Visiting Hopi Land
Some of the information below has been adapted from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. Be sure to see more links at the bottom of this page as well.
The Hopi welcome you as visitors to their land. Here are few things to remember so that your visit will be an enjoyable one.
Visitor etiquette – Please remember common courtesy. Looking into windows or wandering into homes is as rude at Hopi as it would be if a stranger helped himself to a tour of your home. When you visit Hopi land you are a guest on private land. Liberties taken by visitors in the past have led to strict enforcement of regulations by the Hopi. It is a privilege to visit Hopi communities, especially during ceremonies, and visitors must respect regulations. With respect, the visitor to Hopi can enjoy a rewarding experience unlike any other in the world.
Recording and photography – No recording of any type while in and around Hopi villages is allowed. These include, but are not limited to: picture-taking, video recording, audio recording, sketching, and note-taking. These are strictly prohibited especially during ceremonies. Visiting Hopi is a wonderful time to use your mind and heart to record what you are privileged to see. Please note, publication of these observations and/or recordings is both exploitative and prohibited without prior consent from the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. Witnessing a Hopi ceremony is a privilege, not a right.
When viewing a ceremony - First of all, please note that not all ceremonies are open to the public. Often posted signs indicate who is welcome. If no signs are posted, seek information from local shops or the village community. At ceremonies open to the public, be aware that there are behavorial guidelines to follow. Well-meaning people, who would never think of going up to the altar during a wedding to ask questions, have nonetheless interrupted, distracted, or simply gotten in the way of Hopi ceremonies. Unless you are invited, the simplest rule is to stay out of the way of kivas (ceremonial rooms) and stay on the periphery of dances or processions. Remember that you are here to watch; there is no more rewarding or thoughtful way to visit ceremonies than to be inconspicuous and quiet.
Wear appropriate clothing. Just as you would when going to a wedding or other ceremony, you should consider what you wear when you go to a Hopi ceremony. Long pants or a skirt are favored over shorts or a short skirt, for instance. The desert Southwest is prone to extreme temperature swings, so if you are spending an evening be sure to bring warm clothes and many layers. Sunblock is a good idea year-round.
Please do not touch – If you aren’t sure, don’t touch it. A visitor to the Southwest might see shrines from many different cultures, including highway-side markers remembering lost loved ones. Some types of shrines are more easily recognized than others, however. Hopi spirituality is very intertwined with daily life, and objects that seem ordinary to you might have deeper significance to the person who placed them. Shrines are placed by sincere individuals and not meant to be disturbed. If you come upon a collection of objects at Hopi and you aren’t sure what to do, respect the wishes of the person who left the offerings and take your attention elsewhere.
What to bring when you visit Hopi land – If you are planning to visit the Hopi Reservation in the summer, please take certain precautions. Bring lots of water, a hat, and sunscreen. The sun can be very intense, and the air is very dry. Wear comfortable walking or hiking boots because vehicles are not generally allowed in all villages. In the winter months, dress warmly especially at night. It can get extremely cold and windy on the mesas. Bring extra layers, you can always leave them in your vehicle if you don’t need them.
Lodging – The Hopi Cultural Center Motel, located on top of Second Mesa, has thirty units, a restaurant, museum, gift shops and a camping area. They are extremely busy in the summer; therefore, it is strongly recommended that reservations be made at least one month in advance. The telephone number for the Hopi Cultural Center Motel is 928-734-2400. International visitors dial 011-928-734-2400. Contact them through their website.
The Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites, located near Tuba City, about 45 miles from Hopi, is the first motel to be built on Hopi tribal land in 50 years. Call 928-283-4500 for reservations or go to their website. Other accommodations can be found in Winslow (61 miles) and Flagstaff (91 miles).
Dining – The Hopi Cultural Center serves American and traditional Hopi food. As well, there is a cafe in the Keams Canyon near First Mesa. Additionally, several families in each village serve traditional food from their home. For snacks, village stores and privately owned stores located in villages are options.
Gas stations – There are several gas stations on the Hopi Reservation. If you are traveling from the South, the first station is at Keams Canyon, located next to McGee’s Store and Cafe. The second is at the Circle M convenience store in Polacca. The third is at the Kykotsmovi Village Store inside the village of Kykotsmovi and the fourth is at the Hotevilla Co-Op Store.
Buying Hopi crafts - Arts and crafts can be purchased throughout the Hopi Reservation along Highway 264. Pottery and other arts and crafts are sold directly from villagers’ homes and in galleries. Signs posted on house windows reading, “Pottery sold here” or “Kachina dolls sold here” are invitations to stop and view merchandise directly in homes or in small adjacent shops. Look for these shops on the mesas and in the villages. The Hopi Cultural Center also has gift shops with quality crafts.
Telephones – Public phones are scarce, but they can be found near convenience stores in Hotevilla and Polacca. There is also a phone located inside the Hopi Cultural Center Restaurant. Cell phone service is not always reliable.
Hopi Cultural Center, Motel & Restaurant (Second Mesa, AZ)
Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites (Moenkopi, AZ)
Suggested Reading (Hopi culture, etc.)