Kawaika'a

"Kawaika'a" (Kawayka) is a Keresan word used by today's Hopis to refer to Laguna Pueblo and the Laguna people. In this case, the name refers to a pueblo built on the rim of Antelope Mesa, beginning in the late 1300's and abandoned in the mid 1500's.

Small pieces of data I have found indicate the builders of Kawaika'a were likely part of a group migrating back and forth between Pottery Mound, Acoma and pueblos in the area of what is now Laguna.

In the pottery of Pottery Mound is a sequence indicating an influx of Acoma and Zuni potters between 1395 and 1415 with an influx of Hopi potters between 1405 and 1435. There were a few pieces of Jeddito black-on-yellow ware imported to Pottery Mound but most other Hopi-style pottery found was made at Pottery Mound. Some of the designs developed in those years survived the abandonment of Pottery Mound in the late 1400's by being transmitted to places like Awatovi and Kawaika'a. Shortly after their arrival on Antelope Mesa, those same designs made their way onto some of the pottery of Sikyatki. The primary method of transmission back then seems to have been painted textiles. If so, we modern folks are missing a major part of the social record due to poor preservation of ancient textiles over hundreds of years. All we have now are the paintings of textiles in surviving wall murals.

Many of the designs developed at Pottery Mound were perhaps more fully expressed at Awatovi than at either Kawaika'a or Pottery Mound. There's no way to be sure as Kawaika'a was abandoned in the late 1500's and many Kawaika'a potters moved to Sikyatki. Either way, the designs reproduced by Awatovi potters were produced in massive quantities for local consumption while those produced by Sikyatki potters were more refined and ended up spread across the region from the Pacific coast to the plains of Kansas.

All the above perhaps being relatively true, after the Franciscans first arrived at Awatovi in 1629, the quality of pottery across all Hopi mesas fell off and the resulting product is now known as San Bernardo black-on-red ware.

Kawaika'a was also found to have numerous wall murals in its underground kivas but none showed any of the imagery identified with Sikyatki style. Those murals were more simple and primarily multi-colored geometric designs. Some of those murals feature human figures in detailed ceremonial regalia with chiseled profiles emphasizing noses and chins. This is a style of decoration not seen elsewhere in the Hopi mesas but found among examples of Jornada Mogollon rock art and among later Rio Grande art. The nearest Jornada Mogollon influence was most likely from Casa Malpais, which was abandoned around 1400.

Sites of the Ancients and approximate dates of occupation: