Ronald Honyouti

This fantastic piece is the creation of Ronald Honyouti. Ronald has done an amazing job, as always, with his oil paints – bringing the subtle and unique features of the cottonwood to life.

Ronald’s choice of hues and tones contribute to the life-like realism of the piece. As a master-carver, Ronald never misses a single detail. He pays such meticulous attention that even the creases in the knuckles are accounted for, along with fingernails, frays in the sash, and folds in the leather moccasins.

Ronald Honyouti is a world renowned artist who has lived most of his life on the Hopi reservation. He was born on May 20, 1955 at nearby Keams Canyon hospital. Ron began carving at the age of 12, shortly after becoming initiated to the Kachina society.

Ronald attended the local elementary schools until graduating from the eighth grade. Like all other young adults his age, he had no choice but to leave the reservation to attend high school. After graduating from high school, Ron attended vocational training to be a motorcycle mechanic. After completing his training Ronald returned home to the village of Bacavi where he continued his carvings and began experimenting with different types of paints to bring out the essence of each piece of wood.

His father, Clyde, and older brother Brian, gave him the aspiration to begin carving. The one piece concept began when Clyde, who was a sheepherder, would take a small piece of cottonwood and a simple knife with him in the morning as he left for the day. During the day while the sheep ate and rested, Clyde would begin his kachina carvings and since he did not have access to any other materials he began to carve the feathers, rattle’s, drums, etc. as a part of the whole piece. This began the practice of the one piece kachina carvings made by Ronald and his brothers.

Brian, Ronald’s oldest brother, had already been carving one piece kachinas dolls and using oil paints as opposed to acrylic paints. So naturally this concept was shared with Ron who then began using oil paints. Oil paints brought out the texture, grain and beauty of each piece of wood they were working with. Also the paints made the carvings look natural and realistic versus acrylic paints that seemed very bright, bold and unnatural.


Ronald has won numerous awards for his carvings. Several “Best of division”, “Best of Class”, and “First Place” awards, from shows such as the infamous “Santa Fe Indian Market” held once a year in Santa Fe New Mexico in August and the Indian Ceremonials held in Gallup, New Mexico, and the annual Hopi Show at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.

Ron has also been the recipient of the Fellowship Award given by the South Western American Indian Association in 1985. This award seemed to give the extra boost all artists need on the road to improvement and self fulfillment.

The Hilili “is apparently a kachina that has made its way from Acoma or Laguna by a process of osmosis. In these pueblos he is known as Heleleka. By the time he reached the Hopis prior to the turn of the century, his name had changed to Hilili, ‘from the call that he makes.’

“His first appearance was among the Hopis of First Mesa and the other two mesas made known their disapproval by calling this a witch or Powak Kachina. However, his popularity as a guard kachina and admiration for his rapid dance has increased.

“Now he is found on all the mesas in a great variety of forms. He appears very frequently in the Powamu and in the Night Dances.”

– Barton Wright, Kachinas: a Hopi Artist’s Documentary (43)