Monthly Meeting

March 2019

Katsinam, Clouds, and Kivas: Evidence of the Origins of Katsina Culture

Leon Natker and Ramson Lomatewama

7:30 PM, Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Albuquerque Museum of Art and History

2000 Mountain Road NW


Katsinam are an iconic symbol of the Native American southwest, but research on the genesis of the ceremonial practice, sometimes referred to as the Katsina cult, has been elusive. Earlier researchers, often using theoretical constructs based in colonialism, hypothesized it was an import, possibly from as far away as the valley of Mexico. In this paper we review earlier research on the origin of the Katsina culture, taking into account the theoretical constructs and assumptions earlier researchers used. We review more recent research that explores imagery of ceramics, rock art, and kiva murals, and the movement of trade goods containing these images, coupled with a more inclusive view of Puebloan epistemologies and oral history. Finally, we use this evidence to support the hypothesis that the Katsina culture is an indigenous part of the Ancestral Puebloan Southwest which dates back at least as far as the Pueblo II period, and that our conception of the Puebloan world needs to be expanded exponentially in order to fully explore the ancestral roots of Katsinam and Puebloan ritual practices.

Leon Natker, MA, RPA, Executive Director of the Mesa Historical Museum, is an archaeologist/anthropologist who holds degrees in Anthropology from ENMU and Museum Studies from UNM. He has worked in China at the Neolithic village of Yangguanzhai. In the Southwest Leon has participated in excavations and historic preservation projects including Chaco Canyon, Montezuma Castle, Bandelier National Monument, and the Coronado State Historic Site. At the Maxwell Museum Leon organized the recent consultation with Hopi ritual practitioners to re-catalogue the entire Dorothy Maxwell collection of Katsina tihu. Leon currently works on various preservation projects in Arizona.

Ramson Lomatewama, a Hopi poet, jeweler, traditional-style Katsina doll carver, stained glass artist and glassblower, was named the 2005 Rollin and Mary Ella King Fellow at the School for Advanced Research. Ramson is a high-ranking member of the Powamuya Society and serves as a Katsina father. Born in Victorville, California and raised in Arizona, he attended school in Flagstaff but participated in traditional Hopi life at his home village of Hotevilla on Third Mesa on weekends. He has carved “old style” Katsina dolls for many years and is fervent about using traditional materials and techniques: his pigments are all natural and he spins his own cotton twine to attach feathers to the dolls. Ramson hopes to create a curriculum by which the Hopi youth “could be instilled with traditional values and at the same time be allowed yet another venue of expression, creative or otherwise.” He feels that it is important to live and work according to cultural traditions, but also understands how to benefit from modern society.


The Albuquerque Archaeological Society is an avocational group that advocates preserving archaeological and other cultural resources by informing members and the public about archaeological and ethnological subjects through our meetings, presentations, newsletter, other electronic media, field trips, volunteer efforts, field surveys, and studies. Membership is only $25 for an individual or family, and it’s free to students with a Student ID or current class schedule. Membership puts you on our mailing list for our monthly newsletter, and gives you access to our field trips, volunteering endeavors, and our seminars. However, our meetings are always free and open to the public, with a guest lecturer and refreshments, great conversation, and the chance to socialize with those who share an interest in archaeology, both professionals and avocational members. Come see what we’re all about! We’d love your company!


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