enjoyed a peaceful way of life until the first outsiders arrived in Hopi
territory in 1540. Under the leadership of Don Pedro de Tovar,
the Spanish were looking for the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. The Spaniards were not received with friendliness at first, but the
opposition of the natives was soon overcome and the party remained
among the Hopi for
several days, learning from them of the existence of the Grand Canyon. When they were unsuccessful in the search for the precious metal, they
returned to Mexico but continued to maintain sporadic contact.
In 1592 the Spanish returned when Catholic
priests established a mission at Awatovi. For the next nine
decades the priests would attempt to suppress the Hopi
religion and convert the tribe to Catholicism.
From the Spanish, the Hopi acquired
horses, burros, sheep and cattle, as well as new fruits and vegetables
that were introduced into their diet. The Spanish and later Europeans also
introduced smallpox which over the centuries periodically reduced the
populations on the mesas from thousands to hundreds in devastating
In 1680 the Hopi joined the
in the Pueblo Revolt which forced the Spanish out of the Southwest.
Although the Spanish were successful in re-conquering the
were never able to firmly reestablish a foothold among the Hopi.
Following on the heels of the Spanish, the
were also under pressure from the Europeans, began moving into Hopi territory
in the late 1600's. Scattered throughout the area they appropriated Hopi rangeland
to graze their livestock, farm fields and water resources, as well as
conducting frequent raids against Hopi villages. The peaceful Hopi
were forced to battle for their survival in a long period of fighting that
would last until 1824 when Spain recognized Mexico and the Hopi lands were
given to the new Mexican government. Though no longer having
to face the Spanish, the Navajo
continued to attack the Hopi until they
were forced onto reservations in 1864.
1848 the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe de
Hidalgo, once more changing the jurisdiction under which the Hopi lands
After the area became
part of the United States, white settlers began to explore the area in
greater numbers, and in 1870, the U.S. government laid claim to the lands
of the Hopi. Once again, the Hopi were forced to fight to save their lands
until finally they were forced onto the reservation in Black Mesa in 1882,
where most of them still live today.