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A Hopi kachina doll of Heheya’s Uncle (Heheya Aumutaqa)

by Oswald (White Bear) Fredericks, circa 1950’s-1960’s

This wonderful doll was made by one of the most fascinating figures in modern Hopi and Southwestern history, Oswald Fredericks (1906-1998?). Known mainly by his Hopi name, “Kucha Honawa” or “White Bear”, Oswald was born in 1906 into the highest level of Hopi leadership society. His paternal Uncle, Wilson Fredericks, known primarily by his Hopi name, “Tawaquaptewa” or “Sun in the Sky” was a major figure in modern Hopi history, the renowned, longtime Village Chief of the leading Hopi village of Old Oraibi on Third mesa and the hereditary Chief of the foremost Hopi clan, the Bear Clan. Wilson Tawaquaptewa was also a noted kachina carver as was his brother Charles Fredericks, Oswald’s father.

Oswald came to prominence in the 1950’s and 1960’s for two main reasons, first was his long association and close friendship with the U.S. Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater. Goldwater became a frequent visitor to Oswald’s home in Oraibi over the years and the two often played golf together in phoenix. Senator Goldwater was an extremely enthusiastic collector and promoter of Hopi kachina dolls and he commissioned Oswald to carve a great many dolls for him, most of which today are part of the Goldwater kachina collection at Phoenix’s Heard Museum. Goldwater was very proud of the dolls which Oswald made for him and his continued patronage gave Oswald a high degree of visibility and increasing fame as a carver and painter. Too, Goldwater commissioned Oswald to create a commercial line of Kachina imagery-based specialty souvenir items such as ceramic trays, coasters, glass plaques and ashtrays which were then sold in the Goldwater family’s department store in Phoenix.

The second major reason Oswald came to prominence was through his very close association with the Taos, New Mexico-based Author and authority on Pueblo culture, Frank Waters. Oswald collaborated closely with Waters and worked as his official researcher and informant for the famous “Book of the Hopi” which was first published in 1963. The Book of The Hopi was and is a cult classic of both southwestern and general cultural literature, the first major book which sought to portray and illuminate the extraordinary world, origins and history of Hopi religion, cosmology and prophecy from the Hopi point of view. The publication of this book and the closely-held-for-centuries secrets and knowledge detailed within it caused a firestorm of attention and controversy at Hopi and elsewhere and eventually for this and a number of other reasons, Oswald felt compelled to leave his home at Hopi and move to Phoenix where he died in 1997 or 1998 at the age of 91 or 92.

This wonderful doll is a depiction of the Hopi clown figure “Heheya’s Uncle”. Clowns have a very sacred and important role in Hopi cosmology and social organization and various iterations and colors of the Heheya Kachina appear in The Bean Dance as well as in other mixed Kachina dances. The doll measures 9” in height and is extraordinarily well-painted and very finely detailed. It is in generally excellent original condition with a large, but stable crack in the figure’s right arm. It is properly signed on the bottom of the right foot with Oswald’s distinctive painted signature: the looping path of the falling snowflake to signify “White” and the track of the bear to signify “Bear” followed by the word “Hopi”. The doll is also inscribed next to the artist’s signature on the right foot in blue ballpoint pen with the words “New Oraibi” signifying the nearby Third Mesa Hopi Village of Kykotsmovi where Oswald lived for a time. On the bottom of the doll’s left foot is another ball-point pen inscription in the artist’s hand with the words “heheya Old Agri Katsina”. We do not know what “agri” means. It could be a possible reference to “angry” which might describe the twisted-mouth expression on the figure’s face.

White Bear Fredericks’ Kachina dolls are extremely desirable. They are unique, beautifully and vividly-realized and very seldom available for sale. This doll is

a rare and wonderful piece of Southwestern history and culture created

by someone who was at once both an important artist and an eloquent, dedicated and energetic spokesman for his ancient people, a highly-significant historic and cultural figure.


Oswald, White Bear, Fredericks, Hopi, Kachina Doll
Oswald, White Bear, Fredericks, Hopi, Kachina Doll
Oswald, White Bear, Fredericks, Hopi, Kachina Doll
Oswald, White Bear, Fredericks, Hopi, Kachina Doll
Oswald, White Bear, Fredericks, Hopi, Kachina Doll
Oswald, White Bear, Fredericks, Hopi, Kachina Doll