The Peaceful People


Hopi girl, 1922, photo by Edward S. Curtis

 
 

The name Hopi is a shortened form of their autonym, Hopituh Shi-nu-mu (“The Peaceful People” or “Peaceful Little Ones”).The Hopi Dictionary gives the primary meaning of the word “Hopi” as: “behaving one, one who is mannered, civilized, peaceable, polite, who adheres to the Hopi way.” In the past, Hopi sometimes used the term “Hopi” and its cognates to refer to the Pueblo peoples in general, in contrast to other, more warlike tribes.

 
 

Four young Hopi Indian women grinding grain, c. 1906, photo by Edward S. Curtis

 
 

Children with chopper bicycle, Hopi Reservation (Arizona), 1970

 
 

Hopi is a concept deeply rooted in the culture’s religion, spirituality, and its view of morality and ethics. To be Hopi is to strive toward this concept, which involves a state of total reverence and respect for all things, to be at peace with these things, and to live in accordance with the instructions of Maasaw, the Creator or Caretaker of Earth. The Hopi observe their traditional ceremonies for the benefit of the entire world.

 
 

Hopi girl at Walpi, c. 1900, with “squash blossom” hairdo indicative of her eligibility for courtship

 
 

Hopi woman dressing hair of unmarried girl, c. 1900, photo by Henry Peabody

 
 

Traditionally, Hopi are organized into matrilineal clans. When a man marries, the children from the relationship are members of his wife’s clan. These clan organizations extend across all villages. Children are named by the women of the father’s clan. On the twentieth day of a baby’s life, the women of the paternal clan gather, each woman bringing a name and a gift for the child. In some cases where many relatives would attend, a child could be given over forty names, for example. The child’s parents generally decide the name to be used from these names. Current practice is to either use a non-Hopi or English name or the parent’s chosen Hopi name.

The Hopi are one of many Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. When first encountered by the Spanish in the 16th century, these cultures were referred to as Pueblo people because they lived in villages (pueblos in the Spanish language). The Hopi are descended from the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (Hopi: Hisatsinom or Navajo: Anasazi) who constructed large apartment-house complexes in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.

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