indian jewelry
                Overview of Customs and Rituals
                Chochuschuvio, or Chochu is a Hopi Indian maiden
                of seventeen. Her name means "white-tailed
                deer.  Now home from the government school in
                Oraibi, she helps her grandfather in the corn
                field in the village of Shipolovi.  Corn is a sacred and valued product for Hopi Indians.
                The way of the Hopi Indian is a fine way of life. For Chochu, it is the season for the outdoor dances
                that will bring the summer rains, the corn and squash and melons are planted, and, even more
                interesting, a number of the village boys who had been to school in Phoenix, AZ and Riverside, CA
                are also home for the summer.

                One boy named Edward has shown a particular interest in her during the picnic trip the day after
                the Hunters' dance. Chocu ran back to her home and was dreaming about Edward, when she was
                sharply interrupted by her mother. Hopi Indian school girls, home for vacation, have routine
                household tasks to perform, and these may not be neglected for daydreaming.

                The mother directed her daughter to assist in the preparation of the evening meal, reminding her that the men Hopi Indian land, the summer is a season of many activities. Rarely a week passes without a short ceremonial dance in one or another of the villages. The young men and girls arrange rabbit drives, creating their own opportunities for courting.

                A rabbit hunt is announced and the girls begin preparation of little cakes of cornmeal,
                tied in corn husks and boiled. On the appointed day, the young people leave the village
                early, scamper down the trail and out into the valley, where they form a large circle.
                Each hunter carries a rabbit-stick, carved from tough mountain oak and roughly
                resembling a boomerang.

                The circle of hunters slowly contracts and the rabbits caught within its limits
                flee toward the center. One of the hunters throws his rabbit-stick and a
                good-natured scramble ensues. The air is full of flying sticks and scurrying
                rabbits. When the first rabbit is hit, all the girls race to claim the fallen animal.

                The winner of the race returns to the
                hunters and coyly rewards the killer of the
                rabbit with some of the little cakes that
                were prepared before leaving the village.
                He, in turn, politely offers to share his
                reward with all the other young men.

                The hunt develops into an all-day picnic, with
                all the amorous byplay usually present at
                such affairs. By evening the group has fairly
                well resolved itself into couples, and each
                maiden presents what remains of her corn
                cakes to the man of her particular interest.
                He will take these home and present them
                to his parents, thereby announcing his
                romantic inclinations.                                     Above is a the Hopi Butterfly Dance in the Hopi Village.

                Marriage among the Hopi Indians is a highly involved affair, requiring the consent, not only of the
                parents of the prospective bride and groom, but of other relatives as well. The maternal uncles are
                invariably consulted. Clan relationships must be considered; no Hopi Indian may marry within his own
                clan: Eventually, the mothers make the decision as to the desirability of the match, for the mother
                owns and rules the home, including the children and the harvest.

                All children are of the mother's clan. The man of the house may dance in the ceremonies, he may be
                the leader of the interminable discussions of village affairs, and he will slave in the fields to
                conjure a crop of corn.

                He plants with patience and ceremony-so many kernels for the hot wind, sp many for the field rat,
                so many for the ground worms, build a small stone fence around each individual hill to protect the
                tender shoots. In fact, he will grow corn where no other farmer would consider it possible. Yet,
                when the crop is harvested and the Hopi Indian share carried across the home threshold, that corn
                belongs to his wife, and not one ear may be removed without her consent.

                Among the more conservative Hopi Indians, he may not even punish his own children. The mother's
                brothers are called upon for this task. So it is with marriage. Since earliest spring, all the men and
                boys of the village have been on the lookout for eagle nests.

                When a nest is found its location is reported to the members of the Eagle clan, who maintain a
                careful watch until the newly hatched birds appear ready to fly. The eaglets are then captured and
                taken the village, where they are chained to the housetops. The captured birds are fed on mice and
                rabbits and, in general, receive the attention reserved for distinguished guests.

                In late July the Niman Kachina dance will be held and, on the day following the dance, all the eagles
                will be killed. A member of the Eagle clan climbs to each housetop, sprinkles some blessed cornmeal
                in symbolic patterns and breathes a prayer to the appropriate spirit.

                Covering the bird with a blanket, he returns to the ground, choking the eagle to death as he
                descends the ladder. The feathers are plucked from the dead eagles by the Eagle priests, sorted
                and stored for use in the ceremonies.

                The tail feathers are used on Kachina masks; the wing feathers will be sewed along the sleeves of
                the costumes worn in the Eagle dance, simulating the eagle's wings; the small feathers and down will
                be reserved for the making of prayer-sticks. On each of the four corners of the wedding robes to
                be worn by new brides will be fastened small bundles of prayer feathers from the breast of the
                eagle, near the heart.

                An In-depth Look at Hopi Native American Rituals

                Death Ritual- Pahos
                Death, too, comes to the Hopi Indians, and a plentiful supply of the essential eagle feathers must
                be at hand for the making of pahos. When the medicine man seeks to drive away the evil that causes
                illness, he places a paho of eagle feathers on the path leading away from the village. Otherwise, the
                evil spirit may not even know which direction to travel. Should the ministrations of the medicine
                man prove ineffective and the patient die, the spirit must be helped on its journey to the

                The bodies of the plucked eagles are buried in the eagle burying ground at the foot of the mesa.
                Food is placed in the grave and prayers are offered, as in the case of a human. After the death of a
                Hopi Indian, a woman of the family washes the hair with yucca-root suds and otherwise prepares the
                body for burial. A cotton mask is tied over the face. A prayer paho, of the finest eagle down, is
                bound to a lock of hair with cotton yarn and made to fall forward over the face.

                In the case of a woman, her wedding robe is used as her shroud; a man is wrapped in an ordinary
                blanket. The body is arranged in a sitting position in a corner of the room.

                An official mourner is designated by members of the family, and it is the duty of this individual to
                scold the dead person for going away and causing sorrow in the village.

                The burial is conducted at night by the father or nearest male relative, with one male relative to
                assist in carrying the body from the mesa to the burial ground in the flat below. Here the corpse is
                placed in the grave in a sitting position. No train of mourners accompanies the funeral party.

                The men return to the house and participate in purification ceremonies which include the house as
                well as their persons. Sacred meal is sprinkled throughout the room, pinon twigs are burned in the
                fireplace and the men bathe hands and feet. Only then may they rejoin the family circle and the
                routine of family life be resumed.

                Prayer feathers, attached to cotton yarn, are placed at the grave to point out the direction the
                spirit must travel to its future home in the Underworld. For four days food and prayer-feathers
                are placed at the grave. During the ensuing months new pahos are placed in rock shrines at a
                distance from the village, where they may be found by the spirit of the dead.

                Niman Kachina Ritual Dance
                During the latter part of July, each village holds its Niman Kachina or Going Home dance. This is the
                last dance of the Hopi Indian year in which the Kachinas participate. At the end of the dance these
                half-gods, kindly guardians of village well-being, disappear over the edge of the mesa and off into
                the distance toward the San Francisco mountains.

                There they will remain until the first winter ceremony is held in November. The Niman Kachina
                ceremony lasts for eight days. The first seven days are spent in the kiva, an underground
                ceremonial room, where the participants conduct the secret rites and make the pahos to be
                presented to the Kachinas during the public dance on the eighth day.

                As many as fifty fantastically costumed dancers may participate in the dance, each wearing a
                grotesque mask and colorful headdress. The dance drama is brilliantly performed to the difficult
                rhythms of chanted story songs. The vibrant booming of the single accompanying drum reaches to
                the farthest corner of the village, its hypnotic cadences hurrying the people toward the dance plaza.

                The dance lasts all day, with brief intermissions during which the mud heads, or clowns, perform
                their comic pantomimes for the entertainment of the  audience.  Spectators perch themselves at
                every available vantage point, including the roofs of the houses surrounding the plaza.

                Late in the afternoon, just before the last appearance of the dancers, all the village brides,
                married since the last Niman Kachina dance, enter the plaza. After her wedding, no bride may
                attend any village dance until the next Niman Kachina dance.

                Now, accompanied by her mother-in-law, each bride takes her place behind the
                dancers. Dressed in complete wedding costumes of pure white robes, buckskin
                moccasins and leggings and long fringed woven belts, and carrying the
                traditional reed rolls, the brides present a very pretty picture.
                Right: Snake Dance

                Snake Dance Ritual
                The Niman Kachina dance is hardly over until preparations are begun in the kiva
                for the best known of all Hopi Indian dances, the Snake dance. The ceremony lasts eight days, with
                the public dance limited to a short period late in the afternoon of the last day.

                The rites are announced by the village crier, who ascends to a housetop, and, in a voice of amazing
                carrying power, informs the villagers that the ceremony will begin after so many days. In four days,
                members of the Snake society go out into the desert to hunt for the snakes to be used in the
                dance, each day heading in a different direction: Each hunter carries a large sack to hold the
                captured snakes, a sack of sacred cornmeal and a feathered snake whip.

                The snakes are tracked down, sprinkled with meal and then stroked with the snake whip until they
                uncoil, when the hunters seize them behind the head and thrust them into the snake sacks.

                While some of the snakes will be common bull snakes, the most desirable and the largest number
                will be vicious desert rattlesnakes. The snakes are taken to the kiva for purification ceremonies.
                Here they are washed and sprinkled with sacred meal, in preparation for their public appearance in
                the dance. On the day of the dance, a snake house of cottonwood branches, or kisi, is constructed in
                the dance plaza, over a hole in the rock.

                A bag of snakes is placed in this hole just before the dancers enter the plaza, and the hole is
                covered with a board. Soon the Antelope dancers appear. They circle the dance area four times, and
                as each dancer passes the snake hole, he stamps his foot vigorously on the board.

                This is to advise the snakes that the dance has begun. The Antelope dancers sprinkle the area with
                sacred meal, chanting a weird song of forgotten origin, and then form a line across the plaza. Now
                the Snake dancers enter the plaza, their painted faces and bodies frozen in the rigid postures of
                the fanatical dance.

                They circle the plaza four times, and they, too, stamp violently on the board covering the snake
                hole. A new chant is begun by the Antelope dancers, and the Snake dancers assume positions facing
                them. The kisi is blessed by a Snake priest. The Snake dancers divide into pairs and, as each pair
                approaches the kisi, the Snake priest thrusts his arm into the hole and draws out a snake.

                The snake is quickly passed to one of the two partners, who thrusts it out in front of his face, while
                his partner gently strokes the hissing reptile with his feather whip, attracting its attention from
                the carrier. Now the dancer places the twisting snake in his mouth, holding it at about the middle of
                its length. The snake's head and tail are free to twist in any direction.

                The pair of dancers completely circle the dance area, and the snake is then dropped to the ground.
                Another dancer, called the gatherer, will confine the now fighting mad snake to the limits of the
                dance area by the judicious use of his feather snake whip.

                Other pairs of dancers receive their snakes from the Snake priest, circle the plaza and release
                the snakes. Soon the entire dance area is a mass of twisting, squirming snakes and grotesquely
                painted dancers, gyrating against a background of ancient chants and the colorful costumes of every
                last spectator who could squeeze into the limited space around the plaza. Truly, it is a barbaric
                festival, but it is an important tradition for the Hopi..

                Finally, the supply of snakes is exhausted. A large circle of sacred meal is inscribed in the center of
                the plaza, and all the snakes are gathered within its limits. At a signal from the Snake chief, certain
                of the dancers catch up great handfuls of the writhing snakes, rush down the trails to the desert
                below, and there release them to carry the message of the Hopi Indians' need for rain to the Rain

                The runners return to the village, and all of the dancers go to the kiva for purification rites.
                Before the night is over, the rain will come. It never fails. No sickly drizzle follows the Snake
                dance, but a downpour of cloudburst proportions. They are Hopi Indianng that the Snake brothers
                of the Hopi Indians were pleased with the ceremony and have interceded with the proper gods. Was
                not the Snake dance the enactment of a prayer for rain?

                Birth Ritual
                The excitement of the dance had barely subsided when Chochu's family had occasion for a
                celebration of its own. A new baby was born to Chochu's oldest sister, and while the home already
                was crowded, room would be found for the newcomer. Hopi Indian babies are always welcome.

                When a Hopi Indian woman goes to her ordeal, she goes alone. Carrying a perfect ear of corn,
                selected when she first learn that she is to have a child, she enters the prepared room and closes
                the door. No one may enter until the first cry of the newly born child is heard. The grandmother
                then goes in to the room to assist in caring for the baby. For nine days, the mother must remain in a
                darkened room, and for twenty days, the sun may not shine on her, nor may she wear her moccasins.

                The passing of the days is recorded by scratching marks on the wall of the room; a perfect ear of
                corn is placed under each mark. Later, this corn will be ground into the sacred meal to be used in
                the naming ceremony, on the twentieth day.

                During the nineteenth night, pigame, a kind of sweet mush pudding, has been baking in an
                underground pit, A mutton and hominy stew boils over the fire. Soon the guests begin to arrive,
                each bearing trays of finely ground meal or perfect ears of corn. Bowls of yucca-root suds are
                prepared for the washing of the mother and child.

                Four lines of sacred meal are drawn on the floor of the room; an eagle feather paho is placed where
                they cross in the center. A bowl of yucca suds is placed over the paho, and here the mother kneels
                and dips her hair into the bowl.

                The baby is washed with yucca suds, and its entire body rubbed with ashes from the fireplace. Corn
                pollen is sprinkled on the baby's face, and white cornmeal is patted over its body. All present,
                except the mother, dip ears of corn into the yucca suds and lightly touch the child's head, at the
                same time suggesting names for the newest member of the family.

                The father leaves the room and climbs to the housetop, to watch for the coming of the sun. The
                baby is placed in a cradle-board, its face carefully covered with a tiny blanket. Now, the father
                warns that the sun is about to rise above the distant horizon. Below: Hopi Indian Naming ritual.

                The grandmother casts a handful of sacrificed meal toward the sun, at the same time repeating the
                name she has selected during the naming ritual at the washing rites.

                Family and guests now return to the house to enjoy the feast of good things prepared during the
                night. Only the mother may not participate. She must go to the sweat-house to complete her
                purification rites, and only then may she resume her normal place in the home.

                Wedding Ritual
                Chochu's mother reminded her that the time for returning to school was near, and that preparation
                for this event must be started at once. The girl shyly replied that she had no intention of returning
                to school; that, instead she would remain at home and marry that young man who had courted her all
                through the summer.

                Her announcement caused neither surprise nor objections on the mother's part; all through the
                summer she had watched the budding of the romance, pleased that her daughter had limited her
                attentions to this one boy.

                When a Hopi Indian girl decides that she wants a certain man for a husband, she grinds cornmeal
                very fine, piles it and rolled piki high in a basket plaque, and carries the plaque to the home of the
                young man's mother. She places the plaque on the doorstep and hurries home to await the outcome
                of her proposal.

                If the girl is acceptable to the young man's mother, the plaque is taken into the house and the piki
                eaten by the boy and his near relatives. If, by any chance, the girl is not wanted as a
                daughter-in-law, the plaque remains on the doorstep until a brother or other male relative of the
                girl secretly removes it, thus saving her public embarrassment.

                The cornmeal and piki offered by Chochu were readily
                accepted by Edward's family, and soon the mothers
                were busy planning for the wedding. No definite date
                was set; that would depend on the grinding of the
                cornmeal with which the bride must pay for her
                     At Right: Hopi Making Piki

                For nearly a month Chochu, with the help of women
                friends and other women of her family, knelt at the
                grinding stones many hours each day. The stacked
                baskets of meal grew mightily.

                One evening, just after dark, Edward came to the home of his bride, to escort her to his mother's
                house. Now it was time for the ceremony to begin. With Chochu carrying a large plaque of cornmeal,
                the pair returned across the plaza to Edward's home, where the real task of earning her husband
                confronted the girl.

                Early the next morning, Chochu was up and at the grinding stones. Many of the boy's maternal aunts
                came to the house during the day. They carefully examined the fineness of the ground meal, and
                loudly protested the wedding, claiming the boy to be theirs.

                Threats were hurled against the girl, for wanting the boy; and against his father, for consenting to
                the wedding. The aunts finally left the house, but with a warning that further trouble could be

                Carefully concealed from visitors, the bride spent all of the next day at the seemingly endless task
                of grinding corn. She ground corn for Edward's mother, his grandmother and his aunts, and for all
                the families in his immediate relationship.

                The boasting of the boy's aunts that trouble could be expected was not idle talk. On the morning of
                the third day after the bride went to the boy's home, they assembled a large group of the women
                of their families at one of the homes, making especially sure to include those whose sharp tongues
                would lend zest to the day's program.

                Stringing out across the plaza toward the boy's house, each woman carried a large bowl or basket of
                very sticky mud. The women gathered before the house and began a fairly mild discussion of the
                bride's lack of qualifications and the general undesirability of the wedding.

                The pace of the discourse soon quickened, and all traces of mildness disappeared from the
                statements of the visitors. The bride's faults, real and imaginary, were proclaimed to all who would
                listen, and by this time quite an audience, all women, had gathered.

                At the first indication that this was to be the day of the aunts' visit, all the men had retired to the
                kivas or gone down to the fields. If the man was caught in the area, his clothes would be torn off,
                and his body smeared with mud.

                The name-calling continued, the voices of the embattled women becoming louder and their
                statements more caustic. Doubt was expressed concerning the habits of the young lady, and even
                her morals were questioned.

                Suddenly, someone threw some of the sticky mud, and now the battle was on in earnest. The
                answers from within the house became just as rowdy as the statements from outside. The aunts'
                party attacked the door of the house and finally pushed it open.

                Rushing to the hiding place of the little bride, they daubed her face with mud, as they heaped abuse
                on her quivering shoulders. The father of the boy was found and dragged out into the village street.
                Of all the men, only he was obligated to remain at home to participate in the undignified roughhouse
                that is a part of every Hopi Indian wedding.

                The women cut his hair and pelted him with mud until he was completely unrecognizable. They again
                turned their attention to the house and threw great gobs of mud at the outside, then the inside,
                and finally, at everyone in the vicinity. The place became a shambles, the inside a mud hole.

                Tiring, at last, and running out of both mud and invectives, the women retired from the scene and
                returned to their homes. Chochu and her parents-in-law immediately began the task of cleaning
                themselves and the house. By evening, some semblance of order had been established, and the house
                was sufficiently clean for the return visit of the women.

                This time they brought peace offerings of plaques, stacked high with piki. The bride's parents and
                relatives came to the house later in the evening, and brought great trays of cornmeal, previously
                ground by the bride and her friends, to be used in the actual wedding ceremony.

                The following morning, long before daybreak, the families of the bride and groom assembled for the
                wedding. Two bowls of yucca suds were prepared and placed on the floor, side by side. The bride
                and groom took their places behind the bowls, squatting on the floor. The two mothers unbound and
                washed their hair, proclaiming them to be married and accepting them as son and daughter of both
                families.  At Right is Hopi Indian girl wearing Wedding Manta.

                The bodies of the bridal pair, from the waist up, were washed in the
                foaming suds and, after resuming their blouses, Edward and Chochu
                rose from the floor to mingle with their guests. They were now
                husband and wife. This is how all Hopi Indians enter marriage.

                During the next few days many of the village people came to
                Edward's home to express their good wishes for the happiness and
                prosperity of the couple, and to bring gifts. Many brought native
                wild cotton, to be spun into yarn for the weaving of the bride's
                wedding robes. The next day the cotton was taken to the kiva
                where Edward belonged, and the work of spinning the yarn began.

                For a week many men of Edward's family spent every spare moment
                spinning the great balls of yarn that would be required. The women
                were equally busy preparing food for the spinners, who must be fed
                at the home of the bridegroom's parents.

                Much of the cooking and household drudgery fell to the new bride,
                who would remain in the house of her mother-in-law, working for her
                husband's family, until the robes had been woven.

                A great feast was held on the day the weaving was begun. The men set up the looms in the kiva, and,
                after the warps were thrown, gathered at the bridegroom's house to consume great quantities of
                hominy and mutton stew. Day after day the weaving continued, with many of Edward's relatives
                taking turns at the looms. The bridegroom secured the reeds for the making of the reed roll.

                Other relatives completed the buckskin moccasins and leggings, whitening the soft leather with
                finely ground clay. At last, everything was finished, even to the attaching of the small bundles of
                eagle prayer-feathers at each corner of the robe and the embroidered, feather trimmed tassels at
                the bottom corners. The men sent word from the kiva that the bridal procession would take place
                after four days.

                On the appointed day the weavers delivered the wedding robes to the bride, and were rewarded
                with more mutton stew. Assisted by all the women of the household. Chochu donned the beautiful
                garments and prepared for the return to the home of her mother.

                Carrying the reed roll in her outstretched arms, she stepped daintily through the doorway and into
                the plaza as the women of the groom's family, carrying bowls of food, started in the direction of
                the bride's family home.

                Chochu, glancing neither to right nor to left, walked alone across the plaza, her shining white robes
                accenting the soft brown of her face and the brilliant black of her hair. There was an air of great
                excitement at the door of her mother's house as the little bride was joyfully welcomed home.

                Soon the bride was back at the endless task of grinding corn. Not until hundreds of pounds of meal
                were ground would payment for her husband and wedding robes be completed; not until then could
                the bride claim her husband and bring him home. Again her women friends helped, and at last the
                gigantic task was finished.

                The cornmeal was piled high on basket plaques and taken to the mother-in-law's house. That evening,
                after dark, Chochu clasped Edward by the hand and led him across the plaza. Her mother's home
                would be their home from now on, or at least, until such time as the coming of their children would
                require the building of additional rooms to the house or the construction of a separate house close

                The young couple quickly slipped into the routine of adult village life. Each day Edward went to the
                fields or to tend the sheep. Chochu assumed a substantial share of the homemaking tasks and
                devoted much of her spare time to the weaving of the basket' for which her village is famous. At
                the end of the day, as they watched the great red ball of the sun sink below the desert's rim,
                either might be heard to say softly. "Lo-lo-mai" (Life is good).

                Hough, W. (2009). The Hopi Indians.
                Water, F. (1977). Book of the Hopi.