Hopi people have endured as a nation despite centuries of outside forces determined to change them. Yet, the Hopi have remained. They inhabit the oldest continuously occupied villages in the United States.
The Hopi people had been settled for centuries when the Spanish soldiers invaded their territory in 1540. They joined the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, successfully driving the Spanish out of Pueblo territory for 12 years. Throughout the remainder of Spanish rule, they successfully continued to resist Spanish civil and religious control.
Hopi people today continue to retain their own cultural foundation, incorporating only those aspects of the outside world that they perceive as advantageous to their lives.
José Aragon?, Zia Pueblo, ca. 1821-1835
Pine? (Pinus sp.), gesso, mineral paint, varnish (animal-hide glue), unidentified tanned hide; 20038-1, anonymous gift
When Spanish Catholic missionaries established a mission at the Hopi village of Awatovi in 1629, they purposefully built their mission church directly on top of one of the Awatovi kivas, Hopi traditional religious rooms. The friars decorated the mission with religious paintings that they used as aids in teaching their converts.
Threats to a Way of Life
The Spanish arrived in Hopi territory in the 16th century, bringing with them one of the greatest threats to the Hopi way of life.
When Spanish explorers and Catholic priests entered the land of the Hopi around 1540, only five Hopi villages existed. They aggressively attempted, through such methods as burning religious articles and torture, to subvert the Hopi culture. The brutal treatment continued until the people ousted the Spanish in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
Later, when Arizona became part of the United States in 1863, the effort to Americanize and convert the Hopi was taken over by various non-Catholic denominations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Despite the onslaught, first by Spanish and later by American forces, the Hopi people have been remarkably successful at withstanding foreign domination. Though the Hopi culture has adopted modernity in many practical ways, they continue to adhere to their ancient values and traditions.
Spanish, ca. 1890s
Bronze; L 34.5 x H 26.0 x W 25.5 cm; 17173, gift of Miss Rose Seibert
In 1540, Spanish soldiers invaded the Hopi territory. Then Spanish Catholic missionaries began their teaching, establishing a mission at the Hopi village of Awatovi.
Early Morning Katsina: Talavai Tihu
Hopi peoples, Arizona, ca. 1904
Cottonwood (Populus sp.), commercial and mineral paints, Wild Turkey feather (Meleagris gallopavo), cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), W 10.5 x H 26.5 cm; 3165-82
Two Katsinas came to announce the end of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt that drove out the Spanish for 12 years. When the Spanish re-entered the territory, they endeavored to reestablish the mission at Awatovi. Hopi from other villages prevented this intrusion by attacking and destroying the entire Awatovi village in 1700, ending Spanish religious control.
Life as a Hopi Today
Since the end of World War II there has been a large-scale movement of American Indian people away from the reservations to urban areas. Today more than 60 percent of the American Indian population live in cities.
The U.S. government encouraged the urban migration in the 1950s by developing a federal relocation program. The aim was to attract Indian people to the cities, where jobs were more readily available than on the reservations. Thousands of Native people responded to the promise of "good jobs" and "happy homes" as advertised in the governmental brochures.
For many, relocation was a failure. What they found, in general, were low-paying jobs and high-cost rents. Although some stayed and built a life, many returned to the reservations.
Unfamiliar challenges confront Native people who move to urban areas. Life in the city often means living next door to non-Indian strangers. It means trying to balance one's traditional cultural values with the often-conflicting requirements for success in mainstream society.
Although some Hopi people joined in the move from the reservation to urban areas, they maintain many of their traditions and values in the face of the challenges they encounter. All Hopi people consider the three mesas in northeast Arizona as home, and they endeavor to come home for Katsina ceremonies and feast days every year.
Farming remains an important activity for many Hopi people. The traditional staples of corn, beans, squash, and cotton are still planted and used in ceremonies. In addition, Hopi farmers grow melons, other varieties of fruit, and wheat.
Joint Use Area
For well over a century, the Hopi people have been embroiled in a struggle with the Navajo nation and the United States government to maintain their traditional land base. The roots of this conflict began in 1882 when President Chester A. Arthur established a reservation for the "Hopi and other such Indians" within the boundaries of the large Navajo Reservation. As the population of the Navajo grew, they began to occupy most of the territory, including Hopi land.
The court established the Joint Use Area (JUA) in 1962, and in 1974 the JUA was petitioned into two areas—one exclusively for the Hopi, the other for the Navajo.
Regina Naha's carving records this event and its dispute. In 1996, President William Clinton signed legislation designed to end the century-old disagreement. This new law stipulates that the Navajo families may remain on Hopi land under a seventy-five-year lease. In return, the U.S. government will compensate the Hopi tribe with a payment that will likely be used to purchase five-hundred thousand acres of trust land in Northern Arizona to add to its reservation.
Don't Worry, Be Hopi T-Shirt
Janice Q. Day, Second Mesa, Hopi Reservation, Arizona, 1988
Commercial cotton, ink, chemical/commercial dye; L 84.0 x W 98.0 cm; 35568-1
Janice Q. Day cleverly originated this humorous variation of the popular song title "Don't Worry, Be Happy," recorded by Bobby McFerrin in 1988. Hopi people enjoy wearing these amusing shirts and give them as gifts to their friends and relatives.
JUA Fence Crew
Regina Naha, Hopi Reservation, Arizona 1991
Cottonwood (Populus sp.), commercial paints, metal? wire, felt; L 20.0 x W 13.5 x H 21.0 cm; 35154-1