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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


April 20, 2002 - Issue 59


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Hopi Sinom Club Performs in DC

Article and Photos by Stan Bindell The Navajo-Hopi Observer

Hopi Sinom Club membersThe Hopi Sinom Club drew rave reviews for performing at the Smithsonian Institution’s Spring Equinox Celebration in Washington D.C. The event was sponsored by the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in anticipation of its opening of the National Mall Museum in the fall of 2004.

The Hopi Sinom Club comes from Hopi Junior/Senior High School. The Hopi Sinom Club performed the Pahlikmana Dance - known as the Liquid-drinking Maiden Dance.

This is part of the Hopi ceremony that represents the reproduction of life. It is also significant for rain and other moisture it can bring, representing a bountiful harvest and sustenance for life.

In times of drought, a request for a Pahlikmana ceremony can be made. The ceremony can also be done for curing illness and to dispel sadness. Hopi people live in an arid environment and practice dry farming. According to the Hopi tradition, spiritual preparation for the new year begins with the Winter Solstice. Several events take place before the spring equinox. The Pahlikmana is usually danced within the Hopi calendar month of Osomuya (March) to assure an abundance of moisture to assist with the development of new crops.

This ceremony also enhances the persistence of life.

The first corn is planted 20 days after equinox. Each village has its own interpretation of Pahlikmana. The Hopi Sinom Club uses the version from Old Oraibi. The Hopi Sinom Club entourage included students Christopher Polivema, Yanaka Pewo, Anthony Puhuhesva, Chelsea Laban, Cliffany Mowa and Raymond Namoki. The adult leaders on the trip were Roger Mase, Cynthia Mase, Jessie Talaswaima and Mark Talaswaima Jr.

Jessie Talaswaima said she was proud of the way the young dancers performed and acted.

She wondered whether it was a coincidence that their performance brought rain. She praised NMAI for paying for everything from the flight and the hotel to the food. “We gave an impressive performance. We danced hard and our dancers were synchronized,” she said. Talaswaima praised Susan Secakuku, former Hopi Chairman Ferrell Secakuku’s daughter from NMAI for giving the Hopi Sinom Club the cultural tour of Washington D.C.

Yanaka Pewo, a 16-year-old junior, said the trip and dance performance was eye-opening for her because she had never done anything like it. “I hope we can do it again some time because it gave me a greater outlook on life. Not only for what’s available in the Southwest, but all over,” she said. “We received a lot of compliments and I was happy with our performance.” Pewo enjoyed visiting the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and Smithsonian Castle.

Pewo said other students should join the Hopi Sinom Club so they could get to go places and participate in activities. She is the daughter of Lorraine Choyou from First Mesa.
Chelsea Laban, a 13-year-old seventh grader, said she enjoyed sharing her Hopi dances and culture with the people. “It was cool,” she said. “Everybody performed well.” Laban is the daughter of Barbara Polingyouma and Vernon Laban from Old Oraibi.

Chris Polivema, an 18-year-old senior, noted that the Hopi Sinom Club performed twice during the ceremony. He thought the second performance was better. “The crowd was happy and pleased to see Native Americans performing. There was mostly non-natives in the crowd. We were glad to share our culture and dance,” he said.

Polivema said he enjoyed seeing the monuments, the National Geographic Building and the White House. He is graduating this year and plans to attend Eastern Arizona College, but he hopes to be able to continue to travel with the Hopi Sinom Club. He is the son of Rose Mary Polivema and Marvin Talayumptewa of Kykotsmovi.

The other performers at the event were Sadie Buck (Seneca, Turtle Clan), Nalani Olds (Hawaiian), Inkhay (Andean) and Native Roots. Richard West, director of NMAI, said this was the first of four equinox celebrations that will lead to the opening of the National Mall Museum. “This serves as reminders of the important relationships between native peoples and the seasonal influence of the sun, moon and stars,” he explained. “From the south facing prisms that capture the sun’s rays and animate the interior of the Potomac withspectacular displays of light and color, to the abstracted solar burn pattern tracing the path of the sun on the Copper Screen Wall, the National Museum will be infused with subtle, yet striking, design elements.”

West noted that native perspectives of cosmology will be incorporated into the museum’s three inaugural exhibitions, “Our Lives, Our Peoples, and Our Universes.” He said the mall’s landscape design; building design and exhibition elements evoke the beauty and fluidity of the solar system, and the secular world, at every turn.

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