The Hopi Culture

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Introduction

Hopi is a matrilineal society characterized by clanship that has a population of approximately 18,327 (Haviland, Prins, McBride, & Walrath, 2013). When a man marries in this community, the children become members of his wife’s clan. The 2010 census report showed that they occupy 2,439 square miles of land in the Hopi reservation in Northern Arizona and the southern end of the Black Mesa. The community has 12 villages located in three regions in America namely the First Mesa, the Second Mesa and the third Mesa (Haviland et al., 2013). Since it is organized into clanship, its members are responsible for establishing a person’s responsibility and status in the society. Relationships are inclined to the clan more than to the blood relations. In terms of the latter, there are various restricted interrelations among the clan members (Haviland et al., 2013).

Traditional Subsistence Strategy

For many generations, the Hopi people have practiced subsistence farming. They have adopted a spiritual way of life that rejects material possessions. Traditionally, these people are skilled subsistence or micro-farmers (Wall & Masayesva, 2005). However, modernity has caught up with this society, and they have embraced contemporary cash economy. Most of the people do not have regular paying jobs but, instead, earn a living from the production of high quality art and traditional crafts such as Kachina dolls and other carvings.

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Among the Hopi, the labor is distributed or divided according to gender. The work done by men such as harvesting and farming is seen as a gift to women. Most of the subsistence labor was left to the males. In addition, they were involved in leather and wood works, and weaving textiles. On the other hand, tasks performed by women such as gathering pinon nuts, berries, grasses and gardening are seen as a gift to the men. Females are also involved in making baskets and potery. Resources used by the Hopi include land, houses and animals. Since the community is matrilineal, women manage and control the distribution of household crops and goods. They administer most aspects of the material economic life such as land, while men are mostly in charge of the spiritual and ritual areas of the society.

Traditional Economic System

In the traditional setup of the Hopi people, cultural artifacts are used to measure wealth (Wall & Masayesva, 2005). Some of them include bowls, jewelry and precious stones such as turquoise, vases and plates. In the Hopi society, the fortune is not inherited; it has to be earned. In addition to cultural artifacts being used as a measure of riches, the horses are also regarded as indicators of wealth. A person capable of owning many horses is considered rich. Among the Hopi, barter trade is used as a system of reciprocity. People usually exchange goods for goods.

Personality Training

Among the Hopi, children depend on their parents. However, girls are taught to be independent by their mothers, while boys are trained by their fathers. Girls learn about women’s responsibilities, and boys are instructed on what it takes to be a man. While there seems to be equality among the Hopi, women dominate over men in several areas. Females control much of the resources, whereas males manage the ritual or spiritual activities.

Marriage Customs

Traditional marriage among the Hopi is a contract between two families. Since conventional Hopi are organized into matrilineal clans, the children from a marriage automatically become members of the wife’s clan (Jacka, 1998). Although the society has been affected greatly by the modern American culture, they continue to follow their traditional ceremonial customs. A bride has to grind corn for three days at her future husband’s house as an indication of being a capable wiife. As for the groom and male relatives, they have to weave the bride's wedding clothes. After these ceremonial activities, the bride walks into the house in one of the wedding cloths and carries the other one in a container. A married woman is buried in her wedding outfit so as to enter the spiritual world dressed appropriately (Jacka, 1998).

A man must wear several bead necklaces on the wedding day. Although some elements of equality among the males and females in the Hopi culture can be established, it can be said that males are in charge of sexual life. The exclusion of women from cultural practices such as the Kachina cult and other male dominated ceremonies is an indication of gender inequality. Hopi women are seen to have only one function that is giving life. Unlike many traditional cultures existing in America, the Hopi people are monogamists in nature. They believe in being faithful to one spouse. It is dishonorable cheat on your partner. Therefore, a Hopi man is supposed to marry only one woman. However, they often divorce and remarry (Jacka, 1998).

Family Structure and Residence Patterns

Hopi society has adopted a matrilocal residence. Females have a great deal of domestic authority. They own houses and crops in the fields. However, men can claim the ownership of livestock they raise. Males are allowed to participate in some matrilineal affairs (Kemper, 2008). However, the responsibility for discipline is placed on the mother’s brother rather than the husband or father, and avuncular visits are essential. The interactions in the family among the different households are facilitated by the Hopi residence or the settlement pattern. A traditional residence pattern can be described as a group of people that live in the house-like structures called pueblos. They form a continuous concatenation of rooms that could house up to a thousand people (Kemper, 2008). As it is a matrilineal culture, the “uncle-father” is responsible for and has authority over the children.

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