Who was Kokopelli ?

Kookopolo, Fertility Katsina 

The following was offered by Micah B. Loma'omvaya, an Anthropology Consultant from the Hopi Bear Tribe.  The full text can be found by clicking here


Kookopolo [last two o's are omlawt o's] aka Kokopelli


The name by which this Hopi Katsina or deity is properly known by is Kookopolo. Kookopolo is a fertility katsina who is believed to be a "Johnny Appleseed" type of figure in Hopi culture. He travels far and wide bringing his bag of seed which is indicated in the "humpback" which is symbolic of him. He DOES NOT play a flute, this is a tremendous error by popular American culture most likely created by a misinformed non-Hopi who of course commercialised this to make $$$.


The actual Kookopolo uses a cane which indicates his long journeys, a walking stick. He also uses a rattle in his performances which have not been recently performed. Kookopolo also has a sister named Kokopolmana or Kokopol -maiden.


The name of the Kookopolo may be translated as the 'Robber fly - hunchback'.


Both the Kookopolo and Kokopolmana are involved with human reproduction and are usually associated in petroglyphs with such respective symbolism. They both appear in the villages when the katsina visit the Hopi from February thru June.


The Kookopolo may come alone as a traveller or as a group where they perform a dance with songs. The female may accompany him although she appears alone as well chasing the young men of the village looking for a suitor. This is very comical and scary if you are the one being chased (she's very aggressive!)

Kookopolo is also a clan ancestor of the Magpie and Tsakwayna clan phratry (group of related clans) who still live in Tewa and Walpi village here in First Mesa.


The symbol typically known as the "Humpback Flute Player" is NOT the Kookopolo. This is rather something different and unique in itself. The symbol of the flute player is the clan symbol of the Leengyam or Flute Clan of Walpi village. One interpretation of this is as the Mahu or Cicada insect who is important in their clan traditions. The Cicada is known to make a peculiar noise when the temperature reaches a certain outside temperature, usually around 90 degrees, and can be heard around the Southwest in the summer. This is related to his ability to grow crops when the temperature warms in the summer and give life to the Hopi farm fields.


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