Hopi Language Origin

How is the Hakomi Institute responding to concerns that the name Hakomi was culturally appropriated?

Some members of our worldwide community believe that the Hakomi name was received in a sacred transmission that was given to us rather than appropriated from others. Others in our community feel that the Hakomi name has been culturally appropriated from the Hopi people and want us to rename our work.

At the Hakomi Institute, we hear these concerns and are committed to exploring them with cultural humility. Given the strong emotions and unhealed trauma that discussions around diversity, equity and inclusion can stir, we also feel it’s important to address these concerns in ways that honor Hakomi’s core principles and practices of loving presence, mindfulness and nonviolence.

To begin this exploration, the Hakomi Institute’s board of directors has agreed to take the following initial actions:

1) Appoint a board advisory committee to inform any actions we take

2) Require education in cultural appropriation for our board of directors and other faculty and staff who will be involved in making decisions around this issue, and

3) Dialogue with the Hopi Tribal Council and/or Hopi social justice workers to explore their perspective on our use of the word hakomi, including any potential impact it might have on the Hopi people.

We’re sure that more steps will arise organically from these initial actions and will keep the community informed of our progress.

June 2022 update:
Since the summer of 2021, we have met as a committee at least monthly. In our collective processes and discussions, we have gotten clearer and more nuanced in our thinking and have allowed the questions we are facing to broaden beyond more than keeping or changing our name. We have explored cultural appropriation, organizational history, colonialism, linguistics, intention vs impact, reciprocity, amends, etc.

  • We find ourselves in consensus on the importance of sharing our story with Hopi people, listening to their responses, offering a gift of gratitude for the many years we have used the name, naming that we recognize we have not had a reciprocal relationship with any Hopi people and that we want to make amends around this, and asking if this is what they too want.

Here are some specific steps we have taken this year:

  • In August 2021, we presented at the annual Hakomi Institute (HI) Faculty Meeting. Our presentation included a video from one of our meetings with two Indigenous consultants in which they shared insights and recommendations for the process we are involved in. We heard from many faculty members that this video was especially touching and impactful. We invited reflective feedback on our work to date, welcoming all voices, after which we collected and collated the responses. There were varied responses along a spectrum of perspectives, though many indicated appreciation for
    and trust in our committee’s intentional process.
  • Since the fall of 2021 we have emphasized engaging with and following our consultants’ recommendations that we spend a significant amount of time digging deep into our individual and collective unconscious around the nuances of the name question, and that we actively pay attention to and share our dreams as part of this process. This has been eye-opening and intimacy-building. It has supported increased consensus around our ongoing process.
  • In December 2021 we provided the Hakomi Education Network (HEN) with a similar presentation we had given to the HI faculty. 25 HEN members attended the presentation. As with the HI faculty, we asked for feedback and collected and collated responses. Attendees seemed excited about supporting healing and communication between the two organizations. Their responses to the questions about our use of the word Hakomi were also on a spectrum and quite similar to the feedback we received from the HI faculty.
  • In April 2022 we interviewed HI’s Executive Director, Denise Gaul, to give her the opportunity to experience being heard around this question since she joined HI after we had done most of our community interviewing.
  • In April 2022 we met with the HI Board of Directors to provide a brief update on our committee work and reconfirmed their full support of how we were approaching the name question.

As of May 2022, we trust the need for a direct connection with representatives of the Hopi People. As we seek conversations in the fall or early winter, we recognize the need to align with their timetable and the importance of being respectful, caring, mindful, and responsive in the process.

May 2021 update:
Since our last update in October 2020, the Hakomi Institute and the Hakomi Education Network have joined together in working towards relational repair with the Hopi People, and added three new members–two members from the Hakomi Education Network and the Hakomi Institute Executive Director. Both organizations share a collective origin story of our name and the desire to evolve in relationship to the Hopi People. As a group we have been strengthening our connection to each other and working within a consensus model of decision making. The ongoing work of this committee is to actively seek out deeper understandings of the harms of colonialism around the use of words that have cultural meaning and context.

With approval from the Hakomi Institute Board of Directors and the Hakomi Education Network Leadership Team, the Hakomi Name Committee/Hopi Reconciliation Team entered into conversation with two paid indigenous consultants, both of whom are community activists and professional mediators. We began meeting with these consultants in January. The role of these consultants is to prepare the six members of our committee to be in a receptive conversation with the Hopi people. Currently, the committee is engaged in work recommended by the Indigenous consultants. This work includes individual and collective processes of listening for wounds seeking healing and repair, both within and between our teaching organizations and with specific regard to the use of the name Hakomi and its impact on the Hopi peoples.

October 2020 update:
Some members of our worldwide community believe that the Hakomi name, which came to one of Ron Kurtz’ early students in a dream, was a sacred transmission which should be honored. The person who had this dream was a student of Grandfather David Monongye, the last of four designated Hopi prophets who gave his blessing for the newly forming institute to use the name. Others in our community feel that the Hakomi name has been appropriated from the Hopi people, is a vestige of colonialism and should be retired.
The foundation of our work is a set of guiding principles (Unity, Non-Violence, Organicity,
Mindfulness, Mind/Body Holism). We seek to live out the spirit of these principles in our therapeutic work as well as in our organizational conduct through holding a deep commitment to hearing and respecting all voices, particularly those voices within a system that have not been fully heard.
Our own principles therefore demand we take seriously and vigorously seek to rectify any issues of cultural appropriation while also understanding and respecting the sense of sacredness with which many of our colleagues worldwide hold this name and its origins.
In service to this commitment, the faculty of the International Hakomi Institute established an advisory committee to study the issue of cultural appropriation with regard to our use of the word, “Hakomi.” The role of this committee has been to seek to better understand the concerns of oppressed and marginalized communities regarding the use of their languages and cultural wisdom; to support our Board of Directors in understanding these issues; and to support the Board in taking concrete steps to insure that we, as an organization, are living up to our values by respecting the rights of the Hopi people to determine the use of their own language.
The committee has been conducting interviews and seeking out the perspectives of people within and outside the organization, with particular emphasis on the views of indigenous consultants, activists and educators. These interviews and professional consultations have helped us craft a plan and an ambitious timeline for taking responsive action and initiating relational repair as needed with the Hopi People. This work is actively in progress now and we commit to updating this statement as the steps are taken and the process unfolds.