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The "western Pueblo" cultures located in the southwestern United States include the Hopi, Zuni, Tewa Village, Acoma Pueblo, and Laguna Pueblo peoples. In their religious beliefs, a kachina ("katsina" in Hopi) is a spirit being or personification of something in the real world -- anything from a revered ancestor to an element, a location, a quality, a natural phenomenon, or a concept. These katsinim are believed to visit the villages during the first half of the year and are understood as having humanlike relationships: they may have uncles, sisters, and grandmothers, and they may marry and have children; these spirits are then impersonated by men who dress up in costumes and masks to perform ceremonial dances throughout the year. Although not worshipped, each is viewed as a powerful being who, if given veneration and respect, can use his or her particular power for human good, bringing rainfall, healing, fertility, or protection, for example. Everything has an essence or a life force, and humans must interact with these or fail to survive. The kachina concept has three different aspects: the supernatural being itself, the masked kachina dancers of the community who represent the spirits at religious ceremonies, and small kachina dolls carved in the likeness of the spirits which are given as gifts to children. There are more than 400 different katsinim. According to the Hopi they were beneficent spirit-beings who came with the humans from the underworld (where the newly born come from there and the dead return), wandered with the Hopis until they arrived at Casa Grande, halfway between the Arizona states of Phoenix and Tucson, where they settled for awhile. Unfortunately, all of the katsinim were killed when the Hopi were attacked by enemies and their souls returned to the underworld; but, since their sacred paraphernalia were left behind, the people impersonated them by wearing their masks and costumes in order to bring rain, good crops, and happiness. (In another version, the katsinim danced for the Hopi, bringing them rain and many blessings, but the Hopi took them for granted, causing them to return to the underworld; before leaving, however, they taught some of their ceremonies to a few of the faithful and showed them how to make the masks and costumes.) They are said to live on the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. (The Zuni believe that they live in the Lake of the Dead, a mythical lake which is reached through Listening Spring Lake at the junction of the Zuni River and the Little Colorado River.) Every spring Polik-mana (Butterfly Maiden) dances from flower to flower, pollinating the fields and flowers and bringing life-giving rain to the desert. She is represented by a woman dancer at the yearly Butterfly Dance in late summer, a traditional initiation rite for Hopi girls. Her name has been given to the Polik-mana Mons on Venus.
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