Note: The designs on this page are intended to be a general representation of Pueblo designs, and are not intended to represent original Hopi art.
The Hopi are a tribe of about ten thousand people located in a fairly isolated geographic area in northeast Arizona. Descendants of the ancient Hisatsinom, their culture can be traced back over two millennium, making it one of the oldest known in North America. They settled in the land of the Four Corners area long before the Navajo, the Apache, the Spanish or the Europeans who now call themselves Americans. | --NEXT-- || Viewzone
About a thousand years ago, the Hopi occupied a vast territory stretching from the Grand Canyon to Toko'navi (what is now called Navajo Mountain), toward the Lukachukai Mountains near the Arizona and New Mexico border, and south to the Mongollon Rim. Hopi clan markings can be seen throughout this entire area in the form of petroglyphs, etched figures and symbols in the rock cliffs and stones.
Here they developed a system of farming, called dry farming, and were able to grow a variety of vegetables which included several types of corn. They had an understanding of natural cycles and they incorporated these into their daily religious rituals. Unlike other "warrior" tribes, the Hopi were a peaceful people and had good relations with all of their neighbors, including several Native people in Mexico, with whom they shared trade and ideas.
Within fifty years of being "discovered" by the Spanish, the Hopi were to face the first of many cultural challenges in the form of Christianity. Limited contact with the Spanish missionaries was at first beneficial since it brought the horse, sheep, burros and cattle. Several new vegetables and fruits were also introduced to their agriculture. Along with these "gifts" was the persistent attempt to convert the Hopi from their spiritual beliefs, and subsequent contact with the Spanish was marked by severely harsh and brutal treatment- all in the name of the Christian god.
Along with other "gifts" from the Spanish, the Hopi people suffered from a previously unknown disease, smallpox, which plummeted their population from about 10,000 to a mere 3,000. Also, the Navajo, who entered the region about the 13th century, made frequent raids and attempts to secure Hopi land during the early part of the 19th century.
In 1882, president Chester A. Arthur designated a small rectangular area in northeast Arizona as the Hopi reservation. This area included the present day three mesas that comprise the Hopi homeland. The wording of this agreement, however, allowed any other Indians which the Secretary of the Interior permitted to live in this reservation area also. This opened the way for successive waves of Navajo infringement on Hopi land.
Several subsequent treaties and actions of the United States government have further encouraged intrusion on Hopi land and ways of life. This intrusion has created a current threat to the Hopi, as we will discuss further during our stay.