The Hopi or “Hopituh Shi-nu-mu” meaning “The Peaceful People” or the “Peaceful Little Ones” are well known Indian Nation in Northern Arizona, especially known for their “Kachina Dolls”. The Navajo name for the Hopi is Anasazi which means “ancient enemies”. The Hopi’s are very peaceful tribe whose reservation lies somewhat in the center of the Navajo Nation and although they co-exist because of their geography their relationship is somewhat strained because of their tribal histories.

The cliff painting of the Mesa Verde and other areas are said to be “guides” for their warriors and they claim that the “snake-shaped” mounds in the eastern United States were built by their ancestors. Hopi Indians are one of the Pueblo Indian tribes. About 3500 Hopi live on the Hopi reservation in northeastern Arizona. One village, Oraibi, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in the United States. It was founded about 800 years ago.

The Hopi reservation was established in 1882, but until the beginning of the 20th century the people were practically independent of government authority. Since that time official supervision, assistance, and sometimes-blundering interference in harmless religious and personal customs, has become more and more effective, and the result is the gradual abandonment of the old order.

The Hopi Indians speak the language of Shoshone an. The Hopi men wore a straight sleeved or sleeveless shirt of undyed, native cotton, worn like a poncho; knitted cotton leggings reaching half way up the thighs; cotton loin cloth; and moccasins of deerskin. Women wore an undyed cotton robe, which passed under the left arm and was fastened above the right shoulder and an embroidered belt.

Hopi Kachina Dolls

 High on the mesas in the arid land of northeastern Arizona live the Hopi, westernmost of the Pueblo people. A small, peaceful and friendly group, they have occupied their barren mesa tops and farmed their arid but fertile valleys for many centuries. Clinging tenaciously to their marginal land, they have withstood drought, famine and the onslaught of nomadic raiders. The pressure of Spanish domination, pestilence and, more recently, cultural inundation have diminished but not destroy their traditional pattern of life. The Hopi are bound together by their religion, a multi-stranded cord uniting them to withstand the hazards of a harsh environment and in rebuffing foreign incursions. Their religion is both their bulwark and the lure that attracts forces that would destroy them (Wright 1).

Hopi traditions and lifestyles have not changed significantly over the years. To this day the Hopi Indians are still found where they have been found for many years. The Hopi have withstood great loss and disappointment, but have never lost their faith and union between each other. A major part of the Hopi life is their religious beliefs and ceremonies. Many of the religious ceremonies that the Hopi Indians perform are still performed to the present day. An important part of the Hopi religion is the Kachina. Along with the religious aspect the Kachina has other meaning to the Hopi. The three main aspects of the Hopi Kachina are the supernatural beings, the dancers who impersonate these beings and the wooden dolls.

To the Hopi Indians of Arizona the first aspect of the Kachina is the supernatural beings. The Hopi do no necessarily worship the Kachinas so much as they consider them as a supernatural force to be recognized and worked with. The supernatural beings of the Kachina are part of the religious beliefs of the Hopi Indians.


The Hopi are a group of Shoshone an-speaking American Indians living in the well-known pueblo type of “primitive apartment-house” towns placed on and at the foot of three mesas in northeastern Arizona. They have been settled there since about 1200 A.D. (Aberle). The original Hopi reservation was established by executive order in 1882 (Born A Chief). The history of the Hopi, though it contains little aggressive warfare, is full of conflict with the Spanish, with non-Pueblo Indians, and with the Americans.

The Hopis are a farming and herding tribe. They live a life full of uncertainties though because of the scarce and unpredictable rainfall, cold winters, killing frosts, and hot summers. All the uncontrollable forces of nature made it necessary for hard work even though they never knew how much it would actually pay off in the end. With the threat of famine always there; even today it is not uncommon to see families with a year’s worth of corn stored away as a safeguard. Starvation did occur sometimes because of all these factors in the worst scenarios. In the 1880’s drought and famine killed hundreds and left an indelible mark on anyone’s memory that was alive at that time (Hall). The book states the people went crazy from hunger and hallucinated about food.

They hauled their water in jugs from the springs at the bottom of the mesas, which were a mile away. They collected their wood from the dead junipers on the tablelands for their homes. They tilled their fields in the sand dunes and washes traveling anywhere from three to twenty miles on foot to get there (Hall). Planting is done periodically in May and June harvesting in September. Fields and gardens require a lot of attention so that they will be kept from harms way. Corn and beans is their main agricultural base. Herding of sheep, cattle, goats, and other animals was men’s work and they came with their own complications.

what is important to the Hopi?

It is said that culture is learned. The Hopi culture has been taught to each new generation as a fourth way of life. Their fourth way of life are farming and gardening which are fundamental circumstances of Hopi culture.

It started since the coming out of the corn. It has said to be that as the Hopi moved from the third way of life, they were offered corn by Ma’saw. Which lead to the Hopis being left with the short blue ear corn.

They learned that this fourth way of life would be strenuous. The Hopis knew this, but still must surrender to the corn as a way of life, because it was their culture.

The Hopi learned how to adjust to their dried forsaken weather. By doing so, they used different ways of cultivation. They would perform dry farming and gardening on irrigated platforms.

Dry farming is used depending on unaffected condensation. Gardening irrigation is possible because of the everlasting springs at each village that first allowed resolution. The Hopi use modern and traditional machinery. They used tractors, discs, digging sticks, and hoes.

These Hopis lived in northern Arizona where there is a high-risk in farming and gardening. This high-risk was caused by cutworms, coyotes, rabbits, crows, ravens, flood, drought and the dry climate. To the Hopis, agriculture is their act in faith. Agriculture is their religious focus and an industrial pastime.

The Hopis consider agriculture to be important, because agriculture is their culture. Agriculture reinforces their traditions and customs in each new generation of Hopi gardeners.

The Oraibi Split

   The split of the Third Mesa pueblo, Oraibi, occurred on September 7, 1906. The split immediately changed the lives of roughly 800 inhabitants of Oraibi who represented nearly half of the Hopi population. Those who left Oraibi were forced to start their lives over in a new location. From a long-term perspective, the split is consequential because it led to the establishment of other villages (e.g., Bacavi, Hotevilla, and Kykotsmovi) of Third Mesa that did not exist before the division (Waters 1977: 113). This eventually resulted in different versions of Hopi history and the Oraibi split from each village. Anthropologists have offered many different explanations of the Oraibi fissioning. These various proposals have caused the interpretation and understanding of the division of Oraibi to be very complex. This essay evaluates explanations of four different anthropologists: Mischa Titiev, Richard Bradfield, Richard Clemmer, and Peter Whiteley.

Titiev provides the first explanation to consider. Taking all of Titiev arguments together, he suggests that internal social structure pressures and instabilities led to the disintegration of the Oraibi pueblo (Titiev 1992: 48). Titiev analysis of Oraibi disintegration is based on his view of Hopi social structure and social integration. For Titiev, three features of the traditional social structure of Hopi villages, including Oraibi, were essential.

The first feature was the organization of Hopi matrilineal descent groups into households, lineages, clans, and phratries (Titiev 1992:51). In Titiev’s view, Hopi clans were basically autonomous and corporate, owning land, rituals, and kivas. The second feature was the organization of religious societies and kiva groups. The chief priests of religious sodalities were drawn from the descent group that “owned” a particular religious ceremony (Page 1994: 47).

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