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  • Writer's pictureSteven James

January 2023, Update

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Hopefully everyone had a great beginning to 2023.I would like to wish everybody “Happy New Year and Blessings to all.”

Lynnettie Homer-Johnson from the Zuni Pueblo says it this way; ”Ek'stanishi chi'mona don'ah dahdo don ansamo yani chi'ya do.”

Kelly and Renae Lomakema from the Hopi village of Bacavi says it like this; “Puhuya'sangwuy ang uma ha'lay'yani. Uma umu'qatsiy' ö'qalyani.”

Winter has come and the Snow has appeared in the Mesas already.

Last year started out slow as far as feather donations are concerned,but began picking up in the Third Quarter which was great to see because Request for feathers are at an all time high.So I can say we are Blessed to see this January picking up also.

like we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s traditions at the end of the year, the Native peoples of America have always had their own traditions during this time of year. In fact, as February approaches the Hopi tradition of Powamuya is nearly ready to start. The English translation generally refers to it as the Bean Dance.

Understanding the Powamuya

As with most traditions, this ceremony is practical and spiritual. It is known as the purification month, which is a time when the people ready themselves to accept the spirits (Kachinas)back into their lives. This is all done in practical preparation for planting. Planting crops is an important event,and the people naturally call on a spiritual backing to make sure that things go well.

The Start of Powamuya

Like any tradition, this celebration is very well defined for the Hopi. It starts when their children are given their first beans to grow in the kivas. This happens before the full planting season begins. In this way, the planting of beans in the kivas is highly symbolic of what is to come. During this time, Muyingwa appears. Muyingwa is one of the revered Katsinam, and his appearance as chief and master is intended to encourage and guide these young people. He ushers them fully into the Katsina culture.

This is not merely a ceremony for the young people of the tribe. In fact, these young people are called upon to pray to the Katsinam, entreating these spirits to appear among the people. The Ahöla or high priest will also join the prayers, calling for a blessing of all the homes within the village.

With the beans planted, time is taken for sprouts to grow. More activities take place during this time. Whipper Katsinam moves through the villages at night, ensuring that all the people are behaving appropriately. If not, discipline is rendered. Children are whipped, but this act is intended to purify them. They need to be ready to meet their spirit beings.

The Culmination of the Bean Dance

When enough time has passed, the sprouts are presented to the tribe. In celebration, a procession begins. This procession is at the heart of the celebration. It winds through the village with the new initiates leading the way with traditional celebratory dancing. They provide gifts during the procession, handing them out to the people throughout the village. This can include dolls, dancing wands, bows and arrows and more. These gifts are blessings, intended to reward good behavior.any Feathers are are used to adorn the many gifts.

However, as part of the tradition, there are also punishments handed out. Spiritual guides such as Grandmother Katsina or the Soyokos provide warnings to unruly children. The dancers also portray a family of ogres, who scare the young and old alike, reminding them to be obedient. Therefore, this time of purification serves as a time of reflection, charging all the people to make changes in the coming year.

Finally, the celebration ends with a special blessing, and there is a social dance to heal things. The bad spirits are forced out of the village, and the people are allowed to return to peace and productivity. In this manner, the celebration is intended for all the people. It is a very serious event with deep cultural implications for the Hopi. It lasts between nine and 16 days in February each year. The growth of the plants is taken as a sign of how productive the harvest will be in the coming year.

Thanks so much for your help to save the Wild Macaws,Parrots and the Rich Customs and Traditions of our Southwestern Native Americans. Please continue to save those beautiful molted feathers, large and small. Your helping in our endeavors,as always, is greatly appreciated.

Steven James

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