The Hopi country lies on the southern escarpment of Black Mesa, a highland about 60 miles wide, located in northeastern Arizona. Many scholars believe
that people have occupied the Black Mesa for at least 10,000 years. Archaeological research presents a clear development from the early period to the
lifestyle, technology, architecture, and agriculture seen on the three Hopi mesas today.
Hopi mythology holds that the Hopi entered this world through a hole in the bottom of the Grand Canyon, to the west of their villages. When a Hopi dies,
he or she returns to this area to enter the world below. As their origin myth demonstrates, all Hopi life is based on equilibrium, both social and individual;
reciprocities are designed to conciliate the supernatural powers to obtain rains, ensure good harvests, health, and peace.
The prominent features of Hopi society are a distinctive Pueblo lifestyle and language, although some dialectical differences exist among the communities.
The foundation of Hopi life was the cultivation of corn, beans, squash, and cotton. To the Hopi, corn was their mother, with the people drawing life from
the plant as a child does from its mother. Contact with the Spaniards would alter this lifestyle, but Hopi agriculture allowed this native people to persist in
a harsh, dry environment.
The Hopi established vast trade networks across the region, trading with the Navajo for sheep and wool, with the Havasupai for buckskin, and with the
Zuni and eastern Pueblo for turquoise and other goods. In times of severe drought, however, the Hopi lifestyle was attractive to their less sedentary
neighbors, who frequently raided Hopi pueblos in search of vital resources. Raids from neighboring native peoples had forced the Hopi to defensive
positions on Black Mesa, which would enable the Hopi, the westernmost Pueblo people, to staunchly resist European influence.
Spanish contact began with the Coronado expedition, though Spaniards were never numerous in Hopi country. Awatovi was the first town in Hopi territory
visited by the Spaniards. After a brief skirmish, a gift exchange occurred, and the Spaniards continued on their way. European contact was limited to
sporadic, widely spaced military expeditions and a few Franciscans who lived among the Hopi. The first Franciscan mission was established at Awatovi,
where the inhabitants initially resisted conversion but later acquiesced in response to a reported miracle: a cross placed upon the eyes of a blind Hopi
youth by Father Porras restored the child’s sight.
From their base at Awatovi, the Franciscans established four visitas, or local chapels, across the Hopi country. These areas saw only occasional visits by
priests, but some residents of Awatovi began to exhibit aspects of Christian zeal. Although the religious effect on the Hopi remained small, the material
effect was great, as domestic animals, new food plants, and European goods flowed into the country with the annual pack trains moving north from
The Hopi (peaceful) Indians, a pueblo-dwelling people on the Black Mesa in northeastern Arizona, relocated their villages to defensive positions in
remote areas to resist intrusion by neighboring tribes and the Spanish. (Brown Brothers, Sterling, Pennsylvania)
In 1680, the Hopi were willing participants in the anti-Spanish revolt that swept all of the Pueblo peoples. Because of their location, little is known of the
events in the Hopi towns during the revolt. When Diego de Vargas returned to the area in 1692, however, he found that Hopi country had become a
refuge for the irreconcilables among the Pueblo of the east, those who could not bring themselves to submit to Spanish domination. Continuing their
resistance to the Spanish invasion, the Hopi sacked Awatovi, the only Hopi pueblo to return to Christianity following the 1680 revolt, in 1700.
The following year, the governor at Santa Fe sent a military expedition to punish the Hopi for the destruction of Awatovi. Allied with the Ute, Havasupai,
and Navajo neighbors, the Hopi repelled the Spaniards. Militarily defeated, the Spaniards dispatched the Franciscans to return the Hopi to the Christian
fold. All Franciscan attempts failed, and, in 1741, the king of Spain assigned the Jesuits to the Hopi territory. For their part, the Jesuits answered the call
by dispatching no one to the area.
The military defeat of the Spaniards and continued resistance to Catholicism provided the Hopi with greater group cohesion. Rather than destroying their
identity, the arrival of the Spanish in their territory heightened Hopi identity.
By 1750, the only contact the Hopi had with the Spanish was the expeditions passing through Hopi territory on their way to the Colorado River and the
Grand Canyon. In 1800, the Hopi remained isolated on their mesas. Their brave stand against the Spanish allowed them to continue to live by the tenets
of their culture.
See also: Native American-European Relations; Native Americans; Navajo; New Mexico; Spanish Colonies on Mainland North
Milner, Clyde, Carol O’Connor, and Martha Sandweiss, eds. The Oxford History of the American West. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Sturtevant, William, ed. Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 9. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1983.Hopi – Crystalinks Allnewhairstyles
Hopi Photo Gallery
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