew amumi yoki

oho ilo wiya hiya
oho we e'hei wiya hena heyanai
o yona yonai eya hai.
All right again being happy
you come to our corn children
to them rain come
clouds come to them rain rain

again on them, do it again
again let it come to them rain once more.
come open clouds come to them rain
Hopi Version Of "Dixie" The Hopi version of "Dixie" is an amusing example of fun with music. By adding vocable to the melody, the singer has adapted the song to the Hopi style, but the melody betrays its origin. The song was recorded at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, where Jimmy Kewanwytewa was a member of the staff. Hopi
Hopi Lullaby The "Hopi Lullaby" is an old one and was probably first recorded by Natalie Curtis in The Indians Book, 1907. It tells the story of "two beetles who carried each other on their backs and went to sleep like that." The version heard on this LP was recorded in 1949. A comparison of the lullaby as sung by Clarence Taptuka with the printed version by Curtis would show both the continuity and the change that takes place in music perpetuated by oral/aural transmission. Ho ho ya e
na ikwio kano
puva, puva, puva, puva
zi zi zi zi zi zi zi zi
zi zi zi zi zi
zi zi zi zi zi zi zi zi
zi zi zi zi zi
ho ho ya o
na ikwio kano
shuh pe pave–e
puva, puva, puva, puva
zi zi zi zi zi zi zi zi
zi zi zi zi zi
zi zi zi zi zi zi zi zi
zi zi zi zi zi
shuh pe pave–e
na ikwio kano
puva, puva, puva, puva.
Hopi Butterfly Dance The Hopi Butterfly Dance is a social dance, like the Buffalo Dance, and is generally held after the Snake Dance and before the children and young people go back to boarding school. Dr. Edward Kennard writes: "The songs are sung by a chorus of men, and are danced by a line of partners – the boys facing the girls. The girl in theory is the kyaa'a (woman of his father's clan, that sexy joking relation), and if she is not, often one of his kyaa'a will shove the partner out of line and take her place. The songs tend to be humorous. It goes on all day – with few rest periods, so visitors can eat around. I have seen as many as 40-60 taking part. As they dance they move sideways around the village, and if one is watching from the roof-top, they make patterns as they go." wena ha yei wena ha yei
hilo ilo wna ha yei
ihai ilo yai ihai ilo yai
yona mana henai man tetei
okimas yoyoi
wna hai yau tatei
wena mai hena––
yoyoi tahei hei hai lo heya loo o hayai
o'omawutui tutuyuveni amumyu imaniy
yoyoi wimai hai
wiya henai a wiya henai
hei hei'ei wiya henai
ilo lo mei ahei henai
o'omawutui tutuyuveni amumyu (uyu)
omay hai sona yoyoi tumuyu hahawunani
awiya hena awiya hena yahei––
o'omawutui tutuyuveni amumyu (uyu)
omay hai sona yoyoi tumuyu hahawunani
awiya hena awiya hena yahei––
yona manatetei
okio*yoyoi mana wunayi tetei hai hena hena––
youoinani e––aya heya lo ––
o'omawutu tutuveni amumumyu
ayoi sona ––
yoyoi ––
owiya henai ilo hyai heya ei me'ei
o hena wina heyi.

*Okio is a word expressing pity, sometimes interpreted as "poor" in the sense of "my poor boy."
Clouds, come to our plants
and let the rain make marks on the sand.
Clouds, make marks on the sand for them.
Let the rain come down.