Kachina

The San Francisco Peaks- For many years this is the view of the peaks I saw everyday.

The San Francisco Peaks- For many years this is the view of the peaks I saw everyday.

Bummer. I got my cast off, but my wrist fracture is not healed so I’m stuck in a brace and still can’t type worth a damn. Once again I will have to keep it on the short side, and share the work of others in an effort to not entirely miss the letter “K”. Here goes…

Growing up in Northern Arizona I was fortunate to have regular contact with Native Americans, mostly Navaho and Hopi. I even took Navaho as a language in community college, but that is a different story….. I did learn in that class that there is no letter “J” in the Navaho language, and thusly, at least according to the instructor who was Navaho, the Navaho people tend to prefer the “H spelling. Navajo vs. Navaho…but I digress.

Kachina March by John Steele

Kachina March by John Steele

This post is about kachinas, something I have been somewhat familiar with for most of my life as I grew up seeing kachina dolls for sale in every tourist store. From early on I was told they were representations of the Hopi spirit deities, and the real kachinas lived in the San Francisco Peaks, the mountains in whose shadow I grew up. I later found out that during certain times of the year the kachinas actually came into the Hopi villages to dance.

And of course all this information is a white girl version of facts. Even the name, kachina, is a white version. The Hopi people prefer the more traditional spelling and pronunciation, katsina. As I have slowly discovered through Native American friends, there is usually a white, touristy version of things and then there’s the version true to Indian culture. There is a wide world of watered-down tourist kachina lore out there, and Kachina Dolls From Arizona KachinasI must admit I am drawn to it. More than anything I love to buy kachina dolls, which traditionally were simple carvings of the spirits that became very elaborate as time progressed. Surely the tourists influenced the development and creation of the fancier kachina dolls, and now a well-made kachina doll costs hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. But lucky me, there are many cheap versions out there and these are the ones I can afford.

Regardless of whether they’re tourist versions or not, I think they’re cool. I have many representations of gods and goddesses from various cultures throughout the house, and I love to see how different cultures represent their deities.

Really I don’t know how much justice I can do to a conversation on kachinas as I know only a small portion of the story and would simply be sharing facts learned on the web. To save my wrist on the typing, let me provide you with a link to a good description of the kachinas. Please, if you’ve made it this far take a moment to look at it here.

Kiva Kachina Dance by Ray Naha

Kiva Kachina Dance by Ray Naha

And the next time you’re in the American southwest keep an eye out for the kachinas!

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