Hopi Indian Characteristics and Customs

Characteristics and customs.—The Hopi are rather small of stature, but muscular and agile. Both sexes have reddish-brown skin, high cheek-bones, straight broad nose, slanting eyes, and large mouths with gentle expression. As a rule the occiput exhibits cradle-board flattening. The proportion of albinos is large. The hair is usually straight and black, but in some individuals it is brownish and in others it is wavy. The hair of the men is commonly “banged” in front or cut in “terraces”; the long hair behind is gathered in a sort of short queue and tied at the neck. The matrons wear their hair in two coils which hang in front. On reaching puberty the girls dress their hair in whorls at the sides of the head, in imitation of the squash blossom, the symbol of fertility. The women tend to corpulency and age rapidly; they are prolific, but the infant mortality is very great. Boys and girls usually have fine features, and the latter mature early, often being married at the age of 15 or 16 years. Bachelors and spinsters are rare. A few men dress as women and perform women’s work.
     In mental traits the Hopi are the equal of any Indian tribe. They possess a highly artistic sense, exhibited by their pottery, basketry, and weaving. They are industrious, imitative, keen in bargaining, have some inventive genius, and are quick of perception. Among themselves they are often merry, greatly appreciating jests and practical jokes. They rarely forget a kindness or an injury, and often act from impulse and in a childlike way. They are tractable, docile, hospitable, and frugal, and have always sought to he peaceable, as their tribal name indicates. They believe in witchcraft, and recognize many omens of good and bad.
     The Hopi are monogamists, and as a rule are faithful in their marital relations. Murder is unknown, theft is rare, and lying is universally condemned. Children are respectful and obedient to their elders and are never flogged except when ceremonially initiated as kachinas. From their earliest years they are taught industry and the necessity of leading upright lives.
     The clothing of the Hopi men consists of a calico shirt and short pantaloons, and breechcloth, moccasins, and hair bands. Bracelets, necklaces of shell, turquoise, or silver, and earrings, are commonly worn.
     The women wear a dark-blue woolen blanket of native weave, tied with an embroidered belt, and a calico manta or shawl over one shoulder; their moccasins, which are worn only occasionally, are made of ox-hide and buckskin, like those of the men, to which are attached leggings of the same material, but now often replaced by sheepskin. The ear-pendants of the women and girls consist of small wooden disks, ornamented with turquoise mosaic on one side. Small children generally run about naked, and old men while working in the fields or taking part in ceremonies divest themselves of all clothing except the breech-cloth.

The books presented are for their historical value only and are not the opinions of the Webmasters of the site.   Handbook of American Indians, 1906

Index of Tribes or Nations


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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