Native American Tribes: The Hopi


Figure 1.--This photograph was taken by Frederick I. Monsen and published in 1908. It shows two little Hopi children. Source: Library of Congress LC-USZ62-101159.

The Hopi at their peak inhabited virtually all of northern Arizona, including areas of southwestern California and southern Nevada. The Hopis have a reservation in Black Mesa, Arizona near the famed Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. The Hopi speak a Shoshonean language, which is one of the Uto-Aztecan languages branches of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock. An exception is the Hano Pueblo where the people speak a language which belongs to the Tanoan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock. The Hopi or Moki/Moqui are one of the principal Pueblo tribal groups. The Hopi were a pre-literate people. Researchers have been avle to develop some basic history of the Hopu through archeology, anthropology, and linguistic studies. DNA studies may be avle to tell us more. The written record, however, only begins with the European discovery and exploration of the America. Within only decades of Columbus' voyages, Spanish Conquistadores reached the Hopi nd other Pueblo peoples (1540). The Hopi began involved in a fight for their existence with both the Spanish and Navho. Theur response was to move into more remote areas and build better protected pueblos. Spanish missionaries built missions, but they were destroyed in the Hopi Revolt. The remote inhospital lands and the small Spanish population was their best protection. The same was true after Mexican independence. The expanding United States reached the the Hopi after the Civil War. American authorities moved the Hopi on to the Black Nesa Reservation. The Hopi are best known for their agricultural skills. To achieve high levels of agricultural production they used methods like terracing and various types of irrigation. Corn was the primary crop. They also raised cotton, beans, squash, and tobacco. This thriving agricultural economy was a phenomenal technological achievement in the middle of the Arizona desert. Since the coming of the Spanish, sheep ranching has become important. A further social impact as the villages grew was that clans began to form with land ties. Hopi villages were divided into the clans and governed by a chief, who was a political and spiritual leader. Clans became very important in Hopi society. Both political and religious duties revolved around the clans. Each clan became responsible for specific fields in the valleys (arroyos) below the mesas. Hopi society was organize on matrilineal lines. All important field inheritance and social status was thus passed through the mothers. It was the men who worked the fields.

Geography

The Hopi at their peak inhabited virtually all of northern Arizona, including areas of southwestern California and southern Nevada. The Hopis have a reservation in Black Mesa, Arizona near the famed Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.

Language

The Hopi speak a Shoshonean language, which is one of the Uto-Aztecan languages branches of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock. An exception is the Hano Pueblo where the people speak a language which belongs to the Tanoan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock. This presumably reflects the lack of political centralization of early Hopi groups. The Hano came from the Rio Grande area and arrived centuries after the other Hopi. Until the development of DNA studies. lingustic studies were one of the few ways of assessing ethnic relationships among tribes.

The Pueblos

The Hopi or Moki/Moqui are one of the principal Pueblo tribal groups,

History

The Hopi like other Native American peoples in what is now the United States were a pre-literate people. Researchers have been avle to develop some basic history of the Hopu through archeology, anthropology, and linguistic studies. DNA studies may be able to tell us more. The written record, however, only begins with the European discovery and exploration of the America. The Hopi like other Native Americans were significantly impacted by the arrival of Europeans, in their case the Spanish. Within only decades of Columbus' voyages, Spanish Conquistadores reached the Hopi nd other Pueblo peoples (1540). The Hopi began involved in a fight for their existence with both the Spanish and Navaho. Their response was to move into more remote areas and build better protected pueblos. Spanish missionaries built missions, but they were destroyed in the Hopi Revolt. The remote inhospital lands and the small Spanish population were their best protection. The same was true after Mexican independence. The expanding United States reached the the Hopi after the Civil War. American authorities moved the Hopi on to the Black Nesa Reservation.

Agriculture

The Hopi are best known for their agricultural skills. To achieve high levels of agricultural production they used methods like terracing and various types of irrigation. Corn was the primary crop. They also raised cotton, beans, squash, and tobacco. This thriving agricultural economy was a phenomenal technological achievement in the middle of the Arizona desert. Since the coming of the Spanish, sheep ranching has become important.

Social Structure

A further social impact as the villages grew was that clans began to form with land ties. Hopi villages were divided into the clans and governed by a chief, who was a political and spiritual leader. Clans became very important in Hopi society. Both political and religious duties revolved around the clans. Each clan became responsible for specific fields in the valleys (arroyos) below the mesas. Hopi society was organize on matrilineal lines. All important field inheritance and social status was thus passed through the mothers. It was the men who worked the fields.

Religion

The clans were responsible for the religious ceremonies conducted during the year. Societies within the clans actually perform the ceremonies. To me accepted into these socities was a great honor. The Badger clan conduct the kachina (fertility) ceremony. The Antelope and Snake clans perform the famous snake dance at Walpi and other pueblos. The socities were mostly made up of men, but socities with women members which also were responsible for some of the ceremonies. The Hopi practiced a distinctive dance, the snake dress, not practiced by other pueblo tribes.

Peaceful Orientation

Generally the transition to agriculture was accompanied by a development of a more peacefull life style and this was the case of the Hopi. The wealth created from agriculture attracted the attention of the more war-like hunter-gathering tribes like the Navajo and Apache.

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Created: 11:35 PM 8/3/2006
Last updated: 6:07 PM 12/20/2011