Kokopelli attacks


Teri Paul, the director of a state park museum in Blanding, Utah, found herself the victim of a surprise attack recently. The cause? An anatomically correct statue of Kokopelli, a fertility god of ancient Indians, which has greeted visitors to the Edge of the Cedars Park Museum since 1989. Kokopelli, a well-known denizen of the Four Corners area, is usually portrayed on 800-year-old rock-art panels as a humpbacked flute player with a formidable male appendage. These days his profile has become a tourism cliché — you can find his image on everything from dangly earrings and place mats to coffee mugs. But to a Blanding group of women calling themselves the “Values Committee,” the Kokopelli statue had — after 19 years — suddenly become an embarrassment. As state park director Mary Tullius put it, the group complained that the statue “is too phallic.”  Park manager Paul was about to banish Kokopelli and his offending member from the park, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, when another group of locals protested that the banishment amounted to censorship. Paul then tried to compromise, moving the fertility god deeper into the park and away from the committee’s sensitive eyes. But one of the counter-protesters, Bluff resident Susan Dexter, found the flap overblown and thought park officials were too quick to capitulate: “Kokopelli is just a statue. Give me a break. It’s not like a massive erection like some of the ones you see on the panels.” Dexter suspected the women of the Values Committee were out of touch: “These poor ladies have never been to Florence or Rome or any actual art museum. They would be scandalized.”

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