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The Villages

With the exception of Upper and Lower Moenkopi, which are near the Navajo town of Tuba City, and the recently settled Yuh Weh Loo Pah Ki community east of Keams Canyon, the Hopi villages are scattered along roughly 20 miles of Ariz. 264. Although Old Oraibi is the oldest, there are no official tours of this village, and visitors are not likely to feel very welcome here. Consequently, Walpi, one of only two villages with organized tours, is the best place for visitors to learn more about life in the Hopi villages. I mention all of the Hopi villages below to provide a bit of history and perspective on this area, but for the most part, these villages (with the exception of Walpi and Old Oraibi) are not at all picturesque. However, most do have quite a few crafts galleries and stores selling silver jewelry.

First Mesa

At the top of First Mesa is the village of Walpi, parts of which today still look much like the ruins of Ancestral Puebloan villages in such locations as Canyon de Chelly, Navajo National Monument, and Wupatki National Monument. Small stone houses seem to grow directly from the rock of the mesa top, and ladders jut from the roofs of kivas. The view from the village stretches for hundreds of miles, and it is easy to see why the Hopi settled on this spot. Walpi was originally located lower on the slopes of First Mesa, but after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 brought on fear of reprisal from the Spanish, villagers moved to the top of the mesa so that they could better defend themselves in the event of a Spanish attack.

Immediately adjacent to Walpi are the two villages of Sichomovi, which was founded in 1750 as a colony of Walpi, and Hano, which was founded by Tewa peoples who were most likely seeking refuge from the Spanish after the Pueblo Revolt. Neither of these villages has the ancient character of Walpi. At the foot of First Mesa is Polacca, a settlement founded in the late 1800s by Walpi villagers who wanted to be closer to the trading post and school.

Second Mesa

Second Mesa is today the center of tourism in Hopiland and is where you'll find the Hopi Cultural Center. Villages on Second Mesa include Shungopavi, which was moved to its present site after Old Shungopavi was abandoned in 1680 following the Pueblo Revolt (it no longer exists). Old Shungopavi is said to have been the first Hopi village and was founded by the Bear Clan. Shungopavi is notable for its silver jewelry and its coiled plaques (flat baskets).

Mishongnovi, which means "place of the black man," is named for the leader of a clan that came here from the San Francisco Peaks around 1200. The original Mishongnovi village, located at the base of the mesa, was abandoned in the 1690s, and the village was reestablished at the current site atop the mesa. The Snake Dance is held here during odd-numbered years. It is doubtful that these dances will be open to non-Hopis, although you could check with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.

Sipaulovi, which is located on the eastern edge of the mesa, was founded after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Third Mesa

Oraibi, which the Hopi claim is the oldest continuously occupied town in the United States, is located on Third Mesa. The village dates from 1150 and, according to legend, was founded by people from Old Shungopavi. A Spanish mission was established in Oraibi in 1629, and the ruins are still visible north of the village. Today, Oraibi is a mix of old stone houses and modern ones, mostly constructed of cinder blocks. Wander around Oraibi, and you'll likely be approached by village women and children offering to sell you various local crafts and the traditional blue-corn piki bread. You may also be invited into someone's home to see the crafts they have to offer. For this reason, Old Oraibi is the most interesting village in which to shop for local crafts.

For centuries, Oraibi was the largest of the Hopi villages, but in 1906, a schism arose due to Bureau of Indian Affairs policies, and many of the villagers left to form Hotevilla. This is considered the most conservative of the Hopi villages and has had frequent confrontations with the federal government. Kykotsmovi, also known as Lower Oraibi or New Oraibi, was founded in 1890 by villagers from Oraibi who wanted to be closer to the school and trading post. This village is the seat of the Hopi Tribal Government. Bacavi was founded in 1907 by villagers who had helped found Hotevilla but who later decided that they wanted to return to Oraibi. The people of Oraibi would not let them return, and rather than go back to Hotevilla, they founded a new village.

Moenkopi

This village is 40 miles to the west of the Hopi mesas. Founded in 1870 by people from Oraibi, Moenkopi sits in the center of a wide green valley where plentiful water makes farming more reliable. Moenkopi is only a few miles from Tuba City off U.S. 160 and is divided into the villages of Upper Moenkopi and Lower Moenkopi.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.