Monument Valley, Navajo Nation
Southwest Indian Country Options
Hopi culture is one of the oldest cultures on this continent. The Bear Clan were the first to reach the place where the blue corn grows and settled at Oraibi, possibly the oldest continually inhabited settlement in the United States. “l have washed away the footprints of your Emergence', a holy one, Sotuknang, reminded the Hopis, 'but the day will come if you preserve the memory and meaning of your Emergence, when those stepping stones will appear again to prove the truth you speak. For many Hopi, those stepping stones are seen in Freemont petroglyphs and found in Anasazi cliff palaces and Sinagua villages, predating AD 500. Scattered across the southwest and Four Corners region; Wupatki, Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, Betatakin and Keet Steel exemplify the 'Old Ones' of the Hopi, Zuni and Rio Grande pueblos.
However, this is a region soaked in New Age lore. And it is easy to find folks steeped in the ‘spiritual sciences’ offering you transformational journeys to assist you in awakening to your true self. Sedona! In this area ceremonies are routinely bought and sold, visions quests arranged and sweat lodges held for big dollars. Tarot cards and psychic readings top the Google searches for Sedona, and homespun websites run by the Hopi themselves languish in bottom positions, forced out by the expensive designer sites of successful ‘spiritual entrepreneurs’.
Contrast such activities, dubbed as ‘authentic Hopi Indian experiences’, and you begin to wonder how the two communities manage to co-exist, even in a state as large as Arizona.
Hopi Butterfly Maidens - Walpi
Hopi Dancer - Moenkopi, Arizona
Hopi is a way of life; a religion, not a band of people. Its survival as one of the most ancient and intact cultures of Native America is said by the Hopi People to be because everything of significance to the Hopi happens in the sacred privacy of the Kiva. Each village and clan has its own Kiva, and each is responsible for a part of the spiritual knowledge that collectively makes Hopi. No single clan, or person can define the breadth of Hopi, and in that way preservation is ensured.
In tourist traps and trading post windows, the carved dolls depicting Kachina spirits are bought and sold as vacation mementos, but nobody can buy what only the Hopi know.
How long do you have?
Here are suggestions for those coming to this special region who would like to take advantage of transportation inclusive guided tours in this area.
Experience Hopi - 1
•Drive through desert lands to the First Mesa where after an orientation on local tribal etiquette you are accompanied on a visit to Walpi, a village which remains just as it has been over the centuries; there is no electricity or running water in the old village of Walpi. This is a chance to witness life as it has always been lived by village residents. •Hopi Art reflects spirituality and the importance of the numerous Katsina spirits is placed into a cultural context with special narratives on Katsina dolls, and explanations of the symbolism in Hopi arts. •Lunch at a local eaterie where you may like to try local traditional foods •Travel to Second Mesa and Sipaulovi village, to where the Sun Forehead Clan migrated from the ancient dwellings of Homolovi from around 900 AD. Today six clans are represented in this village and you will see the central plaza - a communal meeting place and location for ceremonies where families, friends and clan relations return for ceremonial gatherings throughout the year. You will also visit three of the original houses constructed using traditional methods and materials; clan homes which are handed down through matrilineal clan lineage. On Supaulovi, you are at 6000 feet and your view spreads 100 miles in all directions.
Experience Hopi - 2
•Today, visit the dusty windswept pueblo of Old Oraibi which, perched on the edge of Third Mesa, dates back to 1150. Many fascinating stories are told of the history of this village. Although once the largest of the Hopi villages with a population of more than 800, when a major dispute occurred in 1906 between two chiefs, You-ke-oma and Tawa-quap-tewa, instead of settling through violence, the leaders staged a very unique contest, and the loser left with his faction to establish Hotevilla four miles away. Hear the story and learn why a quarter mile north of Oraibi a rock is carved with the inscription: "Well, it have to be done this way now, that when you pass this LINE it will be DONE, Sept. 8, 1906." •Enjoy galleries, home studios and trading posts with exquisite Hopi designs on many artistic items. Try piki bread – an intricately made staple of the Hopi diet. •Later, visit what is probably the finest single rock art site in the southwest with over 12,000 petroglyphs at Taawa Canyon. Here you will stand before ancient petroglyphs that interact with the sunlight to mark the equinox and solstice – thus acting as solar calendars.
Wupatki represents a cultural crossroads, home to numerous groups of people over thousands of years. This is the perfect place for orientation. Did the Navajos and Hopis walk this way? Are you crossing the trails of the Paiutes? Or the Anasazi and Fremont?
Stand on the parapets of this ancient structure and stare for miles as your Hopi guide explains archeological and anthropological thoughts, mixed with the perspectives of his ancient culture of Hopi.
The Grand Canyon is a deeply sacred site to several tribes in this southwest region, including the Hopi, Zuni, Hualapai, and Havasupai. Many Hopis identify the Grand Canyon as the location of the Supapuni, the place of emergence into this, the Fourth World. The Grand Canyon is also associated with the home of Massaw, the Hopi guardian of the earth. One of the traditional rites of Hopi men was to take the Salt Pilgrimage to Grand Canyon from the Hopi Mesas. The spiritual significance of the canyon is part of the fundamental, spiritual tapestry of the Native peoples of the region.
All roads lead to Chaco. Really!
Chaco Canyon was an important Ancient Puebloan cultural center from about 900 through 1130 AD. About 30 ancient masonry buildings up to 4 stories high, containing hundreds of rooms each, attest to Chaco's importance; many millions of stones were hauled, innumerable thousands of tons of earth, and endless logs were cut and hauled from up to 50 miles away in the incredible effort involved in its construction. The scale of the complex upon completion, rivals that of the Colosseum.
The Hopi maintain oral accounts of their historical migration from Chaco and their spiritual relationship to this land, and the structures served as astronomical observatories and calendars. Large well-constructed roadways thought to be built for pilgrims, subjects, or traders, lead from sites 50 miles away to the center of Chaco Canyon. In a very real sense, all roads lead to Chaco.
Chaco Canyon is no day trip from the Hopi Mesas – its remote location means you will need to stay in a hotel within striking distance of this remarkable place –the nearest is about 2 ½ hours away. For this reason we suggest if you want to travel there with a Hopi guide
who can place Hopitu into perspective, you do this as part of a multi-day tour
Experience Navajo - Canyon De Chelly
Wind your path through a mosaic of red rock, sandstone sculptures and mesas toward the Canyon De Chelly. Enveloped by Dine Bikeyah, the sacred Navajo homeland, the Beautyway Chant doesn’t just come to mind, it comes to life and you are on the edge of the Canyon de Chelly, a natural wonder that not only holds the beauty of the Blessing Way, but Spider Rock – the place of origin of Navajo weaving.
If you are traveling the area with our Hopi guide, this is a must-see place within very easy reach of the Hopi Mesas. However, to actually venture into the Canyon De Chelly itself, we will book you with our Navajo guide for a jeep excursion of between 3-5 hours - in accordance with the Navajo by-laws, all guides taking visitors into the Canyon must be from one of the Navajo clans who reside within the Canyon.
Experience Navajo - Monument Valley
Monument Valley is known as the Eighth Wonder of the World. You shouldn't miss it on any trip to the Southwest. Famous for the John Wayne/John Ford vistas, this extraordinary place has a spirit so distinct you can reach out and touch it. Many traditional Navajos still reside in the Valley, some in modern Hogan homes, others in traditional male and female Hogans, and you may take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the red rock wonders that surround you on the 17 mile journey through this sacred place. Do yourself a favor and plan to overnight here. Sunset and sunrise are things no soul should miss.
Note: The dance shown here is an exhibition dance, not a private Hopi ceremonial dance at which filming is not permitted.
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