In 2011, near the end of the Mayan Calendar, I ran into Lawrence Namoki while pumping gas into my car in Tuba City where the road intersects to take visitors south to the Hopi Mesa. Lawrence was from Walpi, the oldest village on First Mesa and the oldest continually inhabited village in the United States.
I can’t remember how we recognized each other, but we started talking and he was telling me that he was doing talks on the Hopi Prophesies and their connection to the Mayan beliefs. He told me that one time a van showed up in front of his house filled with Mayan elders. They came into his home (“I don’t know how they chose me”) and they talked about the connections between the two cultures. Lawrence’s father had been a high priest for the Hopi and the young man felt there was some connection with the Mayans. He took a two-year spiritual break and spent time with Mayan elders. and found a distinct connection between the two. He believed that the Hopis came to Earth from a different galaxy, and it was the Hopi duty to teach mankind about their divine history.
I suggested that he come to Durango and do a talk on the subject, and because he is one of the most recognized Hopi potters, we could do a show at the same time. Lawrence started his art career as a Kachina (Katsina) carver, but while at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 1983, he was intrigued with the contemporary pottery he saw and decided to give it a try.
His pottery was not typical Hopi work. He carved designs based on the Hopi legends and finished the surface to resemble stained wood. His work was very popular, and he won many awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market and Heard Museum Market. His pottery and Katsinas are in many museums, including the Smithsonian, the Heard Museum, and the Denver Art Museum.We had a full house the night he gave his talk. When he hit an hour and a half, I was starting to worry how much people could take. My mother always says that the mind can absorb what the seat can endure, but it was not an issue. People were captivated by his stories!
Lawrence passed in 2020. His work and wisdom will be missed.
We have a few pieces of his pottery that we would like to share with you as well as an interview that he did with Lilou Mace, an English journalist, in which he talks about the Hopi Prophesies.