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The Hopi US Indian Tribe

The Hopi are a Native American people who primarily live on the 12,635 km² (2,531.773 sq mi) Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi Reservation is entirely surrounded by the much larger Navajo Reservation. The two nations used to share the Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area. The partition of this area, commonly known as Big Mountain, by Acts of Congress in 1974 and 1996, has resulted in seemingly endless controversy.

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Hopi Native American Culture

The Hopi are a Native American people who primarily live on the 12,635 km² (2,531.773 sq mi) Hopi Reservation in northeastern Arizona. The Hopi Reservation is entirely surrounded by the much larger Navajo Reservation. The two nations used to share the Navajo-Hopi Joint Use Area. The partition of this area, commonly known as Big Mountain, by Acts of Congress in 1974 and 1996, has resulted in seemingly endless controversy.

History of the Zuni Native Americans

Old Oraibi Village

The Oraibi village is the largest Hopi village and has been occupied since at least 1150 A.D. It has the most importance to Hopi history. It is the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States. In the 1540s there were at least 1,500 to 3,000 members of the Oraibi Village.

Early European Contact, 1540-1680

The first recorded European contact with the Hopis was by the Spanish in 1540. Spanish General Francisco Vasquez de Coronado had come to America on an expedition to explore the land. While at the Zuni villages, he learned of the Hopi tribe. De Coronado dispatched a man named Pedro de Tovar along with other members of their regime to find these Hopi villages. The Spanish wrote that the first Hopi village they visited was Awatovi. They later noted that there were about 16,000 Hopi and Zuni people. A few years later another Spanish explorer by the name of Garcia Lopez de Cardenas came to investigate the Rio Grande River and met the Hopi people. The Hopi warmly entertained de Cardenas and his men and directed him on his journey. In 1582-1583 the Hopis were visited by Antonio de Espejo’s expedition. He noted that there were around five Hopi villages and around 12,000 Hopi people. During these early years, the Spanish were exploring and dominating the southwestern region of the new world. Although they were present in many other areas, there were never a large number of them in 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 Hopis didn’t have any rivers to give them access to the Rio Grande, the Spanish never left any troops on their land. When they first arrived they brought with them Catholic Friars. 1629 is considered the Franciscan Period when 30 Friars came into Hopi country and created missionaries and churches at Awatovi. The Hopi Indians originally were against conversion, but after an incident where Father Porras restored the sight of a blind youth, by placing a cross over his eyes, the Hopis at Awatovi believed in Christianity. Most Hopis in the other villages continued to remain anti-Christian.

Pueblo Revolt of 1680

The priests weren’t very successful in converting the natives so they persecuted the Hopis for keeping their religion. The Spaniards also took advantage of Hopi labor and the products they produced. The harsh treatment and selfish acts of the Spanish caused the Hopis to become less tolerant of them. Out of all the Hopi Indians, only the Awatovi village disagreed with this statement. Eventually the Rio Grande Pueblo Indians suggested a revolt in the year 1680, and Hopis supported them. This was the first time that all the Pueblo Indians worked together to drive the Spanish colonists away. The Hopi people revolted against the Spanish, attacking missions, killing friars and destroying the Catholic churches that had been built. The revolt proved to be a success as the Spanish stayed out of the area of the Pueblo Indians and the Hopis until 1700. Years after the revolt, the Hopi Indians living in the village of Awatovi returned to Christianity despite the disapproval of the rest of the Hopi Villages.

Hopi-U.S Relations, 1849-1946

In 1849, John S. Calhoun was appointed official Indian agent of Indian Affairs for the Southwest Territory of the U.S. He had a headquarters in Santa Fe and was responsible for all Indian residents of the area. The first formal meeting between the Hopi Indians and the U.S Government happened in the year 1850 when seven Hopi leaders made the trip to Santa Fe to meet with Calhoun. Their objective was to ask the government for protection against the Navajo Indians. At this time, the Hopi leader was Nakwaiyamtewa. As a result of this meeting, Fort Defiance was established in 1851 in Arizona and troops were placed in Navajo country to deal with the Navajo threats. 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 Navajo Long Walk, the Hopis were able to enjoy a short period of peace. In 1847, Mormons founded Utah and tried to convert the Indians to Mormonism. Jacob Hamlin, a Mormon missionary, first made a trip into Hopi country in 1858. He was on good terms with the Hopi Indians and in 1875 a Mormon Church was built on Hopi land.


In 1875, an English trader by the name of Thomas Keams escorted the Hopi village leaders to meet President Arthur in Washington D.C. Lololoma, acting chief at the time, was very impressed with Washington. He believed that education allowed the whites to be able to live in such a way. This belief caused him to want a school built for the Hopi children. In 1886, twenty of the Hopi leaders signed a petition sent to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs requesting that a school be built on their land. In 1887, Thomas Keams opened Keams Canyon Boarding School at Keams Canyon for the Hopi Indians. The Oraibi people were not supportive of this school. They refused to send their children to a school that was 35 miles away from their villages. The main objective of Keams School was to teach the Hopi youth the ways of civilization by pushing Anglo-American values on them. This boarding school was a way to rid the Hopis of their Indian past. The children were forced to abandon their tribal identity and completely take on the white American culture. They received haircuts, new clothes, took on a “white” name and learned English. The boys learned farming and carpentry skills, while the girls were taught ironing, sewing and “civilized” dining. Keams School also reinforced American religions. The American Baptist Home Missionary 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 investigate the progress of the new school. They saw that few students were enrolled. They later returned with federal troops who threatened to arrest the Hopi parents if they refused to send their kids to school. The parents backed down and the Commissioner took children to fill the school.

Hopi Land

The Hopis have always viewed their land as sacred. Agriculture is a very important part of their culture and their villages are spread out across the northern part Arizona. The Hopi and the Navajos both never knew of land boundaries, including state boundaries, and just lived on the land that their ancestors did. The Navajos have a history of harassing the Hopis, occupying their land and wandering freely over it. The Navajos stole crops and livestock from the Hopis and set up villages on Hopi land. On December 16, 1882 President Chester Arthur passed first executive order of 1882, creating a reservation for the Hopi Indians. Their reservation was much smaller than the Navajo reservation, which was the largest in the country. The Hopi reservation is a perfect rectangle 55 by 70 miles, in the middle of the Navajo Reservation and their villages only take up about half of the land within their reservation. This reservation kept white settlers from coming through their land, but it did not protect the Hopis against the Navajos. Significant amount of time has been spent between the Hopi and the Navajos fighting over land. Eventually the Hopis went before the Committee of Interior and Insular Affairs to ask them to help provide a solution to the dispute between the two tribes. The tribes argued over around 1.8 million acres of land in northern Arizona. In 1887 the U.S Government passed the [[Dawes Allotment Act]. The purpose of this Act was to divide up tribal land into privately owned individual family plots of 640 acres or less. The remaining land would be free for U.S citizens to purchase. For the Hopis, this Act would destroy their ability to farm, which was their main means of income. Fortunately the attempt of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to set up land allotments in the Southwest never resulted in the division of Hopi land.

Oraibi Split

The history of the Oraibi split is one of the most famous about the Hopi tribe. The chief of the Oraibi at this time, Lololoma, was very excited about Hopi education but the Oraibi people were divided on this issue. Most of the village was conservative and refused to allow their children to attend school. These Indians were referred to as the “hostiles” because they opposed the American government and their attempts at assimilation. The rest of the Oraibi Hopis were called the “friendlies” because of their liberal attitude and acceptance of the white people. The “hostiles,” unlike the “friendlies,” refused to let their children attend school. In 1893, the Oraibi Day School was opened in the Oraibi village. Even though this school was within the village, the hostile parents still refused to allow their children to attend. In 1894, a group of Hopi parents announced that hey were against the ideas of Washington and did not want their children to be exposed to the culture of the White American people. They also said that this argument couldn’t be settled peacefully, so the government sent in troops to arrest the nineteen parents and sent them to Alcatraz Prison where they stayed for a year. Another main Oraibi figure at this time, Lomahongyoma, competed with Lololoma for leadership in the tribe and of the Hopi people. Eventually the village split in 1906 after a battle between Hostiles and Friendlies. The conservative Hostiles were forced to leave the village and form their own village, called Hotevilla.

Hopi Recognition

At the turn of the century, the U.S Government put a policy into effect that created day schools, missionaries, provided farming assistants and physicians on every Indian reservation. This policy required that every reservation set up its own Indian-police and Tribal courts, and appoint a chief or leader who would represent their tribe within 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 Navajos at this time had 22,500 members and have consistently increased in population. During the early years of this century, only about 3% of Hopis lived off the reservation. In 1924 Congress officially declared Native Americans to be U.S citizens. The Indian Reorganization Act helped the Hopis to establish a constitution for their tribe and in 1936 also helped them to create their own 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 different “Articles” all with a different topic of interest. The articles cover the topics of territory, membership, and organization of their government with a legislative, executive and judicial branch. The rest of the articles discuss the twelve villages recognized by the tribe, lands, elections, Bill of Rights and more.

Hopi-Navajo Land Disputes

From the 1940s to the 1970s, the Navajo Indians kept moving their villages closer and closer to Hopi land, causing the Hopis to once again bring up the land 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. 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 Navajos 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 Navajos. Between 1961-1964, the Hopi tribal council signed leases with the U.S Government that allowed for companies to explore and drill for oil, gas and minerals within Hopi country. This drilling brought over 3 million dollars to the Hopi Tribe. In 1974, The Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act was passed and begun the Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation Commission that made sure every Hopi and Navajo Indian living on the other’s land was to be removed. In 1992, the Hopi Reservation was increased to 1.5 million acres.

Hopis Today

The Hopi tribe today receives most of its income from natural resources. On their 1.8 million acre reservation, there is a significant amount of coal mined yearly. Today tourism is very prevalent and important to Hopi life. There is not much set up specifically for tourists with the exception of their Cultural Center and a few campgrounds. Through a grant-loan from the Economic Development Administration and some of the tribe’s own money, the Hopi tribal council constructed the Hopi Cultural Center including a restaurant, motel, craft shops, museum on the Second Mesa. Before arriving, tourists must know the laws and rules of the Hopi reservation. Typically photography is prohibited, as well as participating and viewing certain tribal ceremonies. The Hopi are a relatively poor tribe and as of 1990, 45% of families fell below poverty level. The Hopi Tribal Government provides 45% of jobs and most individuals make their income from agriculture and livestock products. Because the U.S Government holds Indian owned land “in-trust,” the Hopi land cannot be taxed by any state, county, city or other local governments. Although there have been controversies regarding education in the past, today the Hopis acknowledge that education is top priority for their children. The tribe has realized the need to create funds for the education. In 2000, the Hopi Tribal council, through tribal law, created the Hopi Education Endowment Fund. The HEEF, through funding, gives financial assistance to Hopi students. The mission of the HEEF is to make sure that

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