Tuesday, April 22, 2014

From Second Mesa to Sedona

Easter Morning dawned clear at the Hopi Cultural Center. As we went from our room to the dining hall we chatted briefly with the young men and women putting the finishing touches on the piñatas for the Easter festivities. But we did not remain for those. We were scheduled to make the brief trip of about 80 miles to our next stop, as culturally different as can be, Sedona.

But, first, we had heard of the Katsina dances being held in Moenkopi, a Hopi village located near the Navajo settlement at Tuba City. (The land arrangements here are complicated, to say the least.) Unlike many Hopi ceremonies, these were open to the public, so, with some good advice on deportment from an Anglo who lived in the area with his Hopi wife, we set out.

Of course, I was unable to photograph any aspect of the village or the dances, but just witnessing them was enough. They were held in the central plaza between two rows of houses. We had the good fortune to arrive just as one of the dances began. The dancers were dressed as you see them in standard depictions and this was a serious dance. I cannot ever pretend to have understood any of the rituals performed, but these are early planting dances, prayers for fertility and a good growing season and perhaps this drought cycle made them even the more intense. There were about eighty dancers ranged in an oval, all men, of every age and stature. The Hopi tend to be short and thick, we fit right in, though we were two or only four “anglos” we saw there. The beat of the drums was hypnotic, you could feel it and soon my body picked it up. It was a fitting and appropriate way to spend Easter morning.

After the dance ended around mid-day the question was where to go and what to do. We had a late, specified check-in at our bed and breakfast (loosely construed, more on that, perhaps, later), so we had a day to kill. Under the heading of it seemed like a good idea at the time, we decided to drive 178 miles southeast to the Petrified National Forest. We got there barely in time to stroll about looking at the fallen trees before heading out to head to our “real” destination of Sedona.

On Monday we look forward to lunch with pen buddy Jon Messer and his wife Beth and strolling through Sedona itself.

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