History and Culture of The Hopi Peoples

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1676 words

Downloads: 32

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The human race has developed immensely over the years. From the most ancient peoples to the modern peoples of today, we have continued to expand our horizons. The Hopi tribe sets a prime example for human development. History is important today because of how improvements to life and societies can be made. By looking at the Hopi Tribe and how they lived their lives, one can admire the Hopi peoples and look to them for prime examples.

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The Hopis are such a diverse group in comparison to other tribes. The Hopi are known as the “peaceful people”, and the more we learn to acknowledge their peace, the more we understand and appreciate their history and the way of life through the eyes of the Hopi. The precise origin of the Hopi is unknown, but they are considered to be a subtribe of the Pueblo Indians, but they spoke a different language. The language of The Hopi is Uto-Aztecan, the Pueblo linguistic area, along with members of the Zuni, Tanoan family, Navajo, and Keresan languages. The Hopi language is so incredible and prestigious that they are second to none. The language of the peaceful peoples is demonstrative of just how complex and intelligent they are.

The Hopi are a Native American tribe that primarily lives in northeastern Arizona, on a 1.5 million acre reservation. The peaceful people lead history with the longest, authorized occupation of a single area of any Native American tribe in the United States. They are thought to have migrated north out of Mexico around 500 B.C. and have occupied the Four Corners region of the United States. Although The Hopi stood their ground with invaders and other harmful elements, there was one element the peaceful people couldn’t escape, natural disasters. A drought in the late 1200’s forced thirty six of forty seven villages to flee from their mesas. After the drought concluded, eleven of the villages that had remained sustainably and grew in size. There were three new villages that had come about after the disastrous drought that had led The Hopi out of their current villages. These new villages were settled in Northeastern Arizona which is located around seventy miles from what is now Flagstaff, Arizona. The Hopi settled in their mesas for defensive purposes. They also occupied the surrounding areas of the mesas. They divided the land between various families, and used adjoining land for religious, agricultural, and medical purposes.

The Hopi was centered around farming, but after the Spanish colonization, they leaned more towards herding sheep. There were several crops that had great significance, but the most important crop of The Hopi peoples was the maiz. Maiz is also commonly known as corn. It’s a cereal grain founded by the indigenous people around 10,000 years ago. Along with corn, the peaceful people grew a wide range of vegetables. The Hopi men played a crucial role in farming, performing in various ceremonies, weaving clothing items and blankets, and building houses. Women also had a key role in the economy aspect. The Hopi women gardened, raised the children of the tribe, made pottery and baskets, and took exceptional care of the elderly in the tribe.

The Hopi would primarily trade with the Pueblo. The Hopi would trade various items such as silver jewelry, baskets, pottery, and kachina dolls. Kachina dolls are carved from roots of the cottonwood trees. There were copious amounts of cottonwood trees surrounding the Hopi lands which made it a key factor in the doll itself. The doll is a form of a messenger between two worlds; spiritual and the human world. The Hopi lived in adobe houses, commonly known as pueblos. This form of housing was perfect for the peaceful peoples because of the warm climate in which they lived in. The Hopi had weapons that they would store within their homes. They would carve rocks and bones to create arrowheads. The Hopi would also use arrows and spears, using something called an “atlatl” to throw their spears. The atlatl was used for providing a greater distance for a kill or attack. These weapons were adequate for defending their territory against the Navajo and the Spanish peoples. The Hopi rebelled against the Spanish of religious oppression. Shortly after, the Hopis had joined the remaining pueblo people in a unified revolt in 1680. Through the duration of the Pueblo Revolt, the indigenous peoples took the lives of Spanish soldiers and Franciscan priests. When the Hopi returned home, they also killed the missionaries. The Hopi moved three of their villages to mesa tops as a defense mechanism in case of possible retaliation. In 1682, The Spanish returned to conquer the Rio Grande area once again. Upon the arrival of the Spaniards, the Pueblos fled west to the Hopi lands, where the Hopi welcomed them with open arms. In 1700, the Hopi traditionalists had killed all of the Christian men in Awatovi, shortly after they demolished the village. The Spanish interference in Hopi life ended with the carnage of Awatovi.

The Hopi peoples took pride in their religious ceremonies. Depending on the time of year, men of the Hopi tribe would dress up as kachina dolls and perform for the people of the villages or in kivas. The two most important ceremonies were “masked and unmasked”. Masked would occur in January or February all the way to July. The unmasked ceremony was determined by the position of the moon and the sun. The purpose of these two ceremonies is to help bring rain. The ceremonies are held by several clans or simply a single clan. The Hopis surroundings, mountains, talking stones, and cornstock are all alive according the peaceful peoples and they play a significant role of the spirits and give them life. All of the surroundings were just small pieces of the bigger picture of the greater power, The One Power. The One Power gives them direction in their seasons and earthly journeys. The lunar and solar observations must remain one with the constellations in the night sky. In the Hopi culture, both girls and boys were to be initiated into the Kachina cult. They typically were initiated between the ages of eight and ten. When the boys were initiated, they were summoned into four societies; Tao, Ahl, Kwan, and Wuwutcimi. The boys would typically join the same society as their ceremonial father. The Powama ceremony was usually held at planting time. The puberty ceremony held for girls would consist of her getting a new name and wearing the hairstyle of a squash blossom which was a sign of her new availability to be wed. In the Hopi culture, old age is a good thing, it means that their life cycle is almost complete. The rituals of death are taken very seriously and they try to bury those who have passed as quickly as possible because any kind of delay can result in the failure of the soul being able to reach the underworld. Within the Hopi community, there were ranking of clans. Moving up by a certain clan only occurred when a lower-ranking clan took the position of a higher-ranking clan.

Men and women were equal in the Hopi society with both genders having significant roles in the success of their daily lives and tasks. In most cases, the men of the village or clan would be the one to make the decisions while the women had more power of the aspects of the economy. Each village was governed by a chief and by the council of elders from the leaders of clans. The kiva was used as a social place in which leaders could discuss issues and disputes. This ancient tribe establishes their history while living in Northern Arizona. For over 2,000 years, the Hopi have lived by peace with nature and continuously occupy their settlements. Although their ways have been done for generations, the farming continues to remain the same throughout time. The farmers still grow a variety of crops on their land.

Despite the peaceful ways of the Hopi people, the United States disregards the Hopi homelands and their interests against corporate greed. They also face problems with illegal settlements on the Hopi lands from one of the largest tribes in the United States, The Navajo tribe. Although the peaceful peoples are intelligent and kind, they still face issues that all Americans face. “Calls for police service increased to 6339 in 2014 compared to 2,270 in 2013. Crime reports increased by +173% in 2014 and major crimes increased +5%. The major crime categories, as identified by the FBI Uniform Crime Report Part 1 Crimes, are murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, auto theft, and arson. In 2014, we had 71 major crimes reported compared to 47 in 2013. Of these 71 major crimes, we cleared 57 of them by arrest or the perpetrator was identified but not arrested. Not arresting the perpetrator could mean that a warrant was issued but not yet served; the victim doesn’t want to proceed with prosecution, the perpetrator was charged with other crimes, or the perpetrator is in jail elsewhere and not available to us yet for prosecution, or the case was unfounded. Traffic and injury crashes decreased -5% in 2014. We had 3 traffic fatalities in 2014. Traffic citations for the year increased by +225% with 894 citations issued in 2014 compared to 273 in 2013. Some of this increase can be attributed to officers writing more written warnings citations than the previous year (273 in 2013). Written warnings in place of traffic citations are a very good traffic enforcement and public relation tool utilized by officers to maintain an effective traffic enforcement program in our community.'

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Throughout the journey learning about the Hopi people, I have learned to value nature, to appreciate friends and family, to honor whomever I pray to at night, to respect those who have come before me, and to always look to put others before myself. The peaceful people are intelligent and admirable, their ways will remain sacred and honored.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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History and Culture of the Hopi Peoples. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 21, 2023, from
“History and Culture of the Hopi Peoples.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
History and Culture of the Hopi Peoples. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 Sept. 2023].
History and Culture of the Hopi Peoples [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2023 Sept 21]. Available from:
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