North-South-East-West: American Indians and the Natural World

Weddings: The Circle of Giving

Grinding Corn

Plaited Basket Hopi women are responsible for the household. They prepare corn by shelling kernels and grinding them into a fine meal. Each household owns three grinding stones, called metates, which are kept in a large wooden frame. These stones of varying degrees of coarseness are vital to the production of cornmeal.

Another important Hopi cooking utensil is a cooking stone, called a piki stone, that women use to make piki, a wafer-thin bread made of fine blue cornmeal that is one of the Hopi's most prized foods.

To make piki, Hopi women build a fire under the piki stone and spread cottonseed on its surface. They then spread a thin batter made of cornmeal on the hot stone. When the bread is cooked, the woman takes it off and rolls or folds it. Piki is a food that is served daily as well as at ceremonial occasions.

Image: Plaited Basket
Hopi, ca. 1900
The yucca sifter basket, made by women on all three Hopi mesas, is the basic utility basket. It is used for a variety of tasks--as a colander, a sifter, a winnowing tray, and a catch basin for shelling corn.
Yucca (Yucca angustissima), sumac (Rhus trilobata); D 50.0 cm; 2128-5

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