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Fred Nakayoma Kabotie

February 15, 2022 - February 28, 1986


Fred Kabotie was a Native American artist who worked in painting, silversmithing, and pottery. He also was an educator, a writer and a curator.

Born into the tight-knit Hopi community at Songo’ opavi, Second Mesa, Arizona, he drew katsinam on rocks around his home at an early age, these would become one of his themes. His grandfather nicknamed him Qaavotay which means “tomorrow” and it was misspelled by a teacher as “Kabotie,” it became the name that he became known by.

Kabotie was forced to go to Santa Fe Indian School by the United States government, this was a place designed to strip students of their Native American heritage and language. The school came under the leadership of school superintendent John DeHuff. His wife, Elizabeth Willis DeHuff then taught painting. They felt that students should embrace their heritage. When DeHuff was forced to leave because of these beliefs, he convinced Kabotie to transfer to Santa Fe Public High School.

Kabotie would go on to be one of the artists featured in the 1932 Venice Biennale American Pavilion, and in 1945 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He taught high school for 22 years and was instrumental in the founding of the Hopi Cultural Center on the Second Mesa. He advocated for other Native American artists, and his son, Michael Kabotie, also became a well-known artist.

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