1. Historical information about the culture
The Hopi Native American tribe is one that is rich with a unique cultural history and tradition. Tribal records indicate that the Hopi people are descendants of ancient Pueblo-dwelling groups who migrated from Central America into modern-day Northeastern Arizona around 500 B.C. Initially, the Hopi lived in small collectives, consisting of mud homes and relying primarily on hunting and gathering livelihoods. However, as technologies and knowledge developed over the next several hundred years, the Hopi people began congregating into larger villages and settlements centered around agriculture and farming methods. Around 700 A.D., new villages began forming atop many of the regions mesas, covered with their distinct stone pueblo houses. By establishing villages atop these tall, flat mesas, both farming the land and defending it was made significantly easier. In these new larger settlements, the Hopi flourished. Primarily growing yellow and blue corn, along with squash, beans and pumpkins, the Hopi tribe developed a stable society and new livelihood based on farming. Within these pueblo villages, they also developed distinct cultural values. The Hopi religion centers around peace and respect towards all things, which they try to apply to every aspect of their lives. This deeply engrained sentiment of respect in their society thus explains the literal translation of the word Hopi, “The Peaceful People”. Hopi religion also celebrates a cycle of festivals and traditions based upon the phases of the moon. These ceremonies have since been influenced by European-Christianization, however even today they are very distinct and unique to Hopi values.
This reputation did not mean that the Hopi continued their existence without conflict, however. Around the 16th and 17th centuries, in the European “Age of Exploration”, encounters with Spanish conquistadors threatened the peaceful, agricultural livelihoods and values of the Hopi people. After a few mutually-beneficial decades of trade and contact with the Spanish, relations grew tense when they began their Christianization attempts towards the tribe. These attempts were initially blocked by a collective of the Hopi people and other neighboring tribes in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, however, they eventually ended up unsuccessful in their attempt at completely protecting their lands.
Over the next few centuries, control of Hopi land changed hands several times, before eventually settling into the those of the United States. When this occurred, the neighboring Navajo tribe also faced similar colonial encroachment upon their land. Retreating westward, they began settling on Hopi land. Once again, the Hopi were left with no other choice but to defend their livelihood and lands once more. Eventually, when the United States established a system of Native American reservations in the mid-eighteenth century, the tribe was granted their own pocket of land in Black Mesa, Arizona, consisting of less than ten percent of their original land. However, despite this unjust reduction, the peaceful Hopi continued to value their ideas of respect and peace towards all things.
Today, this group has adapted into the wider American society, while still maintaining many of their same livelihoods and religious values. Many Hopi people still create crafts and other goods based on those crafted by their ancestors, and even more continue to practice the ceremonies and traditions of the Hopi Way. Most importantly, the Hopi people still strongly value goodwill and peace towards others. This adherence to tradition and resilience of their value is one of the main reasons that, despite oppression and colonization, the Hopi people are still alive and flourishing even today.
2. Colonial experience of the culture
The first Hopi-European contact was in the early 1500s when Spanish General Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his soldiers came to America looking for the legendary seven cities of gold. From around 1540-1680, the Hopi had multiple visits from Spaniards, including missionaries and catholic friars. Beginning in 1629, Spanish Catholics began to build churches in Hopi territory and pushed conversion, despite heavy resistance by most Hopi people.
3. Contemporary developments or issues
From their government website in a recent their 2014 annual report, the Hopi enforcement services reported a large increase in service calls on their lands. Hope Chief Ranger, Ronald Honyumptewa, stated,
“Calls for police service increased to 6339 in 2014 compared to 2,270 in 2013. Crime reports increased by +173% in 2014 and major crimes increased +5%. The major crime categories, as identified by the FBI Uniform Crime Report Part 1 Crimes, are murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, auto theft, and arson. In 2014, we had 71 major crimes reported compared to 47 in 2013. Of these 71 major crimes, we cleared 57 of them by arrest or the perpetrator was identified but not arrested. Not arresting the perpetrator could mean that a warrant was issued but not yet served; the victim doesn’t want to proceed with prosecution, the perpetrator was charged with other crimes, or the perpetrator is in jail elsewhere and not available to us yet for prosecution, or the case was unfounded. Traffic and injury crashes decreased -5% in 2014. We had 3 traffic fatalities in 2014. Traffic citations for the year increased by +225% with 894 citations issued in 2014 compared to 273 in 2013. Some of this increase can be attributed to officers writing more written warnings citations than the previous year (273 in 2013). Written warnings in place of traffic citations are a very good traffic enforcement and public relation tool utilized by officers to maintain an effective traffic enforcement program in our community."
The report displays further the types of service calls, many of which were an increase from 2013. Alcohol offenses rose from 191 to 417, traffic enforcement (citations, assistance) rose from 273 to 894, livestock offenses (citations, impoundments, trespass, inspections) rose from 884 to 2898 and arrests rose from 140 to 507. The overall calls to service increases from 2320 to 6339 from 2013 to 2014 as well. It is unclear from the data if more crime occurred than before, or if there was an up in policing or stricter surveillance tactics.
A press release from the Hopi National Resources, describes the Hopi lands as something sacred and in need of protection – something the tribe has been struggling to uphold in recent years. It is written, “The Hopi Reservation and other areas of the Southwest are under severe drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor Map. Monthly monitoring of Hopi lnads shows severe deteriorations of Hopi Lands due to over-grazing in specific range units over the past five years.”
The press release ends with, “The Hopi call upon the Navajo Nation and its citizens to honor their agreements and join with the Hopi Tribe to protect our sacred lands by the continued and ongoing enforcement of the reasonable grazing regulations. It is in the best interest of all livestock owners that we work together to preserve the natural resources for the benefit of all.”
This segues into a contemporary issue faced by both the Hopi and the Navajo; the issue of sharing land between both tribes – an idea that has failed miserably over the past several decades and has cost the government roughly $500 million dollars. Over the past couple centuries, all Native Americans have been forced to relocate to reservations. The Hopi and Navajo were told to play nice and share land. This worked at first, as the Hopi vastly outnumbered the Navajo, but over time the Navajo population increased, bringing with it tension between the two groups. Because some tribal members live within the jurisdiction of the other with different rules and regulations, tensions often run high. Relocating people to their respective reservations has cost the government millions in housing projects. Living situations for some families in the process of waiting to relocate has been considered dire.