Hopi Traditions and Artistic Expressions

By: Arizona Office of Tourism

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July 2, 2014

Learn about the art, food and culture of the Hopi people living in Northern Arizona.

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Arizona Office of Tourism

These articles are brought to you by staff of the Arizona Office of Tourism, as well as local tourism organizations around the state.

Visiting Hopi is a unique experience. The Hopi people have lived in the mesa country of Arizona’s high desert for more than a thousand years, and the current lifestyles and beliefs preserve the unique heritage of Hopi culture. 

Central to Hopi life is “dry farming,” a technique traditionally done by hand, in which Hopi men plant, nurture and harvest crops, while the women and young girls learn the techniques for storing and preserving the harvest after it is brought home to the village. 

Corn is central to Hopi life, both for sustenance and for a variety of ceremonial uses. The four colors of Hopi corn – yellow, red, blue and white – are four colors that have cultural significance and are found in Hopi art.

Discover Inspiration in Artistic Traditions

Hopi art has evolved over thousands of years, and Hopi artists are among the most accomplished in the world. There are four primary art forms: pottery, carving, basketry/weaving and silversmithing/jewelry. By a tradition that continues today, Hopi artists usually learn from family mentors. Artists from all villages across the Hopi mesas carve Katsina dolls, but the other art forms are the specialty of particular villages on First, Second or Third Mesas.

Follow the Hopi Arts Trail

The Hopi Arts Trail provides an opportunity to connect directly with Hopi artists. The Arts Trail is not a literal trail to hike, but rather a way for visitors to connect with the local artists and galleries on the Hopi mesas in Northern Arizona. The Arts Trail is an invitation to the world to visit the mesas in a respectful manner – to connect with some of the tribe’s very finest artists in their galleries and home workshops.

Visitors are welcome to drive across the Hopi reservation using the Arts Trail Map as a guide, but the very best way to tour Hopi for the first time is with a tour guide. 

Guides who are certified by the Hopi Tribe take guests for tours of the mesas and villages, allowing the opportunity to see the unique Hopi landscape, enter villages, meet artists and enjoy a meal in a Hopi home. These guides are exceptionally knowledgeable about the traditions and culture of the Hopi. They know the Katsina doll carvers, basket makers, silversmiths and other artists and can introduce visitors to the artists and explain the significance of the art. Guides can be contacted at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites or online at www.ExperienceHopi.com

Relax at Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites

There is no better way to experience Hopi than to begin at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites, which is situated at the western gateway to Hopi in the village of Upper Moenkopi, adjacent to the Navajo community of Tuba City. The Upper Village of Moenkopi is one of 12 Hopi villages and is part of the Third Mesa region of Hopi. 

The Legacy Inn has 100 guest rooms, including 14 with their own distinctive Hopi character. The four colors of Hopi are seen in the beautiful hotel lobby and throughout the hotel and conference center, and the fireplace has a multitude of petroglyphs to give guests an idea of what Hopi ancient sites look like. 

At the Legacy Inn, guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, an outdoor pool and spa, and an exercise room. Hopi art is on display for sale in the hotel lobby and gift store. 

Visitors to the Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites can view a unique photo exhibit that depicts Hopi life and agricultural practices from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. These images provide a historic glimpse into the life of the Hopi people and how some of these practices are still carried on presently. The exhibit is dedicated to the Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) and is on permanent display in the conference center.

Across the street from Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites is Tuuvi Travel Center, which offers all of the conveniences that on-the-go travelers require, plus authentic American Indian arts. The Tuuvi Café has a full-service menu of traditional American and Hopi food and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Experience this Unique Community

When you visit Hopi villages and meet artists in their home workshops, you’ll get to know some of the friendliest people in the world – the Hopi people. 

Hopi is a welcoming place, and it is a place where a traditional culture is preserved like no other location in America. When you visit Hopi, you enter living villages with very close proximity to families’ personal lives. 

Please respect Hopi traditions by following these guidelines. Photography in the villages is not allowed; however, many artists are open to photos. Please ask prior to snapping a photo. Highway 264 is the east/west corridor that connects the mesas. Travel off Highway 264 into areas other than the villages is allowed only with a certified Hopi guide.

(Brought to you by Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites, (928) 283-4500, www.ExperienceHopi.com)

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