Kokopelli the flute player is one of the most popular icons that American culture has adopted from the Native peoples of North America. The Kokopelli name and image are everywhere, adorning everything from jewelry, welcome mats, T-shirts, and money clips to motels, freeway underpasses, nature trails, nightclubs, and string quartets. Kokopelli evokes mystery and wonder, ancient ceremonies and spirituality, Mother Earth and the purity of nature. But what exactly is Kokopelli? Just how Native American is this ubiquitous flute player? In this fascinating book, the distinguished scholar of Hopi culture and history Ekkehart Malotki describes the development of the Kokopelli phenomenon in American mass culture from its beginning to Kokopelli's present status as pan-Southwestern icon. He explores the figure's connections with the Hopi kachina god Kookopoeloe and Maahu, the cicada, and discusses how this rock-art image has been appropriated and misunderstood. Kokopelli sheds light on a little-understood aspect of Hopi culture and testifies to the continuing power of Native cultures to spark the popular imagination and interest of outsiders.
Ekkehart Malotki is a professor of languages at Northern Arizona University. His many books include The Bedbugs' Night Dance and Other Hopi Tales of Sexual Encounter and Hopi Tales of Destruction, both available from the University of Nebraska Press.