Hopi Kachina Dolls
High on the mesas in the arid land of northeastern Arizona live the Hopi,
westernmost of the Pueblo people. A small, peaceful and friendly group, they
have occupied their barren mesa tops and farmed their arid but fertile valleys
for many centuries. Clinging tenaciously to their marginal land, they have
withstood drought, famine and the onslaught of nomadic raiders. The pressure of

Spanish domination, pestilence and, more recently, cultural inundation have
diminished but not destroy their traditional pattern of life. The Hopi are bound
together by their religion, a multi-stranded cord uniting them to withstand the
hazards of a harsh environment and in rebuffing foreign incursions. Their
religion is both their bulwark and the lure that attracts forces that would
destroy them (Wright 1). Hopi traditions and lifestyles have not changed
significantly over the years. To this day the Hopi Indians are still found where
they have been found for many years. The Hopi have withstood great loss and
disappointment, but have never lost their faith and union between each other. A
major part of the Hopi life is their religious beliefs and ceremonies. Many of
the religious ceremonies that the Hopi Indians perform are still performed to
the present day. An important part of the Hopi religion is the Kachina. Along
with the religious aspect the Kachina has other meaning to the Hopi. The three
main aspects of the Hopi Kachina are the supernatural beings, the dancers who
impersonate these beings and the wooden dolls. To the Hopi Indians of Arizona
the first aspect of the Kachina is the supernatural beings. The Hopi do no
necessarily worship the Kachinas so much as they consider them as a supernatural
force to be recognized and worked with. The supernatural beings of the Kachina
are part of the religious beliefs of the Hopi Indians. іThe Kachina cult
has been described as a common denominator in Hopi religionІ (Wright 11).

This cult is something that nearly every Hopi takes part in. So from that it is
shown as to why the Kachinas are a much talked about part of the Hopi life. The

San Francisco Peaks of northern Arizona are said to be the home of the
supernatural beings of the Kachina. For six months of the year the supernatural
beings return to the Hopi villages and take part in the seasonal ceremonies.

These ceremonies are said to be able to bring about rain, wind and even sunshine
(Wright 12). The Hopi Kachina calendar tells when and what ceremonies take
place. The calendar time for how long the ceremonies take place is six months.

The Kachina season begins in late December with a ritual opening of the kivas.

These kivas are underground ceremonial chambers which are believed to be the
entryways to the Spirits of Underworld. There are usually several in each
village incorporating most of the men as kiva members. Once the way is opened

Kachinas will come and go from the kivas until the path is again closed to them
toward the end of July (Fewkes 4). During this time frame the Kachinas will help
in doing many different things for the Hopi Indians. Some of the different
things that the Kachinas will do during this time is, іthey will renew the
world and begin to get it ready for the coming seasons cropsІ (Wright 13).
іThe Kachinas will also insure growth and abundance and, as always, bring
moisture. They will bring discipline to some and give direction to all in proper
behavior, but their greatest gift will be happiness, good health and a long lifeІ
(Colin 9). These are very important tasks that the Hopi Kachinas accomplish
during the six months that they are present. The way that the Kachinas are able
to accomplish these tasks is in a very unique way. іHopi Kachinas embody
the spirits of living things and also the spirits of ancestors who have died and
become a part of nature. Kachinas are believed to possess powers over nature,
especially the weather, but higher gods limit the extent of their powersІ
(Colton 7). While the kivas are open and the Kachinas are present the Hopi

Indian males have a lot of things going one. Since the supernatural beings of
the Kachina can not be seen, the Hopi costumed impersonators impersonate the
different Kachinas during the ceremonies (Bahti 36). The second aspect of the

Hopi Kachina is the impersonators of the Kachina. When the kivas are open and
the Kachinas are present the Hopi men dress in costumes and impersonate the
different Kachinas. Even the female Kachinas are impersonated by the men of the
villages. The