Native Village
Youth and Education news

December 2009  Volume 4

Michael Kabotie, 1942-2009: Swine flu claims Hopi artist
Douglas Fairfield

Condensed by Native Village

Arizona: Famed Hopi artist Michael Kabotie has passed away due to complications from the H1N1 flu. He was 67. His daughter, Meg Adakai, said Kabotie had been ill weeks before he died.

"His wide range of work, from silver jewelry and kachina carvings to his large-scale colorful paintings, draw on the Hopi traditions he grew up with ... " said Shelby Tisdale, director of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. "I will always remember his warm smile, his subtle way of teasing, his contagious sense of humor, and his gentle way of teaching the world about Hopi art and culture."

Michael was the son of Fred Kabotie (1900-1986), who was self-taught and among the very first students at the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1920s. Michael was multi-talented in sculpture, painting, printmaking, and metalwork. He was also a writer and poet.

Kabotie was a founding member of Artists Hopid, an organization dedicated to new ways of seeing traditional Hopi art forms. In 2003, he was named an Arizona Living Treasure by the Arizona Indian Living Treasures Awards, Inc. Just this year, Kabotie was the featured artist for the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in Phoenix.

"Michael was a quiet man, with a deep respect for the traditions of his Hopi culture," said Heard Museum director Frank Goodyear, Jrt. "He made powerful images drawn from Hopi artistic traditions that are testimonies to his own creative excellence. His death leaves us deeply saddened."

Kabotie was born on the Second Mesa on the Hopi Reservation. He was raised in the village of Shungopavi and graduated from Haskell Indian School in Kansas.

In 1967, according to his Web site, he underwent his Hopi manhood initiation into the Wuwutsim Society and was given his Hopi name, Lomawywesa, or Walking in Harmony.

Kabotie's work is represented in many public and private collections, including the Heard Museum, Museum of Humankind (London), and the Gallery Calumet-Neuzzinger (Germany).

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