Obituary: Michael Kabotie

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Michael Kabotie, 67, artist, poet, lecturer and longtime instructor in the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, died from the H1N1 flu and associated complications on Thursday, Oct. 23, 2009, in Flagstaff, Ariz.

As a key member of the school’s renowned Native American Arts faculty for 26 years, Kabotie taught Hopi silversmithing from 1983 to 2009, and served as consultant to the Native American Arts Festival since its inception in 2001.

William Lowman, president of Idyllwild Arts (IA), commented, “Michael Kabotie was an extraordinary artist of the Hopi tradition, but also an extraordinary artist in any culture. We marveled at his jewelry design and craft. We were inspired by his paintings and prints. And we were moved by his poetry. Most of all, his alter ego as a trickster amused and confounded us all. He was a great artist.”

Heather Companiott, director of the Native American Arts Program at IA, added, “Michael was an extraordinary human being, full of humor, humility, talent, curiosity and compassion. To know or work with Michael was to be forced to think more broadly, to see and find connections between people, concepts and ideas, and to come to know the world — and yourself — a little differently and a little better than you had before. This is a loss not only for his friends, colleagues and students at Idyllwild Arts, but for the many people whose lives he touched across the country and around the world. He will be sorely missed.”

Kabotie was born Sept. 3, 1942, on the Hopi Indian Reservation in Arizona. He grew up in the village of Shungopavi and attended school on the reservation and at the Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kan., where he graduated in 1961. While in his junior year in Kansas, he was invited to spend the summer at the Southwest Indian Art Project at the University of Arizona. Participants included Fritz Scholder, Helen Hardin, Charles Loloma and Joe Hererra.

After high school, Michael attended the University of Arizona, studying engineering. He had the privilege of holding a one-man show at the Heard Museum and his work was featured on the cover of Arizona Highways magazine.

In 1967, Michael underwent his Hopi manhood initiation into the Wuwutsim Society and was given his Hopi name, Lomawywesa (Walking in Harmony).

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