This report presents the ways in which Hopi katsina tithu—
popularly known as kachina dolls—are outstanding examples of
objects that museums can recontextualize with Native terminology. The etymology, or a word or phrase’s use history, of each katsina tihu’s name documents the deep connection of these objects with Hopi belief, ritual, and history. Without including the complex practices of Hopi naming, documentation of these objects in museum catalogues is often incomplete and inaccurate. Using contemporary Hopi perspectives, historic ethnographies, and the Hopi Dictionary to create a database of Hopi katsina tithu names, this project demonstrates how museums might incorporate intangible heritage into their collections through language and etymological context.
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