The Hopi are an ancient People whose history dates back over 2,000 years to the Ancestral Puebloans of the Southwest. Dwelling in apartment-style homes built out of adobe and other natural materials, the Ancestral Puebloans built ceremonial kivas, created sophisticated pottery, and established complex matrilineal societies throughout the region that is now Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado.
Around 700 AD, the Hopi advanced their agricultural practices, building thriving communities centered around the corn they grew in the Mesa valleys. For many centuries, the Hopi lived peacefully on and around the Mesas, honoring their Kachinas - deities central to Hopi spirituality - and engaging in farming and adobe-home building. In 900 AD and 1100 AD, respectively, the villages of Walpi and Oraibi were built. Both continue to be inhabited by Hopi People to this day.
The Hopi greeted Spanish forces warmly upon first contact in 1540, but the Spaniards soon began to take advantage of Hopi hospitality, imposing their Catholic religion and way of life on the tribe throughout the 1600s. Accounts from this time of forced conversion tell of Hopi men being beaten to death by priests, and many Hopi were enslaved by Spanish occupiers. In response to this oppression, several groups of Puebloan Peoples came together to drive out the Spanish in 1680. This event came to be known as the Pueblo Revolt, and the Spanish were expelled from Hopi lands.
While most Hopi had retained their traditional beliefs and practices, a small number of Hopi living in the village of Awatovi had converted to Catholicism. Fears of a Spanish return to Hopi lands abounded; the tensions between traditional and converted Hopi came to a head in 1700, when men from other Hopi villages attacked Awatovi, killing all the men present and sending the women and children to live in other villages.
By the 1850s, US government officials and troops had entered the area and established a tenuous relationship with the Hopis as conflict with the Navajo Tribe continued in the region. In the 1880s, Hopi children began to be forced into boarding schools run by the federal government. Hopi parents were threatened with arrest if they refused to send their children to the schools, in which young Hopi were forced to give up their traditional ways and cut their hair. In late 1882, a reservation for the Hopi was formally established. In the 20th century, an influx of extractive industry development came to Hopi lands, and while the opening of Peabody Coal mines on the reservation took a toll on the environment and water reserves of both the Hopi and Navajo Nations, the closure of their largest mine in 2019 contributed to an ongoing unemployment crisis for Hopi communities. The Hopi have remained resilient amidst hardship: In the face of attempted conversion, assimilation, and indoctrination, Hopi culture and spirituality continues to be practiced to this day.
THE HOPI PEOPLE
The word “Hopi” itself can be translated to “behaving one; one who is mannered, civilized, peaceable, polite; who adheres to the Hopi Way.” This definition encapsulates the spirit of the Hopi- a People rooted in the values of humility, generosity, family, and community.
While many Hopi live in modern housing in and around the reservation, as well as across the country, some still live in the traditional Hopi villages that dot the Mesas of Northeast Arizona. As the Hopi are a Puebloan people, traditional villages are comprised of Adobe-style homes, many of which have been continuously inhabited since the late 17th century. Hopi villages are centered around spirituality and tradition, with a robust ceremonial calendar that features dances throughout the year in honor of the land and the Kachina deities. Corn forms the backbone of Hopi life and spiritual practices, and the tribe continues to practice traditional dry-farming to cultivate corn, beans, squash, and other foods integral to daily life on Hopi lands. With its rich traditions that have been carried on over thousands of years, Hopi spirituality has become a point of interest for many outside of the tribe. In the wake of colonization, the Hopi have faced much exploitation of their culture. Efforts to protect these sacred places have been put in place by the tribe to ensure that the Hopi may continue to practice the traditional lifeways they have maintained for millennia in a private manner.
Holding a delicate balance between ancient tradition and modern life, the Hopi People are a vibrant community working to preserve their language, art, and culture while striving to develop economic opportunities and a bright future for the generations to come.
The Hopi Reservation (Hopitutskwa) sits in the northeast corner of Arizona, encircled by the Navajo Nation on all sides. A high desert landscape featuring creeks & washes, rocky canyons, distant mountains, and three stunning mesas, the Hopi reservation covers just over 2,530 square miles. It is comprised of 12 villages, most of which are located atop the mesas. The tribal government of the Hopi Reservation is based in Kykotsmovi Village.
Many sacred sites and Kivas - Hopi ceremonial lodges - are located throughout the reservation, and vast corn fields can be seen beneath the horizon. Through the continued passage of ancestral knowledge over thousands of years, the Hopi have mastered the art of dry-farming - a sustainable way to grow crops in the desert soil with minimal-to-zero irrigation.
The Hopi relationship to the land is a deeply spiritual one, and many ceremonies center on planting, harvests, seasonal cycles and the foods that sustain Hopi life. Hopitutskwa, with its beautiful dance between the ancient and the modern, is a land steeped in culture and possibility.
While many Hopi live in modern housing across Hopitutskwa, some still live in traditional villages made up of adobe-style homes. In both modern and traditional homes, roof damage and other needed repairs can make life difficult for the families they house. Food deserts make adequate nutrition a challenge for people on the Hopi Reservation; although more than 9,000 people live on the 2,500 square mile Hopi reservation, there are only two small grocery stores (International Association for Indigenous Aging). Elders and parents often have to take an over 2-hour round trip to larger towns like Winslow or Flagstaff to grocery shop for their often multi-generational households.
Even in the high desert, cold winter temperatures and snowfall can make the months of November-March difficult. Many in the tribe had utilized coal as a heat source since the 1300s, but a recent ban on burning coal on the Hopi reservation has increased the importance of firewood to families seeking warmth in the winter; trees, however, are sparse on the reservation. Alcoholism and drug use have an impact on aspects of daily life for some families living on the Hopi Reservation. Water access is also a challenge for Hopi people: the nearest sources of running water are often miles away from many of the reservation's villages, and three-quarters of the reservation’s population survives on water tainted with high levels of arsenic, though efforts are underway to mitigate this contamination (High Country News).
The Tipi Raisers is a registered nonprofit in Colorado and South Dakota and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (C)(3).
All donations are tax deductible and a receipt will be mailed or emailed.
Donations can be made online or mailed to:
7830 W. Alameda Ave. Ste. 103-186
Lakewood, CO 80226