AZ Evelyn Numkena says it takes about five minutes to make
one sheet of piki, which is cooked on a hot stone until dry.
"Then you do another one," said the young Shongopavi
Village native from Second Mesa, Ariz. as she dipped her fingers
in the batter of blue cornmeal and reed bush ash. She rubbed it
onto the highly heated, hard sedimentary rock that has been passed
down through generations.
Numkena then overlaid the baking piki with the previous sheet
to soften. Finally, the two transparent sheets were loosely rolled
into piki bread about 10 inches long and two inches in diameter.
Piki bread is a traditional staple of the Kiis'áanii
that is typically made on a slab of limestone secured in a dwelling
called a piki house.
"They're just small buildings," said one of Numkena's
family members. "They have a chimney going out."
However, Evelyn Numkena cooked her piki breads on a modern propane
burner over the weekend at the 80th annual Hopi Festival of Arts
The festival marked eight decades at the Museum of Northern
Arizona (MNA) in the pines where Donald Dawahongnewa and his niece,
Tiffany Bahnimptewa, started Saturday morning by singing several
of their traditional songs about the traditions of corn as it relates
to the Hopi way of life.
The festival continued with a Koshari Clown Dance performed
by the Nuvatukya'ovi (which means the San Francisco Peaks) Sinom
Dance Group that performed other dances throughout the day.
Koshari) is a Tewa clown with black and white stripes," said
Edward Honyestewa, an artist from Second Mesa who sold his alabaster
sculptures. "They try to show people how we are so we can fix
it and change for the better."
In fact, Tewa clown performances provide social control by demonstrating
how not to behave. According to Hopi culture, Tewa clowns are tradition
keepers and teach lessons about the good and bad in man.
Honyestewa's wife, Iva, sold baskets that she made from yucca.
"I started weaving 16 years ago," said Iva as she
showed her decorative baskets. "I do different items. I try
to find new ideas every year."
And so far, she has made cradleboards, sandals, and a three-dimensional
basket with a turtle in the center.
In the creative corner of the festivities, children made take-home
crafts including dolls made out of dried cornhusks.
"At the museum, we are very excited to reach the 80-year
mark for the Hopi festival, originally known as the Hopi Craftsman
The festival is "a place where culture, creativity, and
community happen," said museum director Robert Breunig in a
More than 53 Hopi artists gathered at this year's festival.
Among those artists included Ramson Lomatewama, a prolific artist
who works in many types of media especially glass work.
The MNA has a long and illustrious history and evokes the very
spirit of the Colorado Plateau, serving as the gateway to understanding
the region with nine exhibit galleries revealing native cultures,
artistic traditions, and natural sciences.