The Cosmology of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona
The Hopi Tribe is one of the most famous and intensively studied Indigenous groups in the world. In this talk, I clarify some misconceptions about Hopi cosmology and explain how collaborative research between Indigenous and external scholars has transformed the study of Hopi history. Many accounts romanticize Hopi society as timeless, but the reality is that Hopi history is full of dynamic change featuring previous worlds, migrations, gatherings and dispersals of people, a search for the center place, and struggles to fulfill sacred compacts. Significant aspects of “classic” Hopi culture recorded by ethnographers in the early 20th century actually reflect a society in the throes of adjustment to the American socioeconomic system and the legacy of colonialism. Most importantly, from the perspective of the Hopi people themselves, there is no one point in history when they “became Hopi” and then persisted unchanged through the centuries. One is always in the process of becoming Hopi – of striving to live by the standards of hopìiqatsi, the Hopi way of life.
Wesley Bernardini is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Redlands. He has conducted collaborative work with the Hopi Tribe since 1997. He is the author of numerous articles and three books, including Becoming Hopi (2021). He received the 2003 Society for American Archaeology Dissertation Prize and the 2022 Society for American Archaeology Book Award.
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