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Pitch book (c. 1908)
Diedcirca 1913
Flourishedearly 1900s

Shungopavi (?-c.1913), Lyceum performer, billed himself as a Moqui Medicine Man, despite the fact that he was an Anglo appearing as a Native American. [1]


Shungopavi was an attraction at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held in Saint Louis, Missouri in 1904. Appearing in full Indian regalia, his entertainment consisted of a lecture with an exposition of native Indian magic. After concluding his engagement at the Fair he went into lyceum, Chautauqua and vaudeville work.

In May, 1910 Mahatma, it was reported that he had played the Alpha Theatre in Erie, Pennsylvania. Scattered sources reporte that he was well educated, a fluent talker and novel in his approach.

His brochure stated he was a noted Indian magician, brilliant scholar, humorist with wit. A full-blooded Moqui Indian and a descendant of the Cliff Dwellers, but a graduate of the Crandall School. He spoke English perfectly, as well as several other languages.

His "Company of Illusionists" included Youna, an American-Japanese juggler, who appeared in Indian and Japanese dress as an assistant.

One of his illusions, The Mystic Arrow, was a version of Shooting through a Woman in which an arrow with ribbons attached is shot right the the body of an assistant.[2] For a time he also opened with a colorful story of the Indian snake dance and made a production from a ceremonial cauldron.

In 1913, Walter G. Peterkin (an editor of Mahatma who performed as Hal Merton wrote the Bureau of American Ethnology with several queries about Shungopavi and his background. Their response was that the name "Shungopavi" was that of one of the Hopi (Moqui) villages and is not the name of an individual. They also stated that no Hopi Indian would ever refer to himself as a "Moqui", which is an opprobrious nickname detested by them. The headdress he used belonged to the Indians of the great plains and was totally unknown to the Hopi tribe.[3]


  2. Circuit Chautauqua: From Rural Education to Popular Entertainment in Early Twentieth Century America by John E. Tapia\ (1997)
  3. M-U-M, Vol. 55, No. 1, June 1956, "The only American Indian Magician", by Milbourne Christopher, page 13