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Hopi

Hopi (hōˈpē) [key], group of the Pueblo, formerly called Moki, or Moqui. They speak the Hopi language, which belongs to the Uto-Aztecan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock, at all their pueblos except Hano, where the language belongs to the Tanoan branch of the Aztec-Tanoan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They occupy several mesa villages in NE Arizona and in 1990 numbered close to 12,000.

In 1540, they were visited by some of Francisco Coronado's men under Pedro de Tovar, but because of their geographical isolation they remained more independent of European influence than other Pueblo groups. The Spanish began to establish missions in 1629 at the Hopi pueblos of Awatobi, Oraibi, and Shongopovi. These missions were destroyed in the revolt of 1680 (see Popé), and when the residents of Awatobi invited the missionaries to return, the other Hopi destroyed their village. After the revolt, pueblos in the foothills were abandoned and new villages were built on the mesas for defense against possible attack by the Spanish. The pueblo of Hano was built by the Tewa, who had fled from the area of the Rio Grande valley that the Spanish reconquered.

During the 18th and 19th cent., the Hopi were subjected to frequent raids by the neighboring Navajo. The region was pacified by the U.S. army in the late 19th cent., and a Hopi reservation was established in 1882, but the ambiguous status of much of the reservation enabled Navajo populations to encroach on traditional Hopi lands. By the 1960s and 70s, Navajo expansion on lands set aside for joint use provoked court action and led to a partition of the disputed land. Amid bitter conflict, over 10,000 Navajo and fewer than 100 Hopi were relocated from the partitioned lands. A court decision in 1992 assigned most of the land still in dispute to the Navajo. Some Navajo were permitted to remain on Hopi land under 75-year leases.

The Hopi are sedentary farmers, mainly dependent on corn, beans, and squash; they also raise wheat, cotton, and tobacco, and herd sheep. Each village is divided into clans and is governed by a chief, who is also the spiritual leader. Political and religious duties revolve around the clans. The Badger clan, for instance, still conducts the kachina (fertility) ceremony, and the Antelope and Snake clans perform the well-known snake dance at Walpi and other pueblos. A Hopi tribal council and constitution were established in 1936, but internal dissension has limited tribal unity.

See J. Kammer, The Second Long Walk (1980); S. Rushforth and S. Upham, A Hopi Social History (1992).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: North American indigenous peoples

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