American Artscape Notable Quotable: A Culture of Survival
"Our culture has a lot of survival and, of course, prayer, songs, and storytelling, to remind us of who we are and that not everything is all doom and gloom. We’re going to get through this."
-Donna Humetewa Kaye
Bob Rhodes recalled a moment several months ago, when a mentor from Hopitutuqaki, an art school that teaches traditional Hopi art forms, called the school’s office in tears. The woman had just received an unexpected $1,200 check, which represented her salary from the classes she had been scheduled to teach at the school last spring, all of which had been canceled due to COVID-19. Made possible by CARES Act funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the check proved critical to the woman’s overall security. Without the check, “They would’ve had a hard time,” Rhodes said, noting that the sum amounted to a second stimulus check. “That extra $1,200 made a huge difference to them.”
Located in Kykotsmovi, Arizona, the heart of the Hopi Nation, Hopitutuqaki was founded by Rhodes in 2002; he retired as the school’s facilitator, or chief administrative officer, in September. Although Hopi culture has endured for well over a thousand years—Oraibi, one of 12 Hopi villages spread across three mesas, is considered the oldest continuously occupied community in the United States—there are aspects that continue to be endangered, most notably its language and several art forms, such as the Third Mesa style of basket weaving. Rhodes started the school to counteract these losses, and to preserve traditional Hopi craft processes.
With the school’s closure throughout the pandemic however, the economic and cultural losses have been profound. And yet, Hopitutuqaki continues to persevere, exemplifying the Hopi Nation's culture of survival.