What are Hopi Native Americans?

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  • Written By: S. Ashraf
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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Hopi Native Americans are members of an Indian tribe indigenous to the southwestern United States. Along with the Zuni, Acoma and Laguna, Hopi Native Americans comprise the modern day Pueblo Indian nation. The Hopi, which means "Peaceful People," are thought to descend from the ancient Pueblo people commonly known as the Anasazi. The Hopi belong to the Pueblo nation, but their dialect is not related to other Pueblo Indian languages; instead, it is a distant relative of the Aztec language. They are the westernmost group of the Pueblo Indians and live in the arid highlands of northern Arizona near the Painted Desert.

This same area of Arizona has been home to the Hopi for more than one thousand years. The tribe lives on the top of and in the area surrounding three mesas. Tribal members residing on the mesas live in traditional villages, but those living in the area surrounding the mesas reside in small communities. Old Oraibi, located on the Third Mesa, is the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States, having been established approximately in the year 1050 as Hopi Native Americans settled the area.


Traditionally, the economy of the Hopi has centered on agriculture. In order to farm successfully in such an arid landscape, Hopi Native Americans developed a variety of agricultural practices. Between the mesas, they dry farm in the washes and valleys, but along the mesa walls, they garden on irrigated terraces. Some of the garden terraces have been in use since the year 1200. The Hopi sometimes are referred to as the world’s greatest dry farmers because of the success record of these centuries-old techniques,

In Hopi culture, men are in charge of agriculture. Men work the fields and own the fruit trees and livestock, but the land is owned by women. As a matrilineal society, a new Hopi husband joins the household of his mother-in-law. Social status and inheritance is through the clan of the female. Gender roles are traditional in that men are in charge of war, religion, politics and agriculture, and women take care of the home and children.

Agriculture is incorporated in the Hopi religion. Corn is vital to religious practices as the Mother that nurtures and sustains the Hopi people. It is used as a prayer offering and ceremonial object. The Hopi have a complex mythological and religious tradition stretching back centuries. At the center are the kiva, a ceremonial and social chamber, and a tribal religious life involving hundreds of kachina, which are the spirits of invisible life forces.


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