THE HOPI WAY by Mary Elting


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The construct is anthropological, the path personal, in this new series, and very well it begins in the putative words and the authentic pictures of Louis Mofsie, a Long Island art teacher of Winnebago and Hopi descent who recalls a childhood visit--his first--to his father's Hopi village. A Hopi child ""should wait and see,"" Louis has been told, so he doesn't question his uncle's impromptu homecoming song. Nor the plan to assign him a special Hopi name or the significance of the stone box in the center of the plaza. Meanwhile he is learning that the underground room, or kiva, where the men congregate, serves to keep them in contact with the spirits of the underworld and also as a kind of clubhouse where, they weave or put together pahos; that pahos are not prayer sticks but message sticks, each suitably adorned, to talk to supernatural beings, or plants and animals; that, similarly, the Flute ceremony isn't an attempt to make or pray for rain but to keep the Hopi people in accord with nature and so let rain fall. An uncle is dilatory and they miss a dance: ""Some days I found it hard to behave like a Hopi boy""--i.e. not to be impatient. But patience is rewarded with the explanation for the welcome song, the new name, the forbidden box. . . and, becoming part of the Kachina dance without moving from his place, Louis at last feels like a Hopi. For the reservation Indian, confirmation; for Indians elsewhere, identity and tradition; for other children, understanding and appreciation of both.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1969
Publisher: Evans--dist. by Lippincott