The Hopi people are descendants of the Hisatsinom, ancient people in the Hopi language, who occupied Colorado Plateau and many other regions, including what is now southern Arizona, Mexico, Utah, and beyond. Hopi traditional histories and archaeologists agree that a distinct ancestral Hopi population has occupied the Colorado Plateau for millennia, and was joined by migrating families from many other regions. The Hopi village of Orayvi is thought to be the oldest, continuously inhabited settlement in the United States, dating back more than a millennium. The Hopi have survived in their mesa homeland for centuries and although their culture is changing, their core values remain intact and central to their culture.
The Hopi language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan language family. Three distinct dialects correspond to First Mesa, Second Mesa, and Third Mesa communities.
Today the Hopi people live in a set of twelve villages in the mesa country of northern Arizona. The 2010 census lists 18,327 Hopi people in the United States, about half of whom live on the Hopi Reservation. Traditionally, each village was a separate entity. The Hopi people are governed by and elected tribal council.
The Hopi today, like their ancestors, are farmers. Traditional staples include corn, beans, and squash. The Hopi people have developed innovative farming methods and have been called “the world’s greatest dry farmers” because they rely on rainfall and runoff, not irrigation, to water their crops.
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The Hopi Iconography Project is a collaborative effort of the Museum of Northern Arizona and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office (HCPO) to explore and interpret Hopi cultural continuity through art, archaeology, linguistics, and oral traditions. MNA’s Anthropology Department and the HCPO are working together to study the expression of Hopi values and lifeways in pottery, mural painting, basketry, petroglyphs, and other media, past and present.