Hopi Indians


Hopi (hō´pē), group of the Pueblo, formerly called Moki, or Moqui. They speak the Hopi language, which belongs to the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock, at all their pueblos except Hano, where the language belongs to the Tanoan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They occupy several mesa villages in NE Arizona and in 1990 numbered close to 12,000.

In 1540, they were visited by some of Francisco Coronado's men under Pedro de Tovar, but because of their geographical isolation they remained more independent of European influence than other Pueblo groups. The Spanish began to establish missions in 1629 at the Hopi pueblos of Awatobi, Oraibi, and Shongopovi. These missions were destroyed in the revolt of 1680 (see Popé), and when the residents of Awatobi invited the missionaries to return, the other Hopi destroyed their village. After the revolt, pueblos in the foothills were abandoned and new villages were built on the mesas for defense against possible attack by the Spanish. The pueblo of Hano was built by the Tewa, who had fled from the area of the Rio Grande valley that the Spanish reconquered.

During the 18th and 19th cent., the Hopi were subjected to frequent raids by the neighboring Navajo. The region was pacified by the U.S. army in the late 19th cent., and a Hopi reservation was established in 1882, but the ambiguous status of much of the reservation enabled Navajo populations to encroach on traditional Hopi lands. By the 1960s and 70s, Navajo expansion on lands set aside for joint use provoked court action and led to a partition of the disputed land. Amid bitter conflict, over 10,000 Navajo and fewer than 100 Hopi were relocated from the partitioned lands. A court decision in 1992 assigned most of the land still in dispute to the Navajo. Some Navajo were permitted to remain on Hopi land under 75-year leases.

The Hopi are sedentary farmers, mainly dependent on corn, beans, and squash; they also raise wheat, cotton, and tobacco, and herd sheep. Each village is divided into clans and is governed by a chief, who is also the spiritual leader. Political and religious duties revolve around the clans. The Badger clan, for instance, still conducts the kachina (fertility) ceremony, and the Antelope and Snake clans perform the well-known snake dance at Walpi and other pueblos. A Hopi tribal council and constitution were established in 1936, but internal dissension has limited tribal unity.

See J. Kammer, The Second Long Walk (1980); S. Rushforth and S. Upham, A Hopi Social History (1992).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Hopi Indians: Selected full-text books and articles

This Land Was Theirs: A Study of Native North Americans By Wendell H. Oswalt Oxford University Press, 2006 (8th edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Hopi: Farmers of the Desert"
Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion By Morton Klass; Maxine Weisgrau Westview Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 16 "The Interpretation of Politics: A Hopi Conundrum"
Language, Literacy, and Power in Schooling By Teresa L. McCarty Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Negotiating for the Hopi Way of Life through Literacy and Schooling"
Hopi Ruin Legends: Kiqotutuwutsi By Michael Lomatuway'Ma; Lorena Lomatuway'Ma; Sidney Namingha Jr.; Ekkehart Malotki; Ekkehart Malotki University of Nebraska Press, 1993
Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 By Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert University of Nebraska Press, 2010
Hopi Coyote Tales: Istutuwutsi By Ekkehart Malotki; Michael Lomatuway'ma; Anne-Marie Malotki University of Nebraska Press, 1984
Hopi Tales of Destruction By Ekkehart Malotki; Michael Lomatuway'Ma; Lorena Lomatuway'Ma; Sidney Namingha Jr.; Ekkehart Malotki University of Nebraska Press, 2002
Hopi Stories of Witchcraft, Shamanism, and Magic By Ekkehart Malotki; Ken Gary; Karen Knorowski University of Nebraska Press, 2001
Hopi Art-Modern Symbols of an Ancient People: Tradition, Heritage and Culture Blend in the Art of the Hopi By Jacka, Lois Essary International Journal of Humanities and Peace, Vol. 17, No. 1, Annual 2001
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