K. T. Johnson was one of the early converts of the General Conference Mennonite (GCM) mission among the Hopi in Arizona. He later served as a paid worker ("native helper") with the mission. His conversion to Christianity meant, for him, rejection of all aspects of traditional Hopi religion.
Johnson had been head of the Bow Clan, which controlled the One-Horn and Two-Horn societies, which had important and exclusive roles to play in the seasonal cycle of Hopi religion. When Johnson became a Christian, he rejected attendance at the Hopi ceremonial dances as well as rejecting tobacco, white dances, and movies. In August 1922, Johnson consulted with other Hopi Christians in Oraibi and decided to burn the Bow Clan altar and other paraphernalia connected with it. Johnson, as head of the Bow Clan, had possession of the altar, which was used in one of the most secret Hopi ceremonies.
On the next Sunday afternoon, when many white tourists as well as Hopis were gathered to watch the Snake Dance, the Hopi Christians gathered in the center of New Oraibi for prayer and singing. Johnson set up the secret altar in the public square, spoke to the crowd about the evils of idol worship, poured gasoline over the altar, and set fire to it while the Christian group sang the hymn "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" in Hopi. "Thus passed away the most important Hopi religious ceremony," commented Otto Lomavitu, another Hopi Christian.
Suderman, John P. A Hopi Indian Finds Christ: The Experience of Mr. K T Johnson and His Judgment on Idolatry. Oraibi, AZ: the Author, n.d.
Waters, Frank. Book of the Hopi. New York: Ballentine Books 1962: 381-382.
Cite This Article
Barrett, Lois. "Johnson, K. T. (Tuwaletstewa)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1987. Web. 15 Mar 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Johnson,_K._T._(Tuwaletstewa)&oldid=88375.
Barrett, Lois. (1987). Johnson, K. T. (Tuwaletstewa). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 15 March 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Johnson,_K._T._(Tuwaletstewa)&oldid=88375.
Herald Press website.
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