The Hopi Indians and their ancestors are Native Americans who have lived in Northwestern Arizona for thousands of years. Information suggests that the name ‘Hopi’ is translated to mean ‘peaceful person.’
These Southwest American Indians inhabit an area called the Black Mesa, a plateau which rises 1,000 feet above the surrounding grasslands, and they refer to this place as the Center of the Universe. The area is also divided into three levels: First Mesa, Second Mesa and Third Mesa.
Located in Northern Arizona, the Hopi Reservation encompasses approximately 1.5 million acres. Hopi land rises up 7,200 feet, offering panoramic views of the surrounding low-altitude desert. You’ll find amazing history, culture, art, and food when you visit here.
Oraibi, the westernmost Hopi Pueblo, is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the United States. It has been continuously inhabited for the past 1,100 years. This multi-level living complex was built by stacking rooms (without ground-level openings) several stories high around a central courtyard.
In order to fully appreciate the Hopi culture and lands, it is important to tour all three mesas with a knowledgeable guide. Many areas are off-limits to non-tribal members without a guide.
Polacca With an increasing population, some Hopi have built houses in settlements below the mesas, as at Polacca (po-LAH-kah). Still, if you ask residents of Polacca where they’re from, they’ll likely name one of the three villages on the mesa above.
Polacca stretches for about a mile along the highway, but offers little of interest. Thrilling views, however, lie atop First Mesa, reached by a paved road that climbs steeply for 1.3 miles to Sichomovi on the crest. If you have a trailer or large vehicle, you must park it in Polacca or at parking areas 0.6 mile and one mile up.
Hano (Hanoki) The first village you reach looks Hopi but is really a settlement of the Tewa, a Pueblo tribe from the Rio Grande region to the east. Fleeing from the Spanish after an unsuccessful revolt in 1696, a number of Tewa sought refuge here.
Hopi leaders agreed, on the condition that the Tewa act as guardians of the access path to the mesa. Despite living close to the Hopi for so long, the Tewa have retained their own language and ceremonies. Hano’s fascinating history is detailed in Edward P. Dozier’s A Tewa Indian Community in Arizona, available in libraries.
Sichomovi (Sitsomovi) To the visitor, Hano and the Hopi village of Sichomovi (see-CHO-mo-vee) appear as one, but residents know exactly where the dividing line is. Both Tewa and Hopi live here.
Walpi (Waalpi) One of the most inspiring places in Arizona, Walpi (WAHL-pee) stands surrounded by sky and distant horizons. Ancient houses of yellow stone appear to grow from the mesa itself. A highlight for many visitors, Walpi dates from the 13th century and is renowned for its ceremonial dances and crafts. Because this traditional village is small and its occupants sensitive, visitors may enter only with an authorized Hopi guide.
Walking from Sichomovi, you’ll watch the mesa narrow to just 15 feet before widening again at Walpi.
Unlike most other Hopi villages, Walpi lacks electricity and running water. Residents have to walk back toward Sichomovi to get water or to wash. Look for bowl-shaped depressions once used to collect rainwater. Precipitous foot trails and ruins of old defenses and buildings cling to the mesa slopes far below.</p
Signs outside houses in Walpi and the other First Mesa villages let you know where to shop. Usually men carve the kachina dolls and women fashion the pottery. Although most kachina dances at First Mesa remain closed to the public, you may be able to attend social dances.
First Mesa Consolidated Villages
Address: Polacca, AZ 86042
Phone: (928) 737-2670
Tours: Monday through Friday from 8am to 4pm.
Tour Admission: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for children ages 10 to 17.
Located on the Hopi Reservation, First Mesa consolidates three age-old Hopi and Arizona Tewa villages: Hano, Sichomovi, and Walpi. The settlements are high atop a mesa with sweeping views of sky, rock, and horizon.
The raw beauty of First Mesa is amplified by the living traditions of the small communities who live as their ancestors did.
A guided walking tour, arranged by the First Mesa Consolidated Village Office, is an unforgettable experience. As you stroll the roads, you will witness life just as it’s been over centuries, while learning about its complex history. You’ll also hear about contemporary Hopi life, economic development, and cultural preservation.
The artisans of First Mesa are known for producing objects of great beauty, including finely detailed polychrome pottery and carved katsina dolls.
Many artists will invite you into their home workshops to admire and purchase these handcrafted items, keepsakes to treasure for a lifetime. Accepting these invitations is also a good way to see the interior of these Hopi homes, which are otherwise off-limits to outsiders.
Second Mesa (Junction) Highways AZ 264 and AZ 87 meet at the foot of Second Mesa, seven miles west of Polacca and 60 miles north of Winslow.
LKD’s Diner (928)737-2717, Mon.–Sat. for lunch and dinner) serves Hopi tacos and tostadas, Mexican food, and burgers.
Hopi Fine Arts-Alph Secakuku gallery sells arts and crafts. You’ll also find a post office and supermarket here.
Honani Crafts Gallery is 0.5 mile west at the turnoff for Shipaulovi and Mishongnovi villages.
Shipaulovi (Supawlavi) and Mishongnovi (Musangnuvi) These villages are close neighbors on an eastern projection of Second Mesa. Dances often take place.
You reach Shipaulovi (shih-PAW-lo-vee) and Mishongnovi (mih-SHONG-no-vee) by a short paved road that climbs steeply from AZ 264, a half mile west of the intersection with AZ 87, or by a mesa-top road (also paved, but not to be confused with the Pinon-Hard Rock Road) 0.3 mile east of the Cultural Center.
Mishongnovi is east of Shipaulovi, at the end of the mesa.
Shungopavi (Songoopavi) Shungopavi (shong-O-po-vee or shih-MO-pah-vee) is the largest (pop. 742) of the three Second Mesa villages. A sign near the village entrance states that dances are closed to non-Indians, though that’s not always the case—you can ask in the village.
Dawa’s Art and Crafts on the road into the village sells locally made work. More galleries lie between the village turnoff and the Cultural Center. Shungopavi is 0.8 mile south off AZ 264, midway between the junction with AZ 87 and the Hopi Cultural Center.
Joseph and Janice Day at Tsakurshovi (928)734-2478) provide a treasure trove of information about visiting and shopping in the Hopi lands; you’ll also find an excellent array of kachinas, basketry, music, and other art in their little shop on the north side of the highway, 0.4 west of the Shungopavi turnoff and 1.5 miles east of the Hopi Cultural Center.
A bit farther west on the highway, Hopi Silver Arts and Crafts and Iskasopu Gallery offer good selections.
Hopi Cultural Center Museum
Address:AZ-264, Second Mesa, AZ 86043
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 3pm (closed weekends in the winter).
Admission: $3 for adults and $1 for children 13 and under.
The Hopi Cultural Center is located on the Second Mesa. The Hopi Tribal Offices are located in Kykotsmovi, just below Third Mesa (Approximately 92 miles from Flagstaff). Upper and Lower Moenkopi Villages are located about 54 miles west of Kykotsmovi on Hwy 64.
To the Hopi Cultural Center from Flagstaff: Take Highway 89 North to Townsend-Winona Road. Turn right and proceed about 10 miles to Leupp road Coconino County Road 505; turn left and continue north another 31 miles to the Kykotsmovi turn off (just past the Little Colorado River Bridge). Turn right onto Route 2; continue north 48 miles to Kykotsmovi until you get ot the Junction of Route 2 and Highway 264 in Kykotsmovi. Then turn right onto HWY 264 and drive 6 miles to reach the Hopi Cultural Center located on the left had side, on top of Second Mesa (Approximately 100 miles from Flagstaff).
From Tuba City: Take Highway 264 East approximately 45 miles to Hotevilla on Third Mesa, and continue onto Second Mesa approximately 11 more miles.
From Winslow: Take Highway 87 North approximately 60 miles to Second Mesa Junction then turn left onto HWY 264 and continue up the mesa another 2 miles and the Hopi Cultural Center will be on the right.
From Holbrook: Take I-40E to exit 292 onto AZ-77 N continue to the Junction of 77N & HWY 264 then turn left towards Keams Canyon (approx. 6 miles). Continue on HWY 264 W to Second Mesa (approximately 25 miles)
Start your visit to the Hopi Pueblos at the Hopi Cultural Center Museum on Second Mesa. This combination museum, motel, and restaurant is the tourism headquarters for the area.
Both visitors and local Hopi enjoy coming to this excellent pueblo-style museum/motel/restaurant/gift shop complex. It’s on the west side of Second Mesa just before the road plunges down on the way to Third Mesa.
The museum displays fine exhibits of Hopi culture and crafts along with many historic photos. It’s open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Sat.–Sun., except closed weekends from about late Oct. to late March.
There’s a small gift shop just inside the entrance, and you can often purchase traditional piki bread. (To learn more of Hopi mythology and customs, dig into off-reservation sources such as the Special Collections at Northern Arizona University or the Museum of Northern Arizona libraries, both in Flagstaff.) The motel ($90 s weekdays, $95 Fri.–Sat., $5 each additional person; rates drop to $30 in winter) provides all nonsmoking rooms with Hopi décor. Reservations are highly recommended, as it’s a long drive to the next motel.
A free picnic area and campground lie next door among the juniper trees. There’s no water or hookups, but you can use the restrooms in the Cultural Center.
The restaurant (daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, $7–13) prepares good Hopi, American, Mexican, and pizza dishes. This is your big chance to try paatupsuki (pinto bean and hominy soup), or maybe some noqkwivi (traditional stew of lamb and hominy), or a breakfast of blue pancakes made of Hopi corn. Not to be outdone by Navajo neighbors, the restaurant serves a Hopi taco (with beef) and a Hopi tostada (vegetarian).
Hopi Arts & Crafts (928)734-2463, closed Saturdat–Sunday offers a variety of traditional work and a small exhibit with examples of early Hopi silver jewelry; it’s just a short walk across the picnic/camping area. You may also see artwork for sale in a gallery at the Hopi Cultural Center and displayed by vendors on tables outside.
For a shortcut to Chinle and Canyon de Chelly, turn north off AZ 264 beside the Cultural Center to Pinon Trading Post, 26 miles (mostly rough and only partly paved), then turn east 42 miles on paved roads.
Sipaulovi Visitor Center
Tours: Monday through Friday between 9am and 3pm (winter) and 8am to 4pm (summer).
Tour Admission: $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for children ages 10 to 17.
From the Hopi Cultural Center, it’s just a few miles to the Second Mesa village of Sipaulovi. At the visitor center, you can watch a 20-minute video about the Hopi culture and arrange for a 1-hour walking tour of Sipaulovi.
Ponsi Hall Visitor Center
Phone: (928)737-2670Community Development Office or (928)737-2262 Ponsi Hall
Tours: Daily between 9am and 3pm (8am to 4pm in summer) Note that the last tour leaves one hour before closing. Tours may not run on weekends and holidays, so it’s best to call ahead before making a special trip out.
Admission: $13 for adults, $10 for youths age 14 to 17, and $5 for children 5 to 13.
The most rewarding Hopi village to visit is Walpi on First Mesa. To sign up for a tour, drive to the top of First Mesa (in Polacca, the turnoff, near Milepost 392 on AZ 264, is signed “First Mesa Village.”) and continue through the village to Ponsi Hall Visitor Center where you’ll see signs for the tours. The tours, which last 1 hour, are led by Hopis who will tell you the history of the village and explain a bit about the local culture.
About 1 1/2 miles north of the community of Keams Canyon, in the pretty little canyon for which this historic community is named, you’ll find, carved into the stone walls of the canyon, an inscription left by Colonel “Kit” Carson.
It was Carson who led the war on the Navajo during the summer of 1863 and who, to defeat the tribe, burned their crops, effectively leaving the Navajo with no winter supplies.
The inscription reads simply, “1st Regt. N.M. Vols. Aug 13th 1863 Col. C. Carson Com.” To find the inscription, turn off Ariz. 264 in Keams Canyon and drive north on the main road through the community. You’ll also find some picnic tables along this road.
Kykotsmovi (Kiqötsmovi) The name means Mound of Ruined Houses. Hopi from Old Oraibi (o-RYE-bee) founded this settlement near a spring at the base of Third Mesa. Peach trees add greenery to the town. Kykotsmovi (kee-KEUTS-mo-vee), also known as New Oraibi, has the offices of the Hopi Tribal Council.
The Cultural Preservation Office (P.O. Box 123, Kykotsmovi, AZ 86039, 928/734-3613, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Fri.) provides information for visitors to the Hopi Indian Reservation at its office in the Tribal Headquarters building, one mile south of AZ 264. Kykotsmovi Village Store in town sells groceries and fixes pizza, subs, and snacks.
Quotskuyva Fine Arts & Gifts is on the Leupp Road between Mileposts 46 and 47, 1.2 miles south of AZ 264.
You can stop for a picnic along AZ 264 at Oraibi Wash, 0.8 mile east of the Kykotsmovi turnoff and across the bridge, or the Pumpkin Seed Hill overlook 1.2 miles west of the turnoff on the climb to Old Oraibi; both of these sites lie just north of the highway.
Indian Route 2, leading south from Kykotsmovi to Leupp (pronounced “loop”), is paved and the shortest way to Flagstaff. You can either take the main road 0.5 mile west of the Kykotsmovi turnoff, or drive through the village, then turn right on the Leupp Road.
Old Oraibi (Orayvi) This dusty pueblo perched on the edge of Third Mesa dates from 1150 and is probably the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States.
The 20th century was difficult for this ancient village. In 1900 it ranked as one of the largest Hopi settlements, with a population of more than 800, but dissension caused many to leave.
The first major dispute occurred in 1906 between two chiefs, You-ke-oma and Tawa-quap-tewa. Instead of letting fly with bullets and arrows, the leaders staged a “push-of-war” contest. A line was cut into the mesa and the two groups stood on either side. They pushed against each other as hard as they could until Tawa-quap-tewa’s group crossed the line and won.
You-ke-oma, the loser, left with his faction to establish Hotevilla four miles away. This event was recorded a quarter mile north of Oraibi with the line and inscription: “Well, it have to be done this way now, that when you pass this LINE it will be DONE, Sept. 8, 1906.”
A bear paw cut in the rock is the symbol of Tawa-quap-tewa and his Bear Clan, while a skull represents You-ke-oma and his Skeleton Clan. Other residents split off to join New Oraibi at the foot of the mesa.
A ruin near Old Oraibi on the south end of the mesa is all that remains of a church built in 1901 by the Mennonite minister, H.R. Voth. Most villagers disliked having it so close to their homes and were no doubt relieved when lightning destroyed the church in 1942. It’s closed to the public but you can see the ruin from the village.
Old Oraibi lies two miles west of Kykotsmovi. Avoid driving through the village and stirring up dust; park outside—or next to Hamana So-o’s Arts & Crafts—and walk. You can shop for Hopi arts and crafts here and at galleries nearby on the highway. Villagers may offer items for sale from their homes.
Hotevilla (Hot’vela) Founded in 1906 after the split from Old Oraibi, Hotevilla (HOAT-vih-lah) got off to a shaky start. Federal officials demanded that the group move back to Old Oraibi so their children could attend school there. Twenty-five men agreed to return with their families, despite continued bad feelings.
About 53 others refused to leave Hotevilla and were jailed for 90 days while their children were forcibly removed to a Keams Canyon boarding school. That winter the women and infants fended for themselves, with little food and inadequate shelter.
In the following year the men returned, building better houses and planting crops. Exasperated authorities continued to haul You-ke-oma off to jail for his lack of cooperation and refusal to send village children to school.
In 1912, government officials invited the chief to Washington for a meeting with President Taft, but the meeting didn’t soften You-ke-oma’s stance. Today the village is known for its dances, basketry, and other crafts. The turnoff for Hotevilla is 3.7 miles northwest of Old Oraibi and 46 miles southeast of Tuba City.
Bacavi (Paaqavi) The You-ke-oma loyalists who returned to Old Oraibi under federal pressure continued to clash with the people of Tawa-quap-tewa. At one point, when two of the returning women died in quick succession, cries of witchcraft went up.
Finally, in November 1909, tensions became unbearable. Members of the unwelcome group packed their bags once more and settled at a new site called Bacavi (BAH-kah-vee) Spring. The name means “jointed reed,” after a plant found at the spring. Bacavi lies on the opposite side of the highway from Hotevilla.
Coal Mine Canyon Hoodoos and crenulated cliffs of red, white, and gray rocks present a striking sight from the overlook. You may experience vertigo as you peer into precipitous depths. Take care near the edge as the rock layers are very brittle.
Hopi have long obtained coal from the seam just below the rim. A trail descends into the canyon, but you’ll need a Navajo tribal permit to hike it. This very scenic spot has picnic tables and lies 30 miles northwest of Bacavi and 16 miles southeast of Tuba City on AZ 264. Look for a windmill and the Coal Mine Mesa Rodeo Ground on the north side of the highway (no signs) between Mileposts 337 and 338, and turn in across the cattle guard and follow the dirt road, which may be too rough for cars, 0.5 mile to the rim.
Moenkopi (Munqapi) This Hopi village lies two miles southeast of Tuba City. Chief Tuba (about 1810–87) of Oraibi, 48 miles southeast, founded Moenkopi (“The Place of Running Water”) in the 1870s. Mormons constructed a woolen mill in 1879 with plans to use local labor, but the Hopi disliked working with machinery and the project failed.
Moenkopi has two sections—only the upper village participates in the Hopi Tribal Council; the more conservative lower village does not. Water from springs irrigates fields, an advantage not enjoyed by other Hopi villages.
Dances & Ceremonies
Due to the disrespectful attitude of some past visitors, many ceremonies and dances are now closed to non-Hopis. However, a couple of Hopi villages do allow visitors to attend some of their dances. The best way to find out about attending dances is to contact the Hopi Cultural Preservation office.
The Hopi have developed the most complex religious ceremonies of any of the Southwest tribes. The masked kachina dances for which they are most famous are held from January to July. However, most kachina dances are closed to the non-Hopi public.
Social dances (usually open to the public) are held August through February. If you’re on the reservation during these months, ask if any dances are taking place. Who knows? You might get lucky.
Snake Dances (usually closed to the non-Hopi public) are held August through December.
Kachinas, whether in the form of dolls or masked dancers, are representative of the spirits of everything from plants and animals to ancestors and sacred places. More than 300 kachinas appear on a regular basis in Hopi ceremonies, and another 200 appear occasionally.
The kachina spirits are said to live in the San Francisco Peaks to the southwest and at Spring of the Shadows in the east.
According to legend, the kachinas lived with the Hopi long ago, but the Hopi people made the kachinas angry, causing them to leave. Before departing, though, the kachinas taught the Hopi how to perform their ceremonies.
Today, the kachina ceremonies, performed by men wearing elaborate outfits and masks, (calling them costumes is offensive) serve several purposes. Most important, they bring clouds and rain to water the all-important corn crop, but they also ensure health, happiness, long life, and harmony in the universe.
As part of the kachina ceremonies, dancers often bring carved wooden kachina dolls to village children to introduce them to the various spirits.
The kachina season lasts from the winter solstice until shortly after the summer solstice. The actual dates for dances are usually announced only shortly before the ceremonies are to be held.
Preparations for the dances take place inside kivas that are entered from the roof by means of a ladder; the dances themselves are usually held in a village square or street.
With ludicrous and sometimes lewd mimicry, clowns known as koyemsi, koshares, and tsukus entertain spectators between the dances, bringing a lighthearted counterpoint to the very serious nature of the kachina dances. Non-Hopis attending dances have often become the focus of attention for these clowns.
Despite the importance of the kachina dances, it is the Snake Dance that has captured the attention of many non-Hopis. The Snake Dance involves the handling of both poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes.
The ceremony takes place over 16 days, with the first 4 days dedicated to collecting snakes from the four cardinal directions. Later, footraces are held from the bottom of the mesa to the top. On the last day of the ceremony, the actual Snake Dance is performed.
Men of the Snake Society form pairs of dancers — one to carry the snake in his mouth and the other to distract the snake with an eagle feather. When all the snakes have been danced around the plaza, they are rushed down to their homes at the bottom of the mesa to carry the Hopi prayers for rain to the spirits of the underworld.
More Tour Guides in the Hopi Area
Ray Coin’s Tour Services:
Located behind the Second Mesa Cultural Center
Sacred Travel & Images, LLC
P.O. Box 919
Hotevilla, AZ 86030
Phone:(928) 734-6699 (928) 734-6699
fax: (928) 734-6692
Ray offers tours to the Hopi Mesas and to Dawa Park, a petroglyph site. He also will do customized tours throughout will pick you up at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn if you are staying there.
Marlinda Kooyaquaptewa’s Tours:
Located behind the Second Mesa Cultural Center
$20 per hour
Marlinda offers shopping tours, village tours and Prophecy tours.
En Route to or from the Hopi Mesas
Tuba City Trading Post
Address: Main Street and Moenave Avenue, Tuba City
On the west side of the reservation, in Tuba City, is the Tuba City Trading Post. This octagonal trading post was built in 1906 of local stone and is designed to resemble a Navajo hogan or traditional home (there’s also a real hogan on the grounds). The trading post sells Native American crafts, with an emphasis on books, music, and jewelry.
Address: Main Street and Moenave Avenue, Tuba City
Phone: 1-800/644-8383 or (928)283-4545
Across the parking lot from the trading post, you’ll find Hogan Espresso, one of the few places on the reservation where you can get espresso. It’s open Monday to Friday from 7am to 9pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 7pm.
Explore Navajo Interactive Museum
10 N. Main St., Tuba City
Admission: $9 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $6 for children ages 7 to 12.
Behind the trading post, you’ll find the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum, a small museum in a tentlike structure that was used at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Although small, the museum provides a good introduction to Navajo culture. There is also a good Navajo code talkers exhibit here.
In summer, the museum is open Monday through Saturday 8am to 6pm and Sunday noon to 6pm; call for hours in other months.
Van’s Trading Company
On the western outskirts of Tuba City, on U.S. 160, you’ll find Van’s Trading Company in the corner of a large grocery store.
Van’s has a dead-pawn auction on the 15th of each month at 3pm (any pawned item not reclaimed by the owner by a specified date is considered “dead pawn”). The auction provides opportunities to buy older pieces of Navajo silver and turquoise jewelry.
West of Tuba City and just off U.S. 160, you can see dinosaur footprints preserved in the stone surface of the desert. There are usually a few people waiting at the site to guide visitors to the best footprints. These guides will expect a tip of a few dollars.
The scenery out your car window is some of the strangest in the region — you’ll see lots of red-rock sandstone formations that resemble petrified sand dunes.
Cameron Trading Post
Phone: 1-800-338-7385 or (928)679-2231
The Cameron Trading Post is 16 miles south of the junction of U.S. 160 and U.S. 89, and is well worth a visit. The main trading post is filled with souvenirs but has large selections of rugs and jewelry as well. In the adjacent stone-walled gallery are museum-quality Native American artifacts (with prices to match). The trading post includes a motel, convenience store, and gas station.
Hopi Celebrations Open to the Public:
(8th) Annual Hopi Festival – September 30 -October 1, (2017), held in Flagstaff, AZ. Usually last weekend in September.
Kachinas appear to the Hopi from the winter solstice on December 21 until mid-July. They dance and sing in unison, symbolizing the harmony of good thought and deed, harmony required for rain to fall and for a balanced life. The rest of the year the kachinas remain in their home in the San Francisco Peaks.
A kachina can take three forms: a powerful unseen spirit, a dancer filled with the spirit, or a wooden figure representing the spirit. Kachina dancers are always male, even when the spirit is female. The men may present gifts of kachina figures to women and children during the dances. Each village sponsors its own ceremonies. Most are not open to the public, but a few are.
Wuwuchim and Soyala (November to December)
These months symbolize the time of creation of the world. The villages tend to be quiet, as Hopi spend time in silence, prayer, and meditation.
Wuwuchim, a tribal initiation ceremony, marks the start of the ceremonial calendar year. Young men are initiated into adulthood, joining one of four ceremonial societies. The society a man joins depends on his sponsor. Upon acceptance, the initiate receives instruction in Hopi creation beliefs. He’s presented with a new name, and his childhood name is never used again.
Only the Shungopavi village performs the entire Wuwuchim ceremony, and not every year. Other villages engage in parts of the Wuwuchim.
The Soyala Kachina appears from the west in the winter solstice ceremony, marking the beginning of the kachina season. As the days get longer, the Hopi begin planning the upcoming planting season; fertility is a major concern in the ceremony.
Buffalo Dances (January)
Men, women, and children perform these social dances in the plazas. They deal with fertility, especially the need for winter moisture in the form of snow.
Powamuya, the Bean Dance (February)
Bean sprouts are grown in a kiva as part of a 16-day ceremony. On the final day, kachina dancers form a long parade through the village. Children of about 10 years are initiated into kachina societies during the Powamuya. Ogre kachinas appear on First and Second mesas.
Kiva Dances (March)
A second set of nighttime kiva dances consists of Anktioni or “repeat dances.”
Plaza Dances (April, May, and June)
The kachina dancers perform in all-day ceremonies lasting from sunrise to sunset, with breaks between dances. The group—and the people watching—concentrate in a community prayer calling on the spirits to bring rain for the growing crops.
Niman, the “Home Dance” (July)
At the summer solstice on June 21, the plaza dances end and preparations begin for the Going Home Ceremony. In a 16-day rite, the last of the season, kachina dancers present the first green corn ears, then dance for rain to hasten growth of the remaining crops. Their spiritual work done, the kachinas return to their mountain home.
Snake, Flute, and Butterfly Dances (August)
The Snake and Flute ceremonies, held in alternate years, represent the clan groups who perform them in the interests of a good harvest and prosperity.
The Snake Dance, usually closed to non-Hopi, takes place in even-numbered years at Shungopavi and Hotevilla and in odd-numbered years at Mishongnovi. The snakes, often poisonous rattlers, act as messengers to the spirits.
The Flute Ceremony takes place in odd-numbered years at Shungopavi and Walpi.
The Butterfly Dance, a social dance performed mainly by children, takes place in all villages. It also celebrates the harvest.
Women’s Society Dances (September, October, and Early November)
Held in the plazas, these ceremonies celebrate the harvest with wishes for health and prosperity. Chaos reigns during the Basket Dances; female dancers throw out baskets and other valuables to the audience, who engage in a mad free-for-all to grab the prizes. They mark the end of the ceremonial year.