The oldest villages on the North American Continent, the Hopi and Acoma Pueblos, are living, vibrant communities where the first people of the Americas met later migrating cultures from foreign lands. Migration is a time proven human activity in the Americas.
Hopi and Acoma have a unique, shared history as being the “Oldest, Continuously Occupied Village in the United States” in the U.S. Register of Historic Places, documenting living cultures prior to Spanish and European contact.
The Hopi and Acoma people have always had a strong relationship and ties going back to 1680 when they stood “shoulder to shoulder” to evict the Spanish dictator from their lands. The relationship was again solidified in their struggle to object to the continuing auction sales of their cultural patrimony in Europe.
The Hopi mother village of Orayvi is dated as “Prehistoric 1150 – 1900” but new archaeological findings pushes the dates further back. Recent carbon dating of Hopi drought tolerant corn has been dated to AD 900 from a site on the Hopi lands.
“Prior to 900 A.D., and during the 10th century, various cultural areas became evident and began to diverge from the general cultural traditions with the use of D-shaped, rather than circular, pit houses. By the 12th century, D-shaped kivas were evident in the area, and by the 13th century, influences from the south and southeast caused the inhabitants of the area to adopt the rectangular kiva, black-on-orange pottery as a replacement for black-on-white wares, and the 3/4-grooved axe. These new traits became characteristic of later stages of Hopi development. The general trend of settlement during the 12th and 13th centuries involved a decrease in the number of pueblos accompanied by an increase in their size. Judging from the pottery and an unpublished tree-ring date of 1290 A.D., Oraibi was probably founded sometime during this period and is thought to have been the only occupied town on the Third Mesa in 1300 A.D. Only excavation could clarify these early periods in the development of Oraibi.” U.S Register of Historic Places.
The descriptions in the Register do not capture the important history and continuing importance of this living village in our lives today. Orayvi village is the home place of the Hopi leadership clan, the Hon ngyam (Bear Clan), the first people who treated with and welcomed migrating foreigners who could demonstrate a positive skill or knowledge to benefit Hopi society for over 18 centuries.
Today, Orayvi is a private, occupied village, it’s residents living quiet, unassuming activities in tune to the sun and moon cycles. It comes alive when the Katsina spirits visit and all the surrounding village residents come to visit their clan relatives. Orayvi is a mystery as over the centuries, layer upon layer of human history is underfoot, never to be disturbed, as the Hopi believe it should remain.
The Hopi people have an ambivalent attitude towards non-Indian visitors. The uncomfortable feelings generate from past disrespect by missionaries, US government agents, archaeologists/anthropologists and visitors alike. Not everyone is disrespectful but how you visit an old, old place is important. Hopi cannot keep the visitor or tourist away and the cultural intrusion is balanced with the need for tourism dollars by the Hopi families.
If you have intentions to set your feet on this holy ground of the first inhabitants of the Americas, you should prepare yourself with respect, mindfulness and honoring of the Hopi and Acoma. We are still here.
It is recommended to employ a Hopi Tour Guide to enjoy an educational visit to Hopiland. See HopiArtsTrail.com, EvelynFredericks.com located at White Bear Hopi Arts on Third Mesa and Left Handed Hunter Tour Company located on Second Mesa, who are certified, local Hopi Tour Guides.
MFredericks, Webmaster, 2018