Repatriation Initiative Receives Endorsement from Hopi Elders

At the invitation of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, HMRP presented the results of this summer’s research to the Hopi Cultural Resources Advisory Task Team (CRATT) at its December 17, 2009 meeting. CRATT, a body of Hopi village and clan representatives who advise the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (HCPO), provided valuable insights into how the Hopi recordings in the Laura Boulton Collection at Columbia University could be repatriated to the Hopi people.

The support of CRATT members and Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, HCPO director, during the meeting provided significant momentum for HMRP as the project moves forward with additional research this summer. The goal of this first meeting with CRATT was primarily to outline the project, present a few of the recordings as examples of the more than 6 hours of Hopi music archived in Columbia’s Center for Ethnomusicology, and to find out how the collection might be of use to Hopi villages and clans. The opinion given by these traditional leaders was overwhelmingly in favor of returning the recordings and the copyrights to the Hopi people. Just how the recordings might be used and the specifics of who should hold the rights were the subject of significant dialog, and additional conversations on these topics will be the the theme for additional meetings with HCPO and CRATT over the course of this year. As Kuwanwisiwma explained, “There is a delegated authority vested in CPO and our CRAT team here, but how to work it out–how to protect the music–that’s all of our job here to do.”

Several of the songs presented were familiar to CRATT members, and some have perpetuated almost identically through the collective memory of kiva societies and villages.  CRATT members were able to recognize and identify many of the voices and songs on the recordings.  Perhaps the highlight of the event was the presentation of one of the recorded kööyemsi (mud head katsina) songs recorded by Laura Boulton in Hoatvela (Hotevilla) around late July of 1940.  Nearly every member of CRATT joined in to sing, showcasing how many of the songs captured by Boulton continue to be a vibrant part of Hopi life nearly 70 years later.

HMRP thanks HCPO and CRATT for their invitation to present these songs and for their support of this important project.


About trevor99

Hopi scholar at Columbia University writing about repatriating his people's music to its rightful owners
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2 Responses to Repatriation Initiative Receives Endorsement from Hopi Elders

  1. Congratulations to everyone involved. This is a great project and one that I will write about in my anthropology textbooks and describe to my students.

  2. Pingback: Hopi Music Repatriation Project « Beyond the Mesas

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