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After occupying almost all of northern Arizona, from California to parts of Southern Nevada, the Hopis are now living on the Hopi reservation in Black Mesa, Arizona near the Painted Desert. They continue to battle the U.S. government as well as the Navajo tribe for the return of their native lands.
Hopi (ho-pee) is a Shoshonean language, which is part of the Uto-Aztecan languages.
The Hopi are best known for their skill in agriculture. They are known to have used terracing, several methods of irrigation, and have grown corn, cotton, beans, squash, and tobacco all in the middle of the Arizona desert.
Today, the Hopi continue their struggle to maintain their own unique way of life. The Hopi people are trying to teach their children to maintain their traditional way of life as well getting an education.
Traditional Hopi society was matrilineal, which meant that the mother determined field inheritance and social status. Women owned the field, but only the men of their clan worked in them. Each clan was also in charge of certain religious ceremonies throughout the year. A society within each clan would perform the ceremonies, with societies of women taking charge of certain ceremonies as well.
The Hopis enjoyed this peaceful way of life, until around 1540, when a group of Spanish explorers led by Coronado first came to this region. Spanish missionaries tried to convert the natives, while the soldiers and explorers looked for any way to exploit them. During this time, the neighboring Navajo began to come under pressure from the Spanish as well, and they began attacking the Spanish as well as the Hopi and other neighboring tribes. The Hopi people were forced to fight for their survival. This long period of fighting lasted until 1824 when Spain recognized Mexico and the Hopi lands were given to the new Mexican government. In 1870, the U.S. government laid claim to the lands of the Hopi, and they were forced to fight, until finally being forced onto the reservation in Black Mesa, where they live today.
Clemmer, Richard O., Roads in the Sky., Boulder, Westview Press., 1995.
James, Harry C., Pages from Hopi History., Tucson, The University of Arizona Press., 1979.
Levy, Jerrold E., Orayvi Revisited., Santa Fe, School of American Research Press., 1992.