Wilson Tawaquaptewa (1871-1960) Biography

Wilson Tawaquaptewa is one of the earliest Hopi kachina carvers to be identified by name.  He was born to the Bear Clan at Oraibi on Third Mesa at a time when that village was the largest and most influential at Hopi. 

Tawaquaptewa became the village chief or Kikmongwi in 1904, just two years before the village split between the “Hostiles” and the “Friendlies” over policies toward Anglo involvement at Hopi.  As leader of the Friendlies, Tawaquaptewa prevailed, and he remained chief of Oraibi until his death.  Beginning possibly in the 1920s, he made kachinas, rattles, dance wands, and other traditional Hopi items.  He used traditional materials and techniques but never created accurate representations of specific kachinas for sale to non-Hopis. 

Over the years, Tawaquaptewa became a familiar presence to tourists as he sat at the door of his house at Oraibi selling his art for a few dollars.