Cultural Community: Hopi
Location: Second Mesa, AZ
The Hopi are indigenous people inhabiting ancestral lands in Mesa, AZ. This land consists of nearly 4,000 square miles of high arid terrain in North Central Arizona. The main villages are on three rocky mesas, First Mesa, Second Mesa, and Third Mesa. The Hopi are deeply spiritual people and living in harmony with nature is at the center of their beliefs. Their beliefs imbue their lives, and of course, their jewelry.
When GI’s came home after World War II, Fred Kabotie and Paul Saufkie started the Co-op Guild to teach silvercraft techniques, more specifically the unique overlay technique. Between 1940-1960 some GI’s returned home, and some left to work in the city. Kabotie and Saufkie wanted men to stay and participate in the Hopi year-round religious ceremonies. Their vision was to keep men at home on the Hopi reservation to assist in the preservation of culture, language, and ceremonies, while also being able to support their families.
The Guild allowed everyone to learn silversmithing, to create jewelry, and create their own unique hallmark. During this time the Guild was described as a fun place to be, with about 30 men working in a big room in rows, people joking, and listening to traditional music.
After the Co-op Guild disbanded Gerald Lomaventema continued the teachings from his elders, by using pottery to illustrate traditional Hopi geometric designs and figures, which all have spiritual meaning. Lomaventema, a member of the original Co-op Guild, began mentoring a new group of silversmiths 8 years ago and teaches them in the Hopi language. The Qwa-Holo Hopi Guild now uses these traditional Hopi designs and techniques to create their jewelry.
The Hopi see their work as both a gift from and a part of the Earth. They respect the earth as a being, with its own karma or spirit. Their ancestors believed in taking care of the Earth, and this belief is embedded in their life and work. The Hopi silversmiths express a little bit about themselves and their cultural beliefs in their pieces.
To learn more, please listen to this Border Lore interview!