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Hopi Indians of the Southwest

Identifier: Film Collection no. 192

Scope and Contents

The first part of this film is a study of weaving. Every action, from the carding of wool, through spinning it on a spindle, mounting yarn into warps, and weaving a sash using an upright loom are seen, all being performed by a Hopi man. This is followed by a ceremony leading up to a foot race by the priests as part of a maize celebration. Priests are seen blessing a kiva, a ceremonial underground chamber, with bullroarers and cloth "lightning." An antelope priest digs a sipapu (a symbolic entrance to the underground, where supernatural creatures dwell) and covers it with a wooden plank. Behind the sipapu is the kisi, a conical bower of cottonwood boughs with white cloth over the entrance, where the snakes are kept for the snake dance. The final sequence of this film depicts the Snake Dance performed at Shipaulovi in 1912. This footage was taken by Howard McCormick, an artist contracted by the museum to make Southwest Indian group dioramas. The two Hopi priest fraternities, Snake and Antelope, stand on lines made of corn meal. The Snake priests remove a snake (usually a rattlesnake) and as one puts the snake's head in his mouth the other, with his hand on the shoulder of the first priest, soothes the snake by stroking it with a feather wand or "snake whip." The two dance in this fashion for a few minutes and then put down the snake, which is removed by an Antelope priest and returned to the kisi. Several pairs of priests perform this ritual simultaneously. After all of the snakes have been worshiped, they are divided up into gradii (the four corners of the world plus zenith and nadir) and sprinkled with corn meal. They are then released to the north, east, south, and west to tell the gods how kindly they were treated by the Hopi people, who thus should be rewarded with rain. Pliny Earle Goddard, an anthropologist at the museum, made this film in 1925 while on an expedition in the Southwest.


  • 1925

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Not available through interlibrary loan. Contact AMNH Library Special Collections for terms of access.


1 Film Reel (16 minutes) : silent, black and white ; 35 mm.

1 Videocassette (U-Matic (16 minutes)) : silent, black and white ; 3/4 in.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

3/4 in., U-Matic, viewing copy


Original format: 35 mm. negative; incomplete.



Pliny Earle Goddard and Howard McCormick, photographers.

Hopi Indians of the Southwest, 1925
Iris Lee
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA
(212) 769-5420