The Hopi are one of many Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. When first encountered by the Spanish in the 16th century, these cultures were referred to as Pueblo people because they lived in villages (pueblos in the Spanish language). The Hopi are descended from the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (Hopi: Hisatsinom or Navajo: Anasazi) who constructed large apartment-house complexes in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. They lived along the Mogollon Rim, especially from the 12th–14th century, when they abandoned their large villages. No researchers have been able to determine the reason, although it is likely that a drying of water sources would have forced the people away.
Old Oraibi is one of four original Hopi villages, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages within the territory of the United States. In the 1540s the village was recorded as having 1,500–3,000 residents.
Early European contact, 1540–1680
The first recorded European contact with the Hopi was by the Spanish in A.D 1540. Spanish General Francisco Vásquez de Coronado went to North America to explore the land. While at the Zuni villages, he learned of the Hopi tribe. Coronado dispatched Pedro de Tovar and other members of their party to find the Hopi villages. The Spanish wrote that the first Hopi village they visited was Awatovi. They noted that there were about 16,000 Hopi and Zuni people. A few years later, the Spanish explorer García López de Cárdenas investigated the Rio Grande and met the Hopi. They warmly entertained Cardenas and his men and directed him on his journey.
In 1582–1583 the Hopi were visited by Antonio de Espejo’s expedition. He noted that there were five Hopi villages and around 12,000 Hopi people. During that period the Spanish explored and colonized the southwestern region of the New World, but never sent many forces or settlers to the Hopi country. Their visits to the Hopi were random and spread out over many years. Many times the visits were from military explorations.
The Spanish colonized near the Rio Grande and, because the Hopi did not live near rivers that gave access to the Río Grande, the Spanish never left any troops on their land. The Spanish were accompanied by missionaries, Catholic friars. Beginning in 1629, with the arrival of 30 friars in Hopi country, the Franciscan Period started. The Franciscans had missionaries assigned and built a church at Awatovi. The Hopi originally were against conversion to Catholicism. After an incident where Father Porras purportedly restored the sight of a blind youth by placing a cross over his eyes, the Hopi at Awatovi believed in Christianity. Most Hopi in the other villages continued to resist conversion, wanting to maintain their own ways.
Pueblo Revolt of 1680
Spanish Roman Catholic priests were only marginally successful in converting the Hopi and persecuted them in a draconian manner for adhering to Hopi religious practices. The Spanish occupiers in effect enslaved the Hopi populace, compelling them to endure forced labor and hand over goods and crops. Spanish oppression and attempts to convert the Hopi caused the Hopi over time to become increasingly intolerant towards their occupiers. The documentary record shows evidence of Spanish abuses. In 1655, a Franciscan priest by the name of Salvador de Guerra beat to death a Hopi man named Juan Cuna. As punishment, Guerra was removed from his post on the Hopi mesas and sent to Mexico City. In 1656, a young Hopi man by the name of Juan Suñi was sent to Santa Fe as an indentured servant because he impersonated the resident priest Alonso de Posada at Awatovi, an act believed to have been carried out in the spirit of Hopi clowning. During the period of Franciscan missionary presence (1629-1680), the only significant conversions took place at the pueblo of Awatovi. In the 1670s, the Rio Grande Pueblo Indians put forward the suggestion to revolt in 1680 and garnered Hopi support.
The Hopi and Pueblo Revolt was the first time that diverse Pueblo groups had worked in unison to drive out the Spanish colonists. In the Hopi revolt against the Spanish, local Catholic Church missions were attacked, friars and priests were all put to death, and the churches and mission buildings were dismantled stone by stone. It took two decades for the Spanish to reassert their control over the Rio Grande Pueblos but thereafter Spanish influence in the more distant Hopi area was more limited. By 1700, the Spanish friars had begun rebuilding a smaller church at Awatovi. During the winter of 1700–01, selected teams of men from the other Hopi villages sacked Awatovi at the request of the village chief, killed all the men of the village, and removed the women and children to other Hopi villages, then completely destroyed the village and burned it to the ground. Thereafter, despite intermittent attempts in the course of the 18th century, the Spanish failed subsequently to ever re-establish a presence in Hopi country.
Hopi-U.S relations, 1849–1946
In 1849, James S. Calhoun was appointed official Indian agent of Indian Affairs for the Southwest Territory of the U.S. He had headquarters in Santa Fe and was responsible for all of the Indian residents of the area. The first formal meeting between the Hopi and the U.S government occurred in 1850 when seven Hopi leaders made the trip to Santa Fe to meet with Calhoun. They wanted the government to provide protection against the Navajo, an Apachean-language tribe, but distinct from other Apache. At this time, the Hopi leader was Nakwaiyamtewa.
The US established Fort Defiance in 1851 in Arizona, and placed troops in Navajo country to deal with their threats to the Hopi. General James J. Carleton, with the assistance of Kit Carson, was assigned to travel through the area. They "captured" the Navajo natives and forced them to the fort. As a result of the Long Walk of the Navajo, the Hopi enjoyed a short period of peace.
In 1847, Mormons settled in Utah and tried to convert the Indians to Mormonism. Jacob Hamblin, a Mormon missionary, first made a trip into Hopi country in 1858. He was on good terms with the Hopi Indians, and in 1875 an LDS Church was built on Hopi land.
In 1875, the English trader Thomas Keam escorted Hopi leaders to meet President Chester A. Arthur in Washington D.C. Loololma, village chief of Oraibi at the time, was very impressed with Washington. As he concluded that education allowed the whites to live that way, he returned wanting a formal school to be built for Hopi children. In 1886, twenty Hopi leaders signed a petition sent to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs requesting that a school be built on their land. In 1887, a federal boarding school was established at Keams Canyon for Hopi children.
The Oraibi people did not support the school and refused to send their children 35 miles (56 km) from their villages. The Keams Canyon School was organized to teach the Hopi youth the ways of European-American civilization. It forced them to use English and give up their traditional ways. The children were made to abandon their tribal identity and completely take on European-American culture. They received haircuts, new clothes, took on Anglo names, and learned English. The boys learned farming and carpentry skills, while the girls were taught ironing, sewing and "civilized" dining. The school also reinforced European-American religions. The American Baptist Home Mission Society provided the students with services every morning and religious teachings during the week. In 1890, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs arrived in Hopi country with other government officials to review the progress of the new school. Seeing that few students were enrolled, they returned with federal troops who threatened to arrest the Hopi parents who refused to send their children to school. The commissioner forcibly took children to fill the school.
Agriculture is an important part of Hopi culture, and their villages are spread out across the northern part of Arizona. The Hopi and the Navajo did not have a conception of land being bounded and divided. They lived on the land that their ancestors did. On December 16, 1882 President Arthur passed an executive order creating a reservation for the Hopi. It was much smaller than the Navajo reservation, which was the largest in the country.
The Hopi reservation was originally a rectangle 55 by 70 miles (110 km), in the middle of the Navajo Reservation, with their village lands taking about half of the land. The reservation prevented encroachment by white settlers, but it did not protect the Hopis against the Navajos.
The Hopi and the Navajo fought over land, and they had different models of sustainability, as the Navajo were sheepherders. Eventually the Hopi went before the Senate Committee of Interior and Insular Affairs to ask them to help provide a solution to the dispute. The tribes argued over approximately 1,800,000 acres (7,300 km2) of land in northern Arizona. In 1887 the U.S government passed the Dawes Allotment Act. The purpose was to divide up communal tribal land into individual allotments by household, to encourage a model of European-American style subsistence farming on individually owned family plots of 640 acres (2.6 km2) or less. The Department of Interior would declare remaining land "surplus" to the tribe's needs and make it available for purchase by U.S citizens. For the Hopi, the Act would destroy their ability to farm, their main means of income. The Bureau of Indian Affairs did not set up land allotments in the Southwest.
Abandoned house and view from Oraibi village
The chief of the Oraibi, Lololoma enthusiastically supported Hopi education, but his people were divided on this issue. Most of the village was conservative and refused to allow their children to attend school. These natives were referred to as "hostiles" because they opposed the American government and its attempts to force assimilation. The rest of the Oraibi were called "friendlies" because of their acceptance of white people. The "hostiles" refused to let their children attend school. In 1893, the Oraibi Day School was opened in the Oraibi village. Although the school was in the village, traditional parents still refused to allow their children to attend.
In 1894, a group of Hopi parents announced that they were against the ideas of Washington and did not want their children to be exposed to the culture of white Americans. The government sent troops to arrest the 19 parents and sent them to Alcatraz Prison, where they stayed for a year. Another Oraibi leader, Lomahongyoma, competed with Lololoma for village leadership. In 1906 the village split after a conflict between hostiles and friendlies. The conservative hostiles left and formed a new village, known as Hotevilla.
At dawn of the 20th century, the US government established day schools, missions, farming bureaus, and clinics on every Indian reservation. This policy required that every reservation set up its own police force, tribal courts, and appoint a leader who would represent their tribe to the U.S government. In 1910 in the Census for Indians, the Hopi Tribe had a total of 2,000 members, which was the highest in 20 years. The Navajo at this time had 22,500 members and have consistently increased in population. During the early years of this century, only about three percent of Hopis lived off the reservation. In 1924 Congress officially declared Native Americans to be U.S citizens with the Indian Citizenship Act.
Under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, the Hopi established a constitution to create their own tribal government, and in 1936 elected a Tribal Council. The Preamble to the Hopi constitution states that they are a self-governing tribe, focused on working together for peace and agreements between villages in order to preserve the "good things of Hopi life." The constitution consists of thirteen articles, addressing territory, membership, and organization of their government with legislative, executive and judicial branches.
From the 1940s to the 1970s, the Navajo moved their villages ever closer to Hopi land, causing the Hopi to raise the issue with the U.S government. This resulted in the establishment of "District 6" which placed a boundary around the Hopi villages on the first, second, and third mesas, thinning the reservation to 501,501 acres (2,029.50 km2). In 1962 the courts issued the "Opinion, Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Judgment," which stated that the U.S government did not grant the Navajo any type of permission to reside on the Hopi Reservation that was declared in 1882; and that the remaining Hopi land was to be shared with the Navajo.
Between 1961–1964, the Hopi tribal council signed leases with the U.S government that allowed companies to explore and drill for oil, gas, and minerals in Hopi country. This drilling brought over three million dollars to the Hopi Tribe. In 1974, The
Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act was passed. It created the
Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission, which forced the relocation of any Hopi or Navajo living on the other's land. In 1992, the Hopi Reservation was increased to 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2).
Today's Hopi Reservation is traversed by Arizona State Route 264, a paved road that links the numerous Hopi villages.