Ralph Tawangyawma

Hopi (1894-1973)
A member of the Corn Clan, Ralph Tawangyawma was also a Two-Horn Priest who was deeply involved in Hopi spiritual life. He witnessed the split at Oraibi in 1906 and was among the traditionals who established Hotevilla Village. Ralph married Caroline Tawangyawma, a young Greasewood Clan woman from Hotevilla. He taught her how to make jewelry. They lived in a stone and adobe house on the west side of the village and grew corn, beans, squash, and melons below the mesa.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ralph and Caroline made jewelry at a shop in Phoenix, AZ before returning to the village of Hotevilla in 1964. They became deeply involved in the spiritual and political life of the village and beyond. Their struggle involved delivery of Hop prophecies to the United Nations. To deliver their powerful visions, they loaded up their arms with bracelets, donned many necklaces and rings, and hitch-hiked from Arizona to New York. They traded their jewelry along the way to help them along their journey. Although they were not welcomed to address the General Assembly upon arrival, their story made the New York Times, making their mission successful on some levels, as Hopi prophecies have become better known.

Ralph Tawangyawma is remembered as one of the finest traditional Hopi silversmiths. His silver jewelry implements traditional hand-wrought casting techniques, set stones, and stamp-work and is highly valued by serious collectors.