The Hopi Indian Lands lie in northeastern Arizona. It is in both Coconino and Navajo Counties and can be reached from Historic Route 66 or Interstate 40 through Holbrook, Winslow or Flagstaff. The land consists of three major mesas, which rise up from the desert floor nearly 7,200 feet. Currently, the tribe has 9,150 members.
The Hopi are direct descendants of the Anasazi, who lived in the area around Flagstaff and Canyon de Chelly. The name Hopi comes from “Hopituh Shi-nu-mu”, meaning “the peaceful people. The Hopi tribe is also a part of the larger Indian group called the Pueblo people. The Pueblo stayed in one particular area and built small flat roofed structures to live in. Legend says that the Hopi decided on this spot because Arizona is the center of the planet.
The Hopi tribe built old Oraibi in 1150 A.D. It is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States. The Hopi Indians built their homes on top of the mesas to protect themselves from attacking Navajo and Apache Indians.
Hopis have endured tragedy throughout their history. During the mid-1600’s, the population was nearly 14,000. A smallpox epidemic brought in by white settlers attacked the community. The epidemic killed about 75% of the tribe. Fortunately, their numbers rebounded, but in 1780 another smallpox epidemic broke out. This time, the epidemic left behind only 1,000 survivors. The third time smallpox hit the Hopi Indian Land was around 1850. Again, the population was reduced by 75%.
The Hopi Indian Lands cover 1,561,213 acres and were established in December 1882. These lands are unique in that they are completely surrounded by the Navajo Indian Lands.
Today, Keams Canyon is the site of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Headquarters. Peace and goodwill have always been the ways to live by in the Hopi community. Most of the Hopis live in the twelve villages on the Indian Land. These villages are found on First Mesa, Second Mesa, and Third Mesa. All three of these mesas are a part of Black Mesa. Many of the homes on these mesas are nearly a hundred years old and were built of stone and logs. Each village is organized independently and is known for their certain Indian Arts and unique ceremonies.
The tribe is known for their handicrafts such as kachinas, overlay jewelry, basketry, and pottery.
The Hopi are religious people, who practice their religion with ceremonies throughout the year. There are portions of the ceremonial dances that take part underground in a kiva. Only the initiated are permitted into the kiva. Each clan has its own dances. These clan dances are a secret. Not all of the villages will allow visitors to their dance ceremonies. Ten of the twelve villages have closed their Kachina dances to the public. Snake dances and Flute ceremonies remain closed, although many of the social dances are open. The Hopi’s will publicize the ceremonial dances that are available to the public. Please remember that photography is prohibited throughout the Indian Land, especially inside villages. Once you have stepped onto Hopi Indian Land, you have become a guest. Guests must be respectful of the land, people and their customs.
There are numerous galleries, trading posts, and centers located across the Hopi Indian Land. These places provide visitors an opportunity to look at and purchase Hopi handiwork.