Cover image for Hopi stories of witchcraft, shamanism, and magic
Hopi stories of witchcraft, shamanism, and magic
Malotki, Ekkehart.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
lvii, 290 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
920 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E99.H7 M338 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



The traditional Hopi world, as reflected in Hopi oral literature, is infused with magic--a seamless tapestry of everyday life and the supernatural. That magic and wonder are vividly depicted in this marvelous collection of authentic folktales. For the Hopis, the spoken or sung word can have a magical effect on others. Witchcraft--the wielding of magic for selfish purposes by a powaqa, or sorcerer--has long been a powerful, malevolent force. Sorcerers are said to have the ability to change into animals such as a crow, a coyote, a bat, or a skeleton fly, and hold their meetings in a two-tiered kiva to the northeast of Hopi territory. Shamanism, the more benevolent but equally powerful use of magic for healing, was once commonplace but is no longer practiced among the Hopis. Shamans, or povosyaqam , often used animal familiars and quartz crystals to help them to see, diagnose, and cure illnesses. Spun through these tales are supernatural beings, otherworldly landscapes, magical devices and medicines, and shamans and witches. One story tells about a man who follows his wife one night and discovers that she is a witch, while another relates how a jealous woman uses the guise of an owl to make a rival woman's baby sick. Other tales include the account of a boy who is killed by kachinas and then resurrected as a medicine man and the story of a huge rattlesnake, a giant bear, and a mountain lion that forever guard the entrance to Maski, the Land of the Dead.

Author Notes

Ekkehart Malotki is a professor of languages at Northern Arizona University
Ken Gary is a writer and illustrator with a long-standing interest in the Hopis

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In the introduction to this very interesting and useful collection of traditional Hopi stories, Malotki and Gray survey the ethnographic literature and argue that shamanism, magic, and witchcraft--despite the sedentary nature of Hopi culture and its corn economy--were once important elements of Hopi culture and are still evident in their oral tradition. The 31 stories included in the collection illustrate their contention; a brief discussion of some of the stories in the introduction helps the reader without an extensive knowledge of Hopi culture to recognize some of the elements of shamanism, magic, and witchcraft and how they were dealt with in their cultural context. In addition, the substantial introduction contains a brief account of how these stories were collected and the names of the storytellers. In contrast to earlier, bilingual collections by Malotki and Hopi collaborators--e.g., Hopi Animal Tales, narrated by Michael Lomatuway'ma, Lorena Lomatuway'ma, and Sidney Namingha (1998)--this collection contains only the English versions of the stories; but Malotki and Gray manage to maintain some of the elements of oral tradition, for example the formulaic opening and closing and some repetition. With its wide range of stories, this collection is an excellent addition to the literature of Native American oral traditions. All collections. B. Hans University of North Dakota

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Introductionp. xiii
1 The Boy Who Encountered the Jimsonweed and Four O'Clock Girlsp. 1
2 The Man Who Was Buried Alivep. 8
3 How Old Spider Woman Came to the Rescue of the Yaya'tp. 11
4 The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Medicine Manp. 15
5 The Tsa'kwayna Death Spiritsp. 21
6 The Fate of Pongoktsina and His Wifep. 30
7 The Man Who Traveled to Maski, Home of the Dead, to Bring Back His Wifep. 55
8 The Yaya't and Their Featsp. 65
9 An Oraibi Boy's Visit to Maski, Home of the Deadp. 69
10 The Snake Clan Boy and the Sorcerersp. 93
11 The Man Who Was Married to a Witchp. 104
12 How Coyote Came to Visit Maski, Home of the Deadp. 115
13 The So'yoko Ogre and His Wifep. 124
14 How Somaykoli Came to Shungopavip. 136
15 The Boy Who Was Born from a Dead Motherp. 141
16 Kotsoylaptiyo and the Sorcerersp. 147
17 How the Snake Ceremony Came to Oraibip. 161
18 A Flood at Oraibip. 173
19 The Boy Who Became a Deerp. 185
20 The Woman Who Gave Birth to the Seedsp. 202
21 The Creation of the Morning and Evening Starp. 208
22 How the Poqangw Brothers Stole the Lightningp. 212
23 The Poor Boy Who Wanted a Horsep. 219
24 How the Poqangw Brothers Found Their Fatherp. 225
25 The Water Vessel Boyp. 236
26 A Famine at Oraibip. 240
27 How the Zunis Killed the Hehey'a Kachinasp. 247
28 Yaapontsa, the Wind Godp. 252
29 So'yoko and the Shungopavisp. 258
30 The Witch Owlp. 267
31 The Gambling Boy Who Married a Bear Girlp. 270
Glossaryp. 284