20th, 2004: Going Home
a vision of a far off land, they rise up from the horizon - sometimes
obscured by clouds or hazy skies - but on this particular day
they are bold and visible from over a hundred miles. The San
Francisco Peaks, near Flagstaff, Arizona serve as a major focal
point for traditional Hopis who believe that they are the home
of the sacred kachina spirits who visit them throughout the winter
and spring months.
month is the time for the Home Dance or Niman Kachina. The villages
are all holding their last ceremonial dances of the year - celebrating
the blessings they've received and honoring the kachinas before
they depart. They will soon be going home. The world-renown Hopi
artist and sculptor, Neil David Sr., painted a fabulous scene
of kachina spirits emerging from an earthy home, with a kiva
ladder tucked secretly into the mountains. The title of this
piece: Going to Hopi.
it is, every year. The kachinas arrive in early winter and depart
in early summer. The Home Dance is a grand spectacle. Visitors
come from everywhere to witness a great gathering of many different
kachinas. These visitors often include other Pueblos, and even
Navajos (although much less frequently today than 100 years ago).
Many make a pilgrimage of great distances to be a part of something
ancient - something sacred. Eventually, each of them will also
a visitor myself, in many respects, it is here that I too feel
most at home. The Hopi culture and the feeling of the land is
unlike anything else in the world. It is mysterious and majestic.
It is peaceful and serene.
the course of business (not to mention daily life), I am often
required to travel long distances - whether to an art market,
a cultural festival, or even to get groceries. Flagstaff is nearly
a hundred and twenty miles from my home, but we go there often
to run our errands and to get away at times. As we head west,
I am always reminded of the kachina homeland, as the peaks are
the most prominently visible landmark. Often they are snow capped,
as if to say they have gone dormant with the absence of their
inhabitants. But once the kachinas return, the hills are alive
with plant and animal life. They are vibrant with the green color
of juniper and pine. The mountains have become whole again. They
have returned to undertake the great responsibility of bringing
the rains and sustaining life.
imagine that it must be similar for the Hopi, whose villages
also come alive with the arrival of the kachina spirits. And
when they leave, the Hopi are left with the memories and lessons
of the past, returning to their homes and striving to maintain
the delicate balance between the world we live in and their traditional
life. They know they have a responsibility. We all have a responsibility
to our home - whether it's four walls and a ceiling we use for
shelter, or whether it's Mother Earth - we have a home, a sacred
is something sublime about the journey home, no matter where
you are. As my wife and I drove down the stretch of highway from
Winslow, Arizona to Second Mesa - with our daughter asleep in
the back seat - I couldn't help but feel like I was going home
too. Going home to a place of peace and security - with my family
and with my friends. I am fortunate to call this place home.
The Permanent Rezident
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