Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Song for the Horse Nation Spotlight: Counting Coup

Source: (National Museum of the American Indian)

The museum’s staff is busy this week putting the final touches on A Song for the Horse Nation, an exhibition opening this Saturday that traces the horse’s influence on American Indian tribes from the 1500s — when horses were first introduced to the Western Hemisphere — to the present day.

In the meantime, we thought we’d give you a sneak preview of the more than 122 objects, paintings and historic photographs in the exhibition. Today, we’re highlighting an object known as a “coup stick.”


Piikuni (Blackfeet) coup stick, late 19th century (NMAI 14/9565)

In the buffalo days of the mid-1800s, one way a Plains warrior demonstrated his bravery was by “counting coup,” that is, galloping up to an enemy and touching him, sometimes with a special stick made for that very purpose, instead of killing him. Coup sticks were also carried in ceremonial dances, during which warriors related stories of their courage and daring.

The rawhide horses attached to this coup stick represent the horses its owner rode in battle, and the hair locks are scalp replicas, made by attaching hair from a horse’s tail to a piece of cloth or rawhide and painting it red. Similarly, the hair on many warrior shirts is frequently taken from cherished horses because to carry a lock of hair was to hold some of the power from its source.

SOURCE: Song for the Horse Nation: Horses in Native American Cultures. ISBN-10: 1-55591-112-9 (softcover). The book is available for purchase online from the NMAI bookshop:


Leave a comment

Filed under A Song for the Horse Nation, Art, National Museum of the American Indian

All Good Clay Smells Like Rain Exhibit @ Pueblo Grande Museum

Maricopa Pottery Exhibit
Explore an ancient site in the heart of Phoenix

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park is the site of a 1,500 year-old Hohokam village ruin located just minutes away from Sky Harbor International Airport in metropolitan Phoenix and is a National Historic Landmark and Arizona Point of Pride.
Along our outdoor trail the museum features a platform mound and ballcourt ruin, replicated houses, and native plants.  Inside are three galleries, including a children’s hands-on gallery, and theatre. Throughout the year the museum hosts special events and programs. 


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hon Kachina Council: Call for nominations!

The Hon Kachina Council has announced its call for nominations for the organization’s 36th annual presentation of the Hon Kachina Volunteer Awards – Arizona’s most prestigious celebration of volunteerism. Up to seven recipients will be chosen from the nominations and honored at an exclusive awards presentation during the 2012 Awards event. In addition to extensive statewide publicity, each winner will receive a one-of-a-kind hand carved Hon Kachina doll, considered by the Hopi Indian culture as the most powerful healing Kachina, and a cash award for their nonprofit organization. Nominations are being accepted at the Hon Kachina Council’s website: All nominations must be submitted electronically or postmarked no later than Friday, March 30, 2012. For more information, contact Pam Betz at (480) 905-1578 or via email at

Leave a comment

Filed under Hon Kachina Council, Hopi

Hopi quilt exhibit featured at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson

Credits: University of Arizona
Arizona State Museum’s newest exhibit is a cozy one, featuring 20 Hopi quilts from the 1970s to the present. Hopi Quilts: Unique Yet Universal will run at the Arizona State Museum from January 21 through August 20, 2012.

While quilts and quilting are almost universally known in general American society, likely less familiar is the quilt-making tradition among the Hopi of northern Arizona. This small exhibit offers the opportunity to experience a familiar art form through a culturally unique lens. While at the Tuhisma show on Second Mesa in Hopi, I became familiar with Hopi quilting and didn’t realize that there was a long-standing tradition.

American quilting goes back to colonial times. As settlers and soldiers moved west, they brought quilts and quilting skills with them, introducing some Native American communities to the craft. Christian missionaries, particularly Mormons, introduced quilting along with other European homemaking skills to the Native people they were hoping to convert.  

The best known quilters in the southwestern United States are the Hopi, who have a long history of producing beautiful cotton and wool blankets, robes, belts, and ceremonial sashes.  Traditionally, men were the weavers among the Hopi, their looms set up in kivas, or ceremonial chambers.

From the 1880s on, quilting was embraced by both Hopi women and some men, and over the past century it has become a fixture in Hopi society. Hopi women quilt for many of the same reasons as other women – for wedding and baby gifts, for family use, for personal satisfaction, and in some cases, to sell. While many typical American quilt patterns are evident – “crazy quilt,” “log cabin,” “nine-patch” – a uniquely Hopi aesthetic is expressed through the use of katsina or butterfly imagery, for example, and pottery and basketry motifs. 

Beatrice A. Kabler, a quilter and a friend of Arizona State Museum, has loaned Hopi quilts for this exhibit.  Other quilts are on loan from Carolyn O’Bagy Davis, author of a book on Hopi quilts and guest-curator for the exhibit. Quilts from the museum’s permanent collections round out the presentation.

A quilter herself from Madison, Wisconsin, Beatrice Kabler lives in Green Valley. Of her interest in Hopi quilting, she explains, “Up until about 10 years ago, I had never heard of Native American quilting. One day I read in the newspaper about a talk being given by Carolyn O’Bagy Davis. Carolyn’s talk was on Hopi quilts, the topic of a book she had just written.” Kabler attended that lecture with two quilter friends and learned not only that Native Americans enjoyed quilting, but that Davis periodically delivered fabric and sewing supplies to the Hopi Mesas.

On one of Davis’ subsequent trips north, Kabler accompanied her.

“Then, as I would go back to Madison each summer, I’d invite my friends to parties and stipulate that their admission was fabric and sewing supplies, which I would to take to Hopi. Over time, I didn’t even have to ask, supplies just came and came and I’d be driving back to Green Valley with the back of my suburban full of supplies in addition to shipping additional supplies via UPS. Soon, my Madison friends were buying Hopi quilts, walling hangings, and blocks, and on and on.”

When asked about the quilts she is loaning to the museum for the exhibit, she explains, “I’m not a collector; I don’t buy just to have. The pieces I do have I bought because they have special meaning to me. My favorite is a little green and yellow quilt titled “My Mother’s House” by Karen Tootsie. I found it at a quilt show in Window Rock, Arizona. Karen is my friend and I was familiar with her very personal story of her mother’s house. I called her as soon as I bought it.”

More Information
Arizona State Museum is located on the University of Arizona campus, just NE of the Main Gate at Park Avenue and University Boulevard in Tucson.

Address: 1013 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721-0026


Information Courtesy: Arizona State Museum

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Hopi

The 10 Indian Commandments

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized