Sunday, February 3, 2008

There are No Mansions in Hopi Land

Life has always been a survival stuggle for the Hopi people. The Hopi Tribe’s reservation land base is located in the northeastern section of Arizona with a total area of approximately 1,622,511 acres bounded on all sides by the Navajo Reservation. This land area is distinctive for Hopi villages that sit atop 600 ft high espcarpments and for the visually striking fact that the land is so inhospitable. In years of the not-so-distant past men had to walk 10 miles each day to tend to their little patchs of squaw corn while the women struggled to negoatiate the steep cliffs with jars of water on their heads. Years ago when I first visited the Hopi's, I was amazed to see the sparcity of the corn plants in their fields. There are obviously no mansions on Hopi, the depressed economy of these noble natives are evident everywhere; nonetheless, their artistry whether it be baskets, Katsina (Kachina) carvings, pottery, or jewelry is all done with world-class precision. Several of the Hopi traders and jewelers themselves told me that production of jewelry is way down; in large part, due to the escalating cost of silver. I have been very impressed with the vital role of the Hopi Cultural Center in training the Hopi people to produce precision jewelry. I was saddened to see their big roadway sign in disrepair, but what really pained me was reading the notice* posted on the entry door.

I am really proud to be in the business of the promoting the Hopi jewelry artisans. Sandy and I bought generously this weekend. We spent two days there and finally had a trecherous trip home in a blizzard. I took a wild spin off the road near the summit of a peak near Window Rock, Arizona were we remained trapped in the snow for about an hour until a Navajo policeman and a kindly Navajo family joined forces to rescue us and send us on our way back to Gallup. The 5 buckles pictured are a few of the artistic treasures we brought back from Hopi today.

*click on image for enlargement, if that doesn't work the most relevant detail reads: