North-South-East-West: American Indians and the Natural World

Enduring People: Four Centuries of Resistance

helmetThreats to a Way of Life

The Spanish arrived in Hopi territory in the 16th century bringing with them one of the greatest threats to the Hopi way of life.

When Spanish explorers and Catholic priests entered the land of the Hopi around 1540, only five Hopi villages existed. They aggressively attempted, through such methods as burning religious articles and torture, to subvert the Hopi culture. The brutal treatment continued until the people ousted the Spanish in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.

Later, when Arizona became part of the United States in 1863, the effort to Americanize and convert the Hopi was taken over by various non-Catholic denominations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Despite the onslaught, first by Spanish and later by American forces, the Hopi have been remarkably successful at withstanding foreign domination. Even though the Hopi culture has adapted to modern life, the Hopi people have largely adhered to their ancient values and traditions.


Image: Helmet
Spanish, ca. 1890s
In 1540, Spanish soldiers invaded the Hopi territory. Then Spanish Catholic missionaries began their teaching, establishing a mission at the Hopi village of Awatovi.
Bronze; L 34.5 x H 26.0 x W 25.5 cm; 17173, gift of Miss Rose Seibert

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