I lived in the Phoenix area for eighteen months and fell in love with the colorful Indian lure of the desert. Every weekend I traveled to see ruins of past civilizations that entranced me, captivated my imagination like little else has.
So to say that I was disappointed in my publisher’s decision is a huge understatement.
Kachinas (also called Katchinas) are Hopi holy spirits that live on the San Francisco Peaks in Arizona. They can be spirits of animals, deities, or deceased members of the Pueblo, and they act as messengers between spiritual domains and mortals. These supernatural beings visit Hopi villagers beginning at winter solstice and ending mid-July. Their most important role is to bring rain for spring crops.
For six months male members perform masked dances, impersonating Kachina spirits. They give cottonwood dolls to the children and teach them about the hundred of Kachina spirits through oral tradition. When the dancers are in costume, they become that spirit.
The Heard museum in Phoenix has the largest, most wonderful display of Kachina dolls in the world. If you get a chance, stop in. The Hopis have resisted pressure to produce the dolls commercially, so the souvenirs found in tourist gift shops are cheap reproductions.