Hopis attack false kachinas

  • Eagle Dancer made by a Navajo artisan

    Paul Natonabah
  In recent years, tourists have bought tens of thousands of kachinas, many of which are mass produced by Navajos. "We can't keep up with the demand," says Steve Roberts, manager of a factory in Thoreau, N.M., where the carved, wooden figurines representing ancestral Hopi spirits are turned out. But, the Navajos may not be able to sell kachinas much longer. The Hopi Tribe is considering proposals to copyright or trademark kachinas made by Hopi artisans to keep the Navajos from selling cheap look-alikes. Genuine kachinas, which hold religious significance for the Hopi, take weeks or months of hand crafting and often cost five times as much as the Navajo dolls. "It's upsetting because (the Navajos) are just into this for the money," says Laurinda Secakuku, who runs an arts and crafts store on the Hopi reservation. "They've taken a sacred thing to Pueblo Indians and exploited it for their selfish interest." Roberts says the Navajo are just making mementos for budget-conscious consumers who are more concerned about price than the quality or religious significance of kachinas. According to Duane Beyal, press aide to Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah: "All the Navajos want to do is earn a living so they can put groceries on the table."

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