History, Department of


Date of this Version

September 2008


Published in Hopi Nation: Essays on Indigenous Art, Culture, History, and Law, edited by Edna Glenn, John R. Wunder, Willard Hughes Rollings, and C. L. Martin (Lincoln, NE: UNL Digital Commons, 2008). Copyright © 2008 the Estate of Edna Glenn, Willard Hughes Rollings, Abbott Sekaquaptewa, Barton Wright, Michael Kabotie, Terrance Talaswaima, Alice Schlegel, Robert H. Ames, Peter Iverson, and John R. Wunder. All images and artwork are copyright by the individual artists; for a listing see pages 9-14.


“It is a time to recall and to revitalize the good things of Hopi life and to celebrate Hopism.”

The Hopi people have retained their cultural life to perhaps a greater degree than most Indian peoples in the United States today. Customary practices which govern the pattern of life from birth to death for most Hopi are still carried out to a large extent.

The Hopi mesas are located in northeastern Arizona in the plateau country where the Hopi clans began gathering a millennium ago. The clans were not strangers to the land at that time, for many had passed through this country during the migration period after the arrival from the other world. This was a predestined place, a chosen place, where they were to come together and settle while awaiting the return of the white brother. Presently there are approximately 9,000 Hopi living on the reservation established in 1882. The original tract of land set aside for the use and occupancy of the Hopis comprised 2,500,000 acres. Due to encroachment by other Indians and the failure of the federal government to protect the land rights of the tribe, it has been reduced today to 1,500,000 acres, two-thirds of which is still occupied by members of the Navajo tribe. This seems like a large tract of land, and is perhaps comparable to the King Ranch in Texas. When the nature of the land is considered, however, it also appears very harsh and a difficult place for anyone to make a living. This is the land of the Hopi where the people came, knowing that it was a chosen place where Hopi society was once more to bloom.

The people, our Hopi people, have something to contribute to today’s society. And that contribution is our knowledge and the good things of our way, the Hopi way, to this world. That is the significance of the Hopi Tricentennial, year and era. As the elders say, we are all their children and our wellbeing is the single most important instruction that they have been given by the giver of the breath of life. The people did not come into existence on this land. The Hopi came from another place, from another world. We are the first people and we came here because life was not good anymore in that other world. Because of this awareness of the beginning of life on this continent, the people feel a responsibility to life and to the subsequent accountability to life. Also known was that evil had come with the people. This world would become corrupt, and it would reach the state once more that it had in that other world. Since the Hopi elders possess the priesthood authority and similar authority over mother earth, they became the stewards, and we were taught that they would find our way for us if we were to be faithful. Fortunately, many Hopi people are faithful, and it is for this reason that the significance of the Tricentennial is not only the gaining once again of our independence in 1680 to be free as children of our earth mother, but rather to celebrate the fact that the Hopi are able today to contribute to society as a whole. That is the commemoration that we have established for ourselves as the Tricentennial, the Hopi Year. Working together and living together, this fullness can be achieved which has been taught to the people for generations and generations, and hopefully will be passed on to the children for many generations to come.