Friday, April 15, 2011

Rethinking Hopi Katsina Tithu and Museum Language Systems

A new publication, offering free online access. More on the Denver Museum of Nature & Science Annals Series here.

Lost in Translation: Rethinking Hopi Katsina Tithu and Museum Language Systems

By Rachel E. Maxson, Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, and Lee Wayne Lomayestewa

This report presents the ways in which Hopi katsina tithu—popularly known as kachina dolls—are outstanding examples of objects that museums can recontextualize with Native terminology. The etymology, or a word or phrase’s use history, of each katsina tihu’s name documents the deep connection of these objects with Hopi belief, ritual, and history. Without including the complex practices of Hopi naming, documentation of these objects in museum catalogues is often incomplete and inaccurate. Using contemporary Hopi perspectives, historic ethnographies, and the Hopi Dictionary to create a database of Hopi katsina tithu names, this project demonstrates how museums might incorporate intangible heritage into their collections through language and etymological context.

Free online access here, or get a print copy here.

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