Southwest Native Americans - Hopi Illustration

Southwest Indian Tribes
& Nations for Kids

Who are the Hopi?

The Hopi were one of the tribes of the Pueblo people. (They still are.) Their religion and the way they governed themselves was the same as all Pueblo people. Their language, however, was unique, which was one reason the Hopi were different from other Pueblos.

Food/Clothing/Homes: Like all Pueblos, the Hopi were excellent farmers. They grew corn, beans, squash, melons, pumpkins, and fruit. They made wool and fabric clothing. Their homes were made of adobe. They stacked their homes, like the Ancient Ones, and used ladders to reach the various levels.

Marriage: In ancient times, a bride and groom announced their engagement by brushing each other's hair. Once people noticed they were engaged, the bride would visit her future husband's family. While visiting, she would prove her skills by grinding corn or baking bread. The groom and his male relatives wove the wedding clothes. The bride always wore a dark blue blanket dress and a cotton shawl. Wedding dresses were not handed down from one generation to the next. Each person received his or her own wedding garments. In the Hopi way, people were buried in their wedding clothes.

Men and Women: Women owned the land and the house. Husbands lived their wives' families, as was the custom in most Pueblo tribes. Women cooked, cleaned, took care of the kids, and wove baskets. The men planted and harvested the food, hunted, performed ceremonies, and did the weaving. Weaving was important as the cloth would be used to make ceremonial costumes - costumes used in religious ceremonies.

Infants: When a child was born, it was the Hopi custom that he or she would receive a gift of a birth blanket and a perfect ear of corn.

Naming Ceremony: Naming a baby was very important to the Hopi. Everyone in the village made suggestions. The parents would not be the ones to finally name the baby. That honor was reserved for the tribal or village leaders, not the parents. But everyone in the family could come with blessings and give suggestions of names for the baby.

Kids: Like all Pueblo, kids had very strong ties to everyone in their family. As they got older, everyone in their family would begin to teach the children the Hopi ways. The girls would learn how to design clay pottery, make food, and weave baskets. The boys would learn how to make tools and weapons and how to hunt. Before kids could become adults and marry, they had to pass a test of courage. Girls would go off with the women, and boys with the men. The actual coming of age ceremony for each individual was secret. But all ceremonies were tests of courage.

Pottery: All the southwest tribes made gorgeous clay pottery. The Hopi were no exception. They made beautiful pots, carved and painted with designs that told a story. Some pots were used for cooking. Other were used for storage. The best pots were used for religious ceremonies.

Weaving: Once, weaving was done only by the men. Hopi weavers made all the white cotton kilts worn by the men. They made all the ceremonial customs. Their designs were bright and cheerful, with patterns of birds and flowers in a great many colors. Only a few knew how to braid the rain sash with its many intricate knots.

Jewelry: The southwestern tribes used turquoise to make jewelry, and still do. They believed turquoise was the stone of happiness, health, and good fortune.

Baskets: The Hopi method of making baskets has not changed for hundreds of years. They still make baskets with the old patterns, in the old way, woven with long grasses, and designed with natural dyes.

Natacka Festival: This festival is somewhat like Halloween, only the trick and treaters are adult men. During the 9-day Hopi purification ceremony, giant Natackas (men in costume) go from house to house, begging. The Natackas hoot and whistle if they are turned down.

Kachina Dolls

Pueblo Religion

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