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Archaeologists relate the Pueblo to an older Southwest culture known by the term Basket Maker. The entire cultural sequence is called the Anasazi (Navajo for "ancient ones") culture. During the early Basket Maker phase (100? bc-ad 500?) prehistoric settlements were established in the northern part of the Southwest. The inhabitants practiced weaving. They lived in caves or built shelters of poles and adobe mud. Pumpkins and corn were grown as a supplement to hunting and the gathering of wild plants. Food was stored in underground pits, often lined with stone slabs. With the addition of a bean crop and the domestication of the turkey, agriculture became more important than hunting and gathering during the Modified Basket Maker period (ad 500-700). Pottery was introduced. The food storage pits developed into semisubterranean houses and ceremonial chambers, and buildings began to take their present connected form.

The transition from the Basket Maker to the Pueblo culture occurred about ad 700. Stone construction was adopted, and the connected, now-aboveground houses became larger. The ceremonial chamber developed into the kiva, an underground chamber used for rituals and as a male lodge. Several kinds of corn were grown, and the cultivation of cotton may have been introduced. Pottery was produced in a diversity of shapes and styles. During this period the Anasazi made their greatest territorial expansion, reaching as far as central Utah, southern Colorado, and a large part of northern Mexico. During the Classic Pueblo period (1050-1300) the northernmost regions were no longer occupied, and the population became concentrated in large multistoried, terraced pueblos and in similar villages built in recesses in cliffs. Notable advances occurred in pottery and weaving. At the end of this period many large centers of Pueblo life were abandoned, possibly because of drought or because of invading bands of Navajo and Apache. During the Regressive Pueblo period (1300-1700) many villages inhabited today were founded. Houses became less elaborate, but pottery and weaving continued to develop.

During the Modern Pueblo period (1700-present), cattle, goats, horses, and sheep were introduced by the Spanish, and wool replaced cotton as the principal textile.

The Pueblos, probably the Zuni, were first encountered by the Spanish in 1539, by the Spanish Franciscan missionary Marcos de Niza. A year later the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, searching for the legendary Seven Cities of C’bola, led an expedition among the Hopi; failing to find any treasure, he withdrew. In 1598 the Spanish occupied the Pueblo country, and by 1630 Spanish missions were established in almost every village. A mass Pueblo revolt in 1680 drove the Spanish from the territory. No other indigenous group had succeeded in doing this, and the Pueblo were not reconquered until 1692. Few of the missions were reestablished, and most of the villages continued their ancient religion. The number of villages during this time was reduced from about 80 to about 30. The Pueblo remained under Spanish, and then Mexican, domination until the close of the Mexican War in 1848, when they came under United States jurisdiction. Throughout this time, they preserved their traditional culture to an unusually high degree, often adopting superficial religious or governmental changes but maintaining the old ways in secrecy. The western villages, in particular, resisted Spanish influence; in the eastern villages, some Spanish elements were assimilated into the underlying indigenous ways.


According to Fewkes, Hopi is a contraction of Hopitu, meaning "peaceful ones," or Hopitu-shinumu, "peaceful all people." The name Moke (Moqui), which was frequently used to refer to the Hopi before the early twentieth century, is of disputed significance, but is never used by the Hopi themselves.

The Hopi live on a reservation of nearly 4,000 square miles in northeastern Arizona. Their territory was traditionally known as the Tusayan region. The Hopi language belongs to the Shoshonean branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. In 1950, the Hopi population was 3,500, with village populations averaging 300. (Eggan 1950: 18). For more extensive summaries of the Hopi culture, see Lowie (1940), Murdock (1934), Forde (1934), and Fewkes (1959)

The climate of northeastern Arizona is dry and temperate. Rainfall averages less than 10 inches per year, primarily in midsummer thunderstorms. The area is a plateau marked with washes, gullies, canyons, and mesas. The natural vegetation includes sage, yucca, greasewood, cactus, etc. The fauna include deer, antelope, wildcat, badger, coyote, and rabbits. Dogs and turkeys are the Hopi's only native domesticates.

In spite of the aridity, the Hopi were traditionally agriculturalists, the principal crop being maize. In addition they raised beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, and cotton. Irrigation was not practiced except in small gardens. Sheepherding was also a major subsistence activity. Hunting was primarily a ceremonial activity, and methods and implements such as the rabbit stick, a throwing club similar in function to the boomerang (but non-returnable), were devised to avoid shedding the blood of the animals taken.

Hopi settlements were built on the tops of three mesas, as a protection against attacks. Located on First Mesa are the pueblos of Sichomovi and Walpi. On Second Mesa are Mishongnovi, Shipaulovi, and Shongopovi. Bakavi, Hotevilla and Oraibi are located on Third Mesa. In addition, New Oraibi and Moenkopi, which are new villages formed by dissidents from Old Oraibi, are also located on Third Mesa. Hano, a non-Hopi Tewa pueblo, is also located on First Mesa.

The pueblos consisted of terraced apartment buildings of adobe arranged around streets and plazas. The structures were two or more stories in height. Residence was matrilocal and extended families lived together. In addition, each pueblo had a number of underground structures, known as kivas, where religious activities were conducted.

Each pueblo was politically independent. There was no overall chief or council. There was usually a village chief, who was also leader of the most important ceremony, Soyal. This office was hereditary in the Bear clan. The chief owned the land and cared for and protected his people. He was aided by a council of hereditary clan leaders, who were also ceremonial leaders within the pueblo.

There were a large number of matrilineal clans, with animal or plant names. The clans owned the cultivated land which was parceled out to individual families. The clans also had communal rights in shrines, water sources, ritual equipment, and kivas. Political and ceremonial offices were held in lineages and were hereditary.

Religion among the Hopi involved elaborate ceremonialism in which Kachinas occupied a prominent place. The Kachinas represented spiritual beings, including the spirits of plants, animals, stars, ancestors, etc., who aided men and women in their journey through life. There were some 250 types of Kachinas, and these types were constantly changing as old ones died out and new ones appeared. Kachinas were on earth for six months of the year. They made their first appearance at winter solstice in the Soyal ceremony and left in July, after the first fruits had been harvested and their aid was no longer needed. (In the spirit world everything was reversed, so it was winter solstice there, and the Kachinas were needed.) The kiva groups were responsible for the performance of the Kachina ceremonies, and the responsibility rotated among the kivas from year to year. All children were initiated into the Kachina cult. This initiation took place in February, at the celebration Powamu. Men performed as Kachinas, although the Kachinas were both male and female. Each man made his own mask, which was repainted and decorated each time it was used to represent a different Kachina. Upon donning the mask, the man became the Kachina.

Clans "owned" the ceremonies and provided the leadership and ritual equipment for their performance. The ceremonies, however, were performed by societies, which cut across the clan-phratry lines, although they may have had the same names as clans. The kivas were associated with particular clans, and the clans had the responsibility for their upkeep. The clan, society, and kiva relationships are far from clear, and Eggan emphasizes that while "clan, kiva, and society frequently have the same name, they must be clearly distinguished in terms of both membership and activities if the operation of Hopi society is to be understood" (Eggan 1950: 105).

For Hopi men, the most important societies were those into which they were initiated during adolescence. These societies were Wuwutcim, Tao, Ahl, and Kwan. According to Eggan, it was these four societies that were most closely associated with the kivas, and it was the kiva to which a man owed his primary allegiance, regardless of his clan affiliation. There was also a number of men's and women's societies such as the Flute, Antelope, and Snake societies, which were associated with rain, war, and curing, and which performed some of the minor ceremonies.

The first White contact with the Hopi was made in 1540 by Spanish explorers. Spanish missions were established in 1629, but were never successful. In 1680, the Hopi, along with all of the other pueblo cultures of the southwest, revolted against the missionaries and killed all the Spaniards. The reservation was established in 1882. According to Titiev, (1972) much of the traditional culture had been preserved up to his first visit in 1932. By 1966, however, much had changed. Not a single major ceremony had been performed since the early 1950s. Titiev claims that the most significant factor in these changes was the building of a paved road.

The basic source on the Hopi is Titiev (1971). This is a detailed ethnography, based on fieldwork done between 1932 and 1940. Eggan (1950) is a comparative study of the social organization of the western Pueblos in general.

Culture summary by Marlene M. Martin

"Pueblo (people)," Microsoft¨ Encarta¨ Online Encyclopedia 2005
http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved
Eggan, Frederick Russell.
Social organization of the Western Pueblos.
Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1950.
17, 373 p. illus., map, tables Fewkes, Jessie Walter.
In Frederick Webb Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 30, New York, Pageant Books, 1959: 560-568.
Forde, C. Daryll.
The Hopi and Yuma: flood farmers in the North American Desert.
In his Habitat, Economy and Society, a Geographical Introduction to Ethnology.
London, Methuen, 1934: 220-259.
Lowie, Robert H. The Hopi.
In his An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology.
New York, Rinehard, 1940: 452-467.
Murdock, George Peter.
The Hopi of Arizona.
In his Our Primitive Contemporaries.
New York, the Macmillan Company, 1934: 324-358.
Titiev, Mischa.
Old Oraibi: a study of the Hopi Indians of Third Mesa.
New York, Kraus Reprint, 1971.
11, 277 p. illus., tables.
Reprint of 1944 edition.
Titiev, Mischa.
The Hopi Indians of Old Oraibi: change and continuity.

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