Word has been received that Eldon Kewanyama, a member of the Water Clan from the Hopi Village Shungopovi in northern Arizona, passed away at the age of 81. Mr. Kewanyama was essential in bringing the first Hopi dancers to Chimney Rock in 1995 and he enjoyed friendships with many people in Pagosa.
After his honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy in the 1950s, Mr. Kewanyama returned to his Hopi home and family. He was very generous in sharing his culture. In the 1970s, he was invited to take Hopi singers and dancers to France, where they were very popular. He participated in Hopi cultural programs during the last 40 years at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Ariz., Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Ariz., Mesa Verde National Park, Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colo., Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Chimney Rock Archaeological Area (now known as Chimney Rock National Monument) and Edge of Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, Utah, to name a few. He has been interviewed and quoted in several southwest archaeological publications and interpretive periodicals, but his most entertaining stories were told from his kitchen table.
Mr. Kewanyama was a katsina carver, however, his dolls were generally not commercially available. He gave them to children during Hopi ceremonies or gave or sold them to his friends.
Mr. Kewanyama was preceded in death by four of his siblings and his wife, Ella Ruth. He is survived by seven daughters and one son, his sister Dora Sakeva also from Shungopovi, dozens of nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren. He led a colorful life, always proud of his heritage. One of his favorite sayings was, “Don’t Worry. Be Hopi.”