Hopi HistoryHopi North American Indian tribe of the Pueblo group, of the Shoshonean division of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Also called Moqui, they live in a small group of autonomous villages, lying on three high mesas on north-central Arizona. These villages, or pueblos, in which the Hopi culture was retained long into the period of Spanish and American dominance, have been intensively studied by anthropologists.
The Hopi tribe is the only branch of the Shoshonean linguistic stock that adjusted successfully to life in the pueblos. In traditions, social organization, and customs the Hopi are almost identical with the other Pueblo Native Americans, and modern times their culture is far better preserved than is that along the Rio Grande.
The Hopi are industrious farmers; they harvest and store large crops of corn, beans, pumpkins, and some fruits. They also weave baskets and blankets and are skillful potters and carvers. Hopi houses, built by the women, are of stone roughly cut and laid and finished in plaster. The ceilings are supported by beams and cross poles and consist of a compressed mixture of brush and clay. The floors are sometimes flagged, and the interior walls are generally whitewashed with gypsum and sometimes ornamented in simple geometric bands. In early Hopi houses the doorways, which were the only sources of light, were sometimes built in T-shapes. Windows covered with selenite were introduced by the Spanish, and modern houses generally have glass windows and hinged doors.
Hopi Family Structure
The tribe is grouped into exogamous clans; that is, the kinship relationship within each clan is so strong that intermarriage between clan members is forbidden. The clans themselves are usually coupled in pairs, and these links are sometimes strong enough to justify larger exogamous groupings. Marriage is monogamous, and the lines of decent are matrilineal.
Hopi Native American Religion
The Hopi religion, like that of all other Pueblo Native Americans, includes the worship of the forces of nature, and has many ceremonies intended to invoke or influence supernatural powers. Ancestor worship plays an important role in Hopi ceremonies, and some Christian influences can be detected paticularly in the dating of the ceremonies and the observance of saint's day. Private rites are held in underground ceremonial chambers called kivas, and public services and dances are commonly performed out of doors. The most important Hopi religious ceremonies are the kachina mysteries. The midsummer and midwinter rituals of sun and fire worship; and the celebrated snake dances. During the snake dances, which are actually rain dances, live rattlesnakes, symbolizing the sky god, are held in the mouths of the dancers. These dances, are witnessed by thousands of visitors every summer, are among the most spectacular of American Indian ceremonies.